Top 10 Interesting Yellowstone National Park History Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About

qFacts about Yellowstone National Park! We provide you 10 interesting facts about one of America’s most beautiful national parks in this article.

Your one-stop resource for learning everything you need to know about America’s national parks is More Than Just Parks. We offer professional advice, stunning images, practical advice, spectacular movies, and much more.

Since I stopped teaching in 2018, I’ve traveled to so many of these incredible locations. Did I mention that I was a history teacher? The history of some of these natural beauties is something I have spent my entire life teaching. Then I got to witness them personally.

I’m now going to share with you some of the amazing tales about these stunning locations. There is nothing better than that!

With its national park information, More Than Just Parks delves a little farther. We’ve done our research so you’ll receive more than you anticipated.

Let’s get started without saying more.

Some Basic Facts About Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone basic facts

Only one of the national parks in Wyoming can claim the distinction of being the country’s first national park.

Yellowstone National Park welcomed 3.8 million visitors in 2020.

More than two million acres of a high plateau encircled by mountains may be found in this park, which has been set aside for long-term preservation as a natural preserve.

Now Here Are Some Basic Facts

  • Location: Idaho, Montana & Wyoming
  • Acreage:  Yellowstone encompasses 3,472 square miles (2,221,766 acres) which makes it larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
  • Visitation: The park hosted 4,860,537 recreation visits in 2021, up 28% from 2020 (3,806,306 visits), making it the busiest year on record.
  • Highest Elevation: 11,372 feet.
  • Lowest Elevation: The lowest point in Yellowstone is Reese Creek at 5,282 feet.
  • Climate: In Yellowstone National Park, the summers are short, comfortable, dry, and mostly clear and the winters are freezing, snowy, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 4°F to 76°F and is rarely below -15°F or above 84°F.
  • When Did It Become A National Park? Yellowstone became a national park on March 1, 1872. When President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law, it protected more than 2 million acres of mountain wilderness, amazing geysers and vibrant landscapes for future generations to enjoy.

1. Yellowstone Contains Some Of The Oldest Rocks

odlest rocks yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in the state of Wyoming, is a popular tourist destination known for its unique geothermal features, including hot springs, mudpots, and geysers such as the famous Old Faithful. However, the park is also home to some of the oldest rocks in the world, with some dating back as far as 2.7 billion years.

The rocks in Yellowstone National Park tell the story of a region that has undergone tremendous changes over millions of years, from ancient mountain-building events to violent volcanic eruptions. The park sits on top of an active supervolcano, and the geologic forces that created the park continue to shape the landscape to this day.

Visitors to Yellowstone can see evidence of the region’s volcanic past in the park’s many geothermal features, as well as in the lava flows and volcanic ash deposits that cover large areas of the park. The oldest rocks in the park are found in the northern portion of the park and include granites, gneisses, and schists that formed during the Archean Eon, a time when the Earth was still relatively young and life had not yet appeared.

Yellowstone’s geology is not only fascinating from a scientific standpoint, but it also provides a stunning backdrop for the park’s diverse flora and fauna. Whether you’re exploring the park’s geothermal features, hiking through its forests, or admiring its mountain vistas, the ancient rocks that underlie the landscape are a testament to the enduring power of nature.

2. Park Is One Of The World’s Largest Active Volcanic Systems

eruption yellowstone

Yellowstone’s volcanic activity can be traced back millions of years. The park’s oldest rocks, found in the Absaroka Range, are estimated to be 2.7 billion years old. These rocks are some of the oldest on the planet and are thought to have been formed during the Archean Eon, a period in Earth’s history when the planet was still forming.

The park’s volcanic activity has also created numerous geothermal features, including hot springs, geysers, and mud pots. The most famous of these is Old Faithful, a geyser that erupts with remarkable regularity, spewing hot water and steam into the air. Other notable geothermal features include the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States, and the colorful Morning Glory Pool.

Despite the potential hazards posed by Yellowstone’s volcanic activity, the park is carefully monitored by scientists and is considered safe for visitors. The park’s geothermal features are a major attraction, drawing millions of visitors each year. However, visitors are urged to follow safety guidelines and stay on designated trails to avoid injury and protect the park’s fragile ecosystem.

3. More Than 1,850 Archaeological Sites Have Been Documented

archeology yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is not only a geological wonderland but also a cultural and historical treasure trove. With over 1,850 archaeological sites documented, the park showcases evidence of human habitation that spans over 11,000 years. The artifacts and structures found within the park offer insights into the lives of the various indigenous communities that once called Yellowstone home, as well as the early explorers and settlers who arrived in the 1800s.

Among the many archaeological sites within Yellowstone National Park are ancient campsites, rock shelters, and burial sites. These sites offer a glimpse into the daily lives and customs of the indigenous people who lived in the area thousands of years ago. Some of the artifacts found at these sites include tools made of stone, bone, and antler, as well as pottery and projectile points.

The park also has many historic structures that reflect the early history of Yellowstone, such as the Old Faithful Inn, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. These structures were built in the early 1900s and are excellent examples of the rustic style of architecture that was popular at the time.

4. 27 Modern-Day Native American Tribes Trace Their Ancestry

native tribes

Yellowstone National Park has been inhabited by Native Americans for over 11,000 years, and it continues to be a significant cultural site for many tribes today. In fact, 27 modern-day Native American tribes can trace their ancestry to the park.

The park is home to numerous archaeological sites that document the long history of human habitation, including evidence of prehistoric hunting, fishing, and gathering activities.

Additionally, the park contains sacred sites, traditional use areas, and cultural landscapes that are still used by Native Americans for ceremonies, prayer, and other activities. The National Park Service works closely with these tribes to preserve and protect their cultural heritage in Yellowstone.

List Of Associated Tribes

According to the National Park Service, the following tribes are associated with Yellowstone:

  • Assiniboine and Sioux
  • Blackfeet
  • Cheyenne River Sioux
  • Coeur d’Alene
  • Comanche
  • Colville Reservation
  • Crow
  • Crow Creek Sioux
  • Eastern Shoshone
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux
  • Gros Ventre and Assiniboine
  • Kiowa
  • Little Shell Chippewa
  • Lower Brule Sioux
  • Nez Perce
  • Northern Arapaho
  • Northern Cheyenne
  • Oglala Sioux
  • Rosebud Sioux
  • Salish and Kootenai
  • Shoshone–Bannock
  • Sisseton Wahpeton
  • Spirit Lake
  • Standing Rock Sioux
  • Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa
  • Umatilla Reservation
  • Yankton Sioux (Source: NPS)

5.  First White Man To Visit  Was A Member Of The Lewis & Clark Expedition

lewis clark expedition

Modern history began with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. John Colter, a member of the expedition, is credited with being the first white man to visit the park in 1807. He later described the geothermal features, wildlife, and scenery to others, but his stories were met with disbelief.

It wasn’t until several decades later, after explorers and scientists had confirmed the existence of the park, that it was officially designated as the world’s first national park in 1872.

Today, Yellowstone remains one of the most popular and unique natural wonders in the world, drawing visitors from all over to witness its beauty and diversity.

6. America’s First National Park Could Have Been The Last

national park yellowstone

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant approved a congressional bill that established Yellowstone National Park.

Yet another fascinating Yellowstone National Park fact is that ten years later, America’s first national park was in risk of being its last.

The Yellowstone Park Improvement Corporation was granted the authority to “let” the park to private companies through a contract that was signed between the Department of the Interior and the firm.

A Private Preserve?

These groups were free to act however they pleased. This includes the park’s animals being killed in large numbers.

Imagine a private preserve where visitors were free to treat one of our country’s greatest assets like their own private property and do whatever they pleased, no matter the cost.

One of America’s most beautiful natural settings was in danger of being destroyed due to the reckless devastation of unruly visitors.

Yellowstone National Park Protection Act

Grinnell played a key role in securing the enactment of the Yellowstone National Park Preservation Act in 1894 by emphasizing the impending threat to Yellowstone posed by unchecked business interests and the poaching that they fostered.

The fauna in Yellowstone National Park was safeguarded by this law. It provided a template for upcoming national parks.

Crimes committed in the park were punished by the act.

Because of these initiatives, America’s first national park was not its final one.

U.S. Army Soldiers Were The Earliest Park Protectors

The first guardians of our national parks were not the familiar park rangers we now expect to meet when we visit these unique locations. In the nineteenth century, neither the National Park Service nor its rangers existed.

Yellowstone was previously protected by the United States Army. We might not have any national parks today if not for these soldiers.

The U.S. Army also guarded Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant (now Kings Canyon) National Parks from 1891 to 1914.

7. America’s First National Park Ranger Served At Yellowstone

The story of the man who served as America’s first national park ranger is one of my favorite Yellowstone National Park Facts (and tales).

During the Civil War, Harry S. Yount fought for the Union. After that, he worked as a guide, bullwhacker (the driver of an ox wagon or other large freight wagon), and in a variety of other occupations throughout the American West.

Despite the fact that hunting was permitted, too much wildlife was being killed. Yellowstone National Park recruited “Rocky Mountain Harry” to guard endangered species from commercial hunters at the time. He left his position after fourteen months, claiming that the park was simply too big for one man to police.

Despite having the title “gamekeeper” in his official job description, later National Park Service (NPS) historians would give Yount the distinction of being the country’s first “national park ranger.”

8.  Features The Largest Concentration Of Wildlife In The Continental U.S.

With approximately 300 species of birds, 16 fish species, five amphibian species, six reptile species, and 67 mammal species, Yellowstone is one of the most important wildlife reserves in the world.

In the lower 48 states, the park has the highest density of mammals. Bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, pronghorn, and white-tailed deer are among its famous wildlife.

Black bears, Canada lynx, coyotes, grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolverines, and wolves are among the other animals that can be seen in the park.

About 300 Migratory Bird Species

There are about 300 different types of birds, including raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, if you enjoy bird watching.

Since many of these birds migrate, the variety you see will change depending on the season you visit.

Keep in mind that you should stay a safe distance from any wildlife. Sadly, according to the National Park Service, people are hurt every year because they don’t keep safe distances.

9. Yellowstone Is The Site Of America’s Greatest Concentration Of Geysers & Hot Springs

Yellowstone National Park is home to a vast array of geothermal features, including geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots. It is often referred to as the “Land of Fire and Ice” due to the juxtaposition of the park’s hot thermal features and cold mountain landscapes.

Yellowstone contains over 10,000 geothermal features, making it the largest concentration of such features in the world. It is home to more than 500 active geysers, which is more than half of all the active geysers on Earth. The most famous of these is Old Faithful, which erupts every 45 to 90 minutes and can shoot water up to 185 feet in the air.

Hot springs are another common geothermal feature found throughout the park. The most famous of these is the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the third-largest hot spring in the world and boasts vibrant colors ranging from deep blue to red and orange. Other notable hot springs in the park include the Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

In addition to geysers and hot springs, Yellowstone is also home to fumaroles, which are vents that emit steam and gas, and mudpots, which are pools of bubbling mud. These features are created by the park’s location on top of a supervolcano, which produces high heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust.

10. There Are Almost Three Hundred Waterfalls Inside The Park

Many waterfalls. Such a brief period. It would be useful to know which falls you should visit as you won’t be able to view them all.

One of Yellowstone’s most beautiful and easily accessible waterfalls is Firehole Falls. Take the Firehole Canyon Scenic Road to get there; it’s definitely worth the trek because you’ll be in the middle of some absolutely stunning landscape.

Another one that is undoubtedly worth seeing is Gibbon Falls. It’s an easy drive from the park’s entrance at West Yellowstone.

You’ll be impressed with the beautiful pine tress and rugged cliffs as you make your way to this wonderful spot.

You can view another breathtaking fall if you travel just south of Old Faithful. Kepler Cascades, where the Firehole River constricts and flows into a sparkling pool, offers a spectacular natural setting against which to admire this 150-foot marvel.


Is Yellowstone National Park open year-round?

No, Yellowstone National Park is not open year-round. The park is typically open from late April to early November, although the exact dates may vary depending on weather conditions. Some roads and facilities within the park may close earlier in the fall due to snow and other factors.

What is the best time to visit Y?

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park depends on your interests and what you want to see. In general, the park is most crowded during the summer months (June-August), when the weather is warmer and more activities are available. However, the fall (September-November) can be a great time to visit for those looking to see the changing colors of the foliage and avoid the crowds. Winter (December-March) offers unique opportunities for activities like skiing and snowshoeing, while the spring (April-May) is a great time to see wildlife and waterfalls.

Is there an entrance fee to Yellowstone National Park?

Yes, there is an entrance fee to Yellowstone National Park. The current fee for a private, non-commercial vehicle is $35 for a 7-day pass, while individual entry fees are $20 per person for a 7-day pass. Annual and lifetime passes are also available.

Can I camp?

Yes, camping is allowed in Yellowstone National Park. There are 12 campgrounds within the park, although availability may vary depending on the season. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.

Are pets allowed in Yellowstone National Park?

Pets are allowed in some areas of Yellowstone National Park, but there are restrictions. Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times and are not allowed on boardwalks, trails, or in thermal areas. Pets are only allowed in developed areas like campgrounds, parking lots, and picnic areas.

Is it safe to visit Yellowstone National Park?

Yes, it is generally safe to visit Yellowstone National Park. However, visitors should be aware of potential hazards like wildlife encounters, unstable ground in thermal areas, and hazardous weather conditions. Visitors should follow park guidelines and safety recommendations to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Final Words

In conclusion, Yellowstone National Park is an extraordinary destination with a rich history and remarkable natural features.

From the oldest rocks in the world to its active volcanic system, abundant wildlife, and unique geothermal features, there is no shortage of interesting facts about this iconic park.

Visitors can immerse themselves in its natural beauty, explore its diverse landscapes, and learn about its rich cultural heritage.

Yellowstone National Park is truly a national treasure that continues to inspire and amaze visitors from around the world.