10 Interesting Facts About Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic panoramic in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a US park that covers three states namely Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. The history of the park dates back to 11,000 years ago when it was occupied by natives. The first explorers arrived in the area much later in the 1860s. Yellowstone National Park is considered among the oldest parks not only in the US but also in the world. Having been created in the 1870s, the park is over 145 years old.

1. Among the Oldest National Park in the World

Yellowstone was the first national park to exist in the United States which makes it the oldest park in the country. According to US records, the park was officially instituted by the Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses Grant in 1872. Due to its rich heritage, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other parks that have existed for more than 100 years include Bogd Khan Uul National Park in Mongolia, Royal National Park in Australia, Banff National Park in Canada, and Tongariro National Park in New Zealand.

2. Mainly located in Wyoming

Bison Paradise in Yellowstone National Park, USA
Bison Paradise in Yellowstone National Park, USA

The total land area covered by Yellowstone National Park is 3,468.4 square miles. 96% of this area is found within Wyoming while the other parts are situated in Montana (3%) and Idaho (1%). Besides, the park traverses through five counties namely Park and Teton in Wyoming, Gallatin & Park in Montana, and Fremont in Idaho. The park is the most extensive and popular park in continental America.

3. Volcanic Hotspot

Volcanic hotspots are places on earth which contain underlying mantle plumes that result in increased volcanic activity. Yellowstone Park contains volcanic hotspots which have resulted in it being among the few places on earth that experience high numbers of earthquakes. In fact, it is believed that the park has 1000-3000 earthquakes every year.

4. Hhydrothermal Features and Archaeological Sites

Yellowstone National Park possesses close to 1800 archaeological sites, 290 waterfalls, and 300-500 active geysers including Old Faithful, Castle Geyser, Lion Geyser, and Beehive Geyser. Among the many geysers found at the park is Steamboat Geyser which is the largest active geyser in the whole world. In addition, the Yellowstone National Park has plenty of hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Actually, the hydrothermal features in the park reach up to 10,000 in number.

5. Diverse Species of Flora and Fauna

Famously referred to as “megafauna”, Yellowstone national park is home to 67 species of mammals, five species of amphibians, six species of reptiles, 311 species of birds, and seven aquatic nuisance. The Yellowstone National Park also acts as a home for two endangered species namely the Canada lynx and the Grizzly bears. In addition, wolverines found in the park are also feared to be nearing the IUCN Red List threatened species status. Besides the fauna, the plants there are also various species of trees and plants at the Yellowstone Park. For instance, 1700 species of trees grow in the forest. Out of these, there are 170 species that are non-native to America. 80% of the species of conifers that grow at the park is the Lodgepole Pine that covers a large portion of the park.

6. Tourist Destination

Canyon in Yellowstone National Park.
Canyon in Yellowstone National Park.

The park attracts slightly over four million visitors every year. Such a high number of tourists visit the park to enjoy the view of the wildlife, waterfalls, geysers, hot springs, and to enjoy activities such as hiking, hunting, camping, snowmobiling, and fishing. Therefore, Yellowstone Park is a great source of revenue for the tourism sector.

7. Two Major Rivers

These two rivers are the Yellowstone River and Snake River. River Yellowstone empties into the Atlantic Ocean whereas the Snake River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Yellowstone River is 692 miles long whereas Snake River is 1,078 miles in length.

8. Largest High Elevation Lake 

This lake which is famous for being the largest high elevation lake in the whole of North America is called the Yellowstone Lake. It is the largest freshwater lake in North America that is located above 7,000 feet. Yellowstone Lake has a surface area of 136 square miles.

9. Only Federal Court District That Covers Three States

Yellowstone Park’s land area, as mentioned above, goes through three US states. Interestingly, the park is within the jurisdiction of the US District Court that serves the District of Wyoming. Thus, this is the only federal court that includes parts of three states instead of the normal one or two states as in the other federal courts.

10. Frequent Wildfires 

In normal instances, forest fires are associated with the destruction of the natural habitat. However, the fires experienced at Yellowstone Park are a natural part of the ecosystem since the plants need the fires for their survival. As a result, these plants have adapted to wildfires. For instance, a plant known as the Douglas fir has a thick bark to protect the inner stem from catching fire. On the other hand, seeds of the Lodgepole pines are normally enclosed within a tough resin. The wildfires assist in opening up the resin leading to the dispersion of the seeds for reproduction purposes. Records indicate that 35 fires are started annually by lightning whereas people start 6-10 fires which are mostly believed to be accidents.


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