President Teddy Roosevelt designated Yellowstone in Wyoming as the first National Park in the United States in 1872. Today, Yellowstone National Park straddles the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. A trip here is an escape from the urban jungle life for many of its visitors, as the park offers 2.2 million acres of peace and quiet in an unspoiled wilderness setting. The location is certainly remotely positioned in the middle of nowhere, but it makes perfect sense for its resident wildlife and natural attractions. Most tourists find Yellowstone agreeable in the summertime and fall, when the weather is just right for exploring the park. However, wintertime also sees many tourists who come to visit the area for its winter sports attractions.
The park is a popular destination for tourists because of its beauty and splendor. The main attractions are its natural wonders and outdoor activities. Its many nature trails will take its visitors between the special places that celebrate nature's unspoiled beauty in the American West. The average tourist can get to the park from Cody on Highway 14/16 West, or from Jackson on Highway 89/287 North in Wyoming. Another way into it is via Highway 89 South from Gardiner or Livingstone, Montana, or from West Yellowstone, Montana or Idaho by way of Highway 20 East. A tourist can also hire a car to drive them from Cody. There is also a departure point to the park from inside the Grand Teton National Park, just a few miles to the south. There's no need to take natural souvenirs, because the park offers shoppers many items to choose from in its gift shops, from commemorative figurines and T-shirts, to traditional native American housewares and foodstuff preserves.
Yellowstone is a special place to commune with nature. Everyone is welcome at the park, and it's open year round. Summer vacationers can enjoy camping, kayaking, boating, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding and biking. However, guidelines and specific rules apply to each of these activities to protect the park and visitors alike. In Winter, the park offers spectacular scenery, and visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Private and group instruction are also given at the park, and snowmobiles and snow coaches are also available for recreational use. The park is part of the larger US National Park system, which is a showcase of the continent's natural wonders. These areas are not only set aside for the present generation, but also for future generations of humans, flora, and fauna alike to enjoy and benefit from through preservation efforts.
Inside the park, the explorer will find trails, lakes, waterfalls, and spouting geysers. Encounters with the park's wildlife, such as eagles, swans, elk, bears, antelope, wolves and buffalo, are also common occurrences all throughout the park. Furthermore, the plant life in the park is as varied as is that of the fauna. There are hundreds of wildflowers, cottonwoods, quaking aspens, seven species of conifers, and shrubs to be admired. However, the most rare species of plants are to be found in and around the geothermal areas of the park. There's been an invasion of non-native plants into the park's ecosystem as well.
There are safety guidelines and rules for the protection of the park's visitors as well as for its wildlife. The park visitor should be aware of some dangers that come with being inside any national park or wilderness area. These include falling dead trees, scalding water from geothermal vents, feeding wildlife which can attract bears, and deadly encounters with aggressive bison. On the other hand, visitors often threaten the park's ecosystem themselves by defacing and removing natural objects for souvenirs. Throwing objects into the blowholes of geysers damages them, and littering mars the beauty of the park. Tourism obviously affects Yellowstone in more ways than one, but park management has always strived to keep such negative impacts to a minimum.