Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone, widely held to be the first national park in the world, is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is dominant.
Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years. The region was bypassed during the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 19th century. Aside from visits by mountain men during the early-to-mid-19th century, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. The U.S. Army was commissioned to oversee the park just after its establishment.
Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2), comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years.
In 1871, eleven years after his failed first effort, F.V. Hayden was finally able to make another attempt to explore the region. With government sponsorship, Hayden returned to Yellowstone region with a second, larger expedition, the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. He compiled a comprehensive report on Yellowstone, which included large-format photographs by William Henry Jackson, as well as paintings by Thomas Moran.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal relief agency for young men, played a major role between the years 1933–42 in developing Yellowstone facilities. CCC projects included reforestation, campground development of many of the park's trails and campgrounds, trail construction, fire hazard reduction, and fire-fighting work. The CCC built the majority of the early visitor centers, campgrounds and the current system of park roads.
The expansive cultural history of the park has been documented by the 1,000 archeological sites that have been discovered. The park has 1,106 historic structures and features, and of these Obsidian Cliff and five buildings have been designated National Historic Landmarks.
Yellowstone was designated an International Biosphere Reserve on October 26, 1976, and a United Nations World Heritage Site on September 8, 1978. The park was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger from 1995 to 2003 due to the effects of tourism, infection of wildlife, and issues with invasive species. In 2010, Yellowstone National Park was honored with its own quarter under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
Heritage And Research Center
The Heritage and Research Center is located at Gardiner, Montana, near the north entrance to the park. The center is home to the Yellowstone National Park's museum collection, archives, research library, historian, archeology lab, and herbarium.
The Yellowstone National Park Archives maintain collections of historical records of Yellowstone and the National Park Service. The collection includes the administrative records of Yellowstone, as well as resource management records, records from major projects, and donated manuscripts and personal papers.
Wildfire is a natural part of most ecosystems, and plants found in Yellowstone have adapted in a variety of ways. Douglas-fir has a thick bark which protects the inner section of the tree from most fires. Lodgepole Pines —the most common tree species in the park— generally have cones that are only opened by the heat of fire.
Their seeds are held in place by a tough resin, and fire assists in melting the resin, allowing the seeds to disperse. Fire clears out dead and down wood, providing fewer obstacles for lodgepole pines to flourish. Subalpine Fir, Engelmann Spruce, Whitebark Pine and other species tend to grow in colder and moister areas, where fire is less likely to occur.
Yellowstone climate is greatly influenced by altitude, with lower elevations generally found to be warmer year round. The record high temperature was 99 °F (37 °C) in 2002, while the coldest temperature recorded is −66 °F (−54 °C) in 1933. During the summer months of June through early September, daytime highs are normally in the 70 to 80 °F (21 to 27 °C) range, while nighttime lows can go to below freezing (0 °C)—especially at higher altitudes.
Summer afternoons are frequently accompanied by thunderstorms. Spring and fall temperatures range between 30 and 60 °F (-1 and 16 °C) with cold nights in the teens to single digits (−5 to −20 °C). Winter in Yellowstone is very cold with high temperatures usually between zero to 20 °F (−20 to −5 °C) and nighttime temperatures below zero °F (−20 °C) for most of the winter.
Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Since the mid-1960s, at least 2 million tourists have visited the park almost every year. In 2010, a record number of visitors came to the park in July: 975,000. July is the busiest month for Yellowstone National Park. At peak summer levels, 3,700 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessionaires. Concessionaires manage nine hotels and lodges, with a total of 2,238 hotel rooms and cabins available.