Happy Birthday, Yellowstone National Park!

Happy 147th Birthday to the first National Park!

On March 1st, Yellowstone National Park turned 147 years old! While the land has been around for millions of years, the region now known as Yellowstone National Park was formally protected by the United States Government in 1872. Signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, the Act of Dedication helped create the world’s first National Park and helped inspire a love and protection of Public Lands around the nation. 

Yellowstone is considered by most to be the cornerstone of our National Park System. As the first National Park, the region’s wildlife and geology has insipid and intrigued countless generations to explore the area. Offering a bounty of natural and historic wonders Yellowstone attracts more than four million visitors each year.

Containing 3,472 square miles of rugged landscape, Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined and is way more diverse. Yellowstone is home to 67 species of mammals, 285 species of birds, 16 species of fish, 6 species of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians, and more than 7 aquatic nuisance species. While most of these animals may be seen, the most common sightings of wildlife are elk, bison, deer, antelope, coyotes, big horn sheep, black and grizzly bear, fox, moose and wolves.

A bear eating an elk in Yellowstone National Park
A bison, silhouetted at sunset in Yellowstone National Park’s Hayden Valley
A lone bull elk roaming just west of Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park
A fox trying to catch a meal, diving in after a small rodent. Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park
A coyote and some moose near Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park
Wandering Moose in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley
A bighorn sheep in a snowstorm at Yellowstone National Park.

Resting 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana, and 1% in Idaho, Yellowstone is more than just a wildlife safari destination. There are more than 300 active geysers in the park, over 290 waterfalls and over 6,000 feet of evolution gain and loss in the two million acre park. The highest point in the park is 11,358′ at Eagle Peak and the lowest point in the park is 5,282′ at Reese Creek. While many will view the mountains from the 466 miles of road in the park, most find themselves exploring and watching the geysers and hot springs in the caldera region. Yellowstone is a super volcano, and while some constantly try to induce fear by talking about the fact that Yellowstone has 1000 to 3000 earthquakes annually, we celebrate it, as the earthquakes and volcanic history have created the hot springs, mud pots and geysers we love. The most famous of the geysers is Old Faithful, which erupts every 92 minutes on average.

Sunset at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park
A scene along Firehole Drive in Yellowstone National Park

Those who visit Yellowstone will find endless hiking and walking opportunities. In the park, there are 15 miles of boardwalk to explore, most of which lead through incredible geyser basins, passing hot springs and other amazing natural wonders. For those hoping for something more remote and wild, there are 92 trailheads that access approximately 1000 miles of trails, leading into wild and incredible scenic wonderlands.

Created thanks to the efforts of individuals like Ferdinand Hayden, who explored and documented the region in 1871, Yellowstone National Park was protected for all to enjoy. Today, Yellowstone remains one of the most visited and most iconic National Parks in the world. For more history of Yellowstone, we encourage you to read the Yellowstone National Park- Historical and Descriptive by Hiram Martin Chittenden, fully available online. First published in 1895, this 397 page book gives a great account of the hostly and regions of the park, complete with drawing from the late 1800s. This is a free book online and is one of my favorites.

To visit Yellowstone, consider picking up my guidebook, Road Trip: Seattle to Yellowstone. From highlighting ridiculously awesome spots along the drive to detailed information about everything Yellowstone, the guidebook is positively the prettiest resource you will use to plan your Yellowstone adventure. Highlights from inside the park, summaries of the best trails, geysers, campgrounds and more help make Road Trip: Seattle to Yellowstone the perfect road trip accessory. Get inspired to visit Yellowstone today.


After having been to Yellowstone over 30 times in 20 years,  I have put on the miles, stopped at nearly every gas station, rest stop and scenic area from Seattle, Washington to Gardiner, Montana. I have stayed in the campgrounds, eaten at the restaurants and experienced the lodges. I know Yellowstone, I know the drive and I want to share it with you. The information I give has no hidden agenda. I want to give you the best trip to Yellowstone from Seattle as possible and this guidebook can do that.