Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is an incredible place to explore. Its 3472 square miles stretch across parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. It spans an area larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It is filled with natural wonders, including volcanic-formed mountains, canyons, waterfalls, and geothermal features.
There are over 10,000 thermal features in Yellowstone National Park, including approximately 500 geysers.
The area is surrounded by mountain ranges, and has over 250 waterfalls.
Established trails and boardwalks make many areas easily accessible.
The park is also a great place to view and photograph wildlife, often from close-range.
History of Yellowstone National Park
Thanks to a few notable early west explorers, the park’s beauty and wildlife has been preserved for the enjoyment of people all over the world.
Many early accounts of the land and its wonders were dismissed as tall tales, but the Washburn Expedition of 1870 and the Hayden Expedition of 1871, brought reputable accounts of the wonders to the attention of the public.
In 1872, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill that allowed for the preservation of the 2.2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park.
Geological History of Yellowstone
This area is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, one of the largest super volcanoes in the country.
The area was formed primarily from 3 major eruptions during the past 2.1 million years. These eruptions left a high central volcanic plateau in the central area of the park. Although the park is surrounded by large mountains on all sides, the elevation of the central volcanic plateau ranges from 7500 – 8500 feet, and thus makes the mountains appear much smaller when viewed from the central caldera portion of the park.
This caldera is not a typical mountain-shaped volcano, but instead, a huge magma-filled depression in the earth. This 28 x 47 mile depression has been filled in over the years, so it no longer appears as a depression. However, the magma chamber remains active, and the ground level in the caldera section of the park rises and falls to some degree each year as a result of the magma activity.
Earthquakes in Yellowstone
Seismic activity in the park is ongoing. The region is located along several active fault lines, and experiences approximately 1000-3000 earthquakes per year, with the majority of such small magnitude that they are not noticed by people.
A significant earthquake occurred in 1959, near Hebgen Lake, west of the park. The 7.5 magnitude quake triggered a landslide that killed 28 people and blocked off a section of the Madison River to form what is now called Quake Lake.
Vacation in Yellowstone
If you’re planning a vacation in Yellowstone National Park, take some time to plan what you’d like to see.
The park is a huge area, and although it can be seen in brief by automobile in a day, you are likely to feel rushed, and miss out on some spectacular adventures.
Be sure to make your Yellowstone Park Lodging accommodations early!
Lodging and campgrounds in and around the park fill up early!
Yellowstone National Park
Montana Vacation Hot Spots
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