At Madison Junction, the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers converge to form the Madison River. Overlooking the confluence is a promontory known as National Park Mountain. It is 7560 feet in elevation and part of the Madison Plateau lava flow. As legend has it, it is here that history was made when a few men sat around a campfire and discussed the future of this special place we know as Yellowstone National Park. The Washburn exploration party is said to have camped at the base of this mountain during their expedition through the Yellowstone region in 1870.
Supposedly as they sat around the campfire, they talked of all the wonders they had seen and what should become of this spectacular landscape. And they came up with the idea to create a national park.
We don’t know if the legendary campfire conversation truly happened, but we do know that Yellowstone National Park was established two years later in 1872 as the world’s first national park and we have all inherited a magnificent gift. National Park Mountain symbolizes the birthplace of an idea—the idea to preserve what is best about our country.
Now we have over 380 national park units in the United States, and many other countries have national parks as well. They are incredibly popular spots for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives, connect with nature or their families, learn about their heritage, challenge themselves or just relax. Even if the campfire story is only a legend, the idea to create a national park was a great one. Possibly the best idea America ever had.