Yellowstone National Park is one of the most iconic and beloved natural areas in the world.
Spanning over 2.2 million acres, the park boasts an astonishing variety of geothermal features, wildlife, and landscapes, including Old Faithful, the Yellowstone River Canyon, and Lamar Valley.
Established on March 1, 1872, by President Ulysses S. Grant, Yellowstone was a landmark achievement in the history of conservation and public lands.
A Fresh Perspective
The idea of setting aside a large area of land for public enjoyment originated in the mid-19th century, when several visionary leaders, including artist George Catlin and writer Henry David Thoreau, argued for the preservation of natural beauty and wilderness.
However, it wasn’t until the 1870s that the concept won support, thanks to the efforts of several key figures like geologist Ferdinand Hayden, railroad executive Nathaniel Langford, and journalist Thomas Moran.
Hayden’s surveys of the Yellowstone region in 1871 and 1872, which documented the unique geology, flora, and fauna of the area, convinced Congress to pass the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act in 1872, which designated Yellowstone as a public park and placed it under federal management.
This was a radical departure from the prevailing attitude of the time, which saw natural resources as commodities to be exploited for profit.
Setting the Precedent
Since then, Yellowstone has become a model for conservation and sustainable tourism. Its diverse ecosystem, which includes grizzly bears, wolves, elk, bison, and hundreds of bird species, has been protected and managed through scientific research, education, and public engagement.
Yellowstone’s hot springs, mud pots, and geysers have inspired awe and curiosity, but also caution and respect, as visitors learn about the fragile balance of the geothermal features and the risks of human impact.
Today, Yellowstone continues to be a testament to the power of preservation and the value of public lands. As we celebrate its founding, we renew our commitment to protecting and conserving this treasure for future generations.