Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone is the first and oldest national park in the world, covering nearly 3,500 square miles of northwestern Wyoming as well as parts of Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone's South Entrance is approximately 90 miles north of the town of Jackson.
This important, self-sufficient ecosystem is home to a huge variety of free-ranging wild animals including bison, elk, wolves, moose and bears (both black and grizzly) . Yellowstone sits on top of an ancient super volcano, which scientists believe last erupted about 640,000 years ago, covering most of North America in more than 600 cubic miles of volcanic material and ash! A series eruptions over the past 2 million years have created a massive caldera, or volcanic basin, measuring 34 by 44 miles across and nearly three-quarters of a mile deep.
Tall, rugged mountains including the Gallatin, Absorka, Washburn and Beartooth Ranges rim the park's volcanic plateau. Yellowstone sits on the Continental Divide, with water from its numerous lakes and springs draining towards opposite sides of the United States. As a result, the Snake River and Yellowstone River both have origins within the park; the Snake flows westward towards the Pacific Ocean, and the Yellowstone flows eastward towards the Atlantic. The various rivers in the park have carved through the landscape with spectacular results. Most notable is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is 900 feet deep and a half-mile wide in certain spots. Its cascading waterfalls and brightly colored red and yellow walls are a result of geothermal and chemical reactions to the iron in the rock.
With easy access to hundreds of miles of roads and even more (seemingly endless!) backcountry trails, Yellowstone is a powerful, beautiful, priceless national resource that everyone should see. It's one of the last places in the world that's truly alive. But words and descriptions only go so far - ultimately, Yellowstone begs to be experienced, explored and discovered...
- The National Park Service's Official Yellowstone Site
- National Geographic - Pictures and Information for Kids