150 Years of Yellowstone

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March 1, 2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.

 

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three elk walk through a large, stone archway with a large teepee nearby
North Entrance Teepee Installation Event

NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant, America's first national park was set aside to preserve and protect the scenery, cultural heritage, wildlife, geologic and ecological systems and processes in their natural condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Yellowstone serves as the core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the last and largest nearly intact natural ecosystems on the planet. Yellowstone has the most active, diverse, and intact collections of combined geothermal features with over 10,000 hydrothermal sites and half the world's active geysers. The park is also rich in cultural and historical resources with 25 sites, landmarks, and districts on the National Register of Historic Places.

Based on the park’s location at the convergence of the Great Plains, Great Basin, and Columbia Plateau, 27 Native American Tribes have historic and modern connections to the land and its resources. For over 10,000 years before Yellowstone became a national park, it was a place where Native Americans lived, hunted, fished, gathered plants, quarried obsidian, and used thermal waters for religious and medicinal purposes.

Park managers have learned many lessons during Yellowstone's 150 years. In the early 1900s, the government killed nearly all predators in the park, and the bison population was hunted to less than two dozen. Later that century, the fires of 1988 burned more than one-third of the park, and the introduction of nonnative lake trout decimated native Yellowstone cutthroat populations. Through modern resource management efforts involving bison, grizzly bears, native fish, gray wolves, wildland fire, and others, Yellowstone's ecosystem is the healthiest it has been in over a century.

 
snow-capped peaks and vast valley with overlaying text: "Yellowstone National Park State of the Park: 2021"
View/Download Yellowstone's 2021 State of the Park report.

NPS

Today, Yellowstone is facing new challenges. Employee housing, workforce development, historic preservation, effects of climate change, transboundary wildlife management, increasing visitation, and deteriorating infrastructure are issues impacting Yellowstone's workforce, resources, visitors, and gateway communities. To tackle these challenges, Yellowstone has set five major strategic priorities, each supporting the overarching National Park Service mission and each critical to Yellowstone's success. The priorities are: 1) Focus on the Core (workforce); 2) Strengthen the Yellowstone Ecosystem and Heritage Resources; 3) Deliver a World-Class Visitor Experience; 4) Invest in Infrastructure; and 5) Build Coalitions and Partnerships. Within each of these strategic priority areas are a wide range of actions designed to achieve success. Learn more about Yellowstone's recent successes and challenges, along with priorities and actions park managers intend to pursue in the future, in our State of the Park report.

Yellowstone is bigger than its boundary. Each of our partners play a vital role in making decisions that protect Yellowstone for future generations and improve the positive conservation, environmental, economic, and social impacts the park provides this region and the country. As stewards of this inspiring place, it is an opportunity for us to reflect on the lessons of the past and strengthen Yellowstone for the future by making decisions that protect the health of the park for centuries to come.

During March-August this year, the park and partners will provide opportunities to reflect on 150 years of protecting Yellowstone National Park, highlight successes in the ecosystem, and open dialogue on the lessons learned from yesterday, the challenges of today, and a vision for tomorrow. We will focus on the stewards of Yellowstone, conservation and historic preservation, visitor experience, infrastructure, Tribal Nations, and partner engagement via social media, a bimonthly virtual video series featuring various subject matter experts, and a range of both virtual and in-person activities. Of particular importance to Yellowstone during the commemoration is to be reflective, intentional, inclusive, and impactful.

 

Anniversary Efforts

A variety of virtual and in-person activities will occur in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding gateway communities throughout 2022. Browse our list of anniversary efforts below, follow us on social media and use #Yellowstone150, and check out our park partners and nearby communities for additional activities. Details will be added and updated throughout the year, so check back often!

Yellowstone National Park closely monitors and responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the park may modify in-person activities. Due to COVID-19, the park does not currently have large in-person events planned; however, this may change as the year progresses.

We’d like to sincerely thank all our incredible 150 Years of Yellowstone partners: Yellowstone Forever; Yellowstone National Park Lodges; Montana State University, National Parks Conservation Association; Greater Yellowstone Coalition; Mountain Time Arts; Park County Environmental Council; University of Wyoming Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and College of Law; Wyoming Office of Tourism; and Delaware North.

 
Section Header: a park ranger holding up a phone with overlaying text, "Virtual Activities"
 

Monthly Hashtag Project

Post your photos and videos with our monthly hashtag for a chance to be featured on our social media! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where we will announce themes at the beginning of each month.


Virtual Video Series

Watch videos

Follow us on social media as we chat with Yellowstone staff and park partners about a wide variety of topics, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the park’s historic vehicle collection, the history of Yellowstone before it was designated a national park, Tribal connections to Yellowstone, recent wildlife research and discoveries, and more! Videos will be posted to our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, as well as our website.

 
Section Header: construction work on a high-alpine ridgeline with overlaying text, "Park Projects"
 
people skiing through a snowy landscape
Employees skiing the Glen Creek Trail.

Focus on the Core: Employee Health & Wellness

Parkwide | Employees and partners only

To promote employee wellness and commemorate 150 Years of Yellowstone, employees skied, snowshoed, walked, and ran a combined 1,955 miles in the park during February and March! This activity highlighted mental wellness and provided tools to employees to help build resiliency during some of the darkest days of the year. Following the event, the park hosted a certified counselor who met with employees to discuss work-life balance, how to cope with loss, and one-on-one private counseling sessions. Additionally, the park is participating in an employee health and wellness survey this year to gather information about what supports, or hinders, the health and well-being of park employees. The goal of this project is to address the most pressing health issues employees face and provide better support for our community now and into the future.

 
a brand new modular home
New modular housing for employees.

New Employee Housing Ribbon-Cutting

Spring 2022 | Mammoth Hot Springs
Employees only


Yellowstone initiated a $40 million housing improvement effort to substantially upgrade National Park Service employee housing across the park by replacing 64 outdated trailers. The old trailers, located throughout the park, were 40-60 years old and in substandard condition. This project also upgraded utilities and incorporated landscape designs to develop a sense of community. The park saved an estimated $36 million from the original housing improvement plan proposal. View more photos of new employee housing on our Flickr.

 
a car driving down a windy, mountainous road
Tower-Roosevelt to Chittenden Road after construction.

Tower-Roosevelt to Chittenden Road Ribbon-Cutting

Spring 2022 | Tower Junction
Employees and partners only


After two years of construction and roughly $28 million invested, Tower-Roosevelt to Chittenden Road (near Dunraven Pass) reopened May 27! This segment of road remained largely unchanged since the last improvements in the 1930s. Improvements include widening roughly 6 miles of Grand Loop Road and providing additional/improved pullouts; creating a larger, safer parking area at Tower Fall General Store; improving the trail and overlook for Tower Fall; and reconditioning Chittenden Road and reconstructing the Mt. Washburn parking area. To fund this infrastructure improvement, the park received a grant through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands Program and matched it with fee dollars collected in the park. View more photos of this project on our Flickr.

 
mountain peak range
First Peoples Mountain (tallest peak in photo above) in the Absaroka Range of Yellowstone.

Mount Doane Now Named First Peoples Mountain

Spring 2022 | Learn more

Yellowstone National Park announced June 9, 2022, that Mount Doane is now named First Peoples Mountain. First Peoples Mountain was previously named after Gustavus Doane, a key member of the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition in 1870 prior to Yellowstone becoming the first U.S. national park. Research has shown that Doane led an attack on a band of Piegan Blackfeet in 1870. During what is now known as the Marias Massacre, at least 173 American Indians were killed, of which Doane wrote fondly and bragged about for the rest of his life. First Peoples Mountain is a 10,551-foot peak in the Absaroka Mountains located east of Yellowstone Lake.

 
a bridge with crumbling concrete
Current condition of Lewis River Bridge.

Lewis River Bridge Project Groundbreaking

Summer 2022 | South Entrance Road
Employees and partners only


This $28 million project includes the removal and replacement of the structurally deficient Lewis River Bridge. Beginning spring 2022, the existing 273-foot-long bridge, built in 1960, will be removed, and a new bridge will be constructed immediately downstream to preserve safe visitor access between South Entrance and West Thumb. Parking areas, overlooks, and walkways in this area will be updated and reconfigured to reduce traffic hazards and improve accessibility for visitors. This project is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act and Legacy Restoration Fund. View more photos of this project on our Flickr.

 
a large historical building with peeling paint
Current condition of building exteriors in historic Fort Yellowstone.

Historic Fort Yellowstone Preservation Project Groundbreaking

Fall 2022 | Mammoth Hot Springs
Employees and partners only


This $22 million project is the largest cultural resources preservation effort in the National Park Service. It will stabilize and rehabilitate the exteriors of 16 buildings located within the Historic Fort Yellowstone and Lower Mammoth areas, where structures remain from the 1890s and early 1900s when the U.S. Army administered the park. Fort Yellowstone is also listed as a National Historic Landmark District, the highest designation. This project is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act. View more photos of this project on our Flickr.

 
a large building in an open area
Current condition of the historic Laurel Dorm.

Historic Laurel Dorm Preservation Project Groundbreaking

Fall 2022 | Old Faithful
Employees and partners only


This $21 million project, funded through the Great American Outdoors Act and Legacy Restoration Fund, will preserve and stabilize the Historic Laurel Dormitory and repurpose the building from concession dormitory to National Park Service employee housing. This structure is part of the Old Faithful Historic District, designed in 1922 by Robert Reamer, who designed the famous Old Faithful Inn. The project will provide approximately 20 safe and efficient employee apartments with updated mechanical and electrical systems. View more photos of this project on our Flickr.

 
three people looking at archeological finds outdoors
Park Archeologist Beth Horton with Salish Kootenai College students.

Tribal Internship Program

Fall 2022

Yellowstone has partnered with Salish Kootenai College (SKC), the Tribal Preservation Historic Office, and National Parks Conservation Association to develop an internship program for recent graduates of SKC. The candidate will gain experience through work with each partner throughout the year-long program.

 
a bison leaping out of a trailer
Yellowstone bison at Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Bison Conservation Transfer Program Expansion Completion

Fall 2022 | Stephens Creek
Employees and partners only


Since 2019, 182 bison were transferred to the Fort Peck Tribes in northeastern Montana. Of those 182 bison, roughly 140 were transferred to about 20 other member Tribes across North America to start conservation herds. Yellowstone has partnered with Yellowstone Forever and Greater Yellowstone Coalition to more than double the capacity for the Bison Conservation Transfer Program. Together, we’re building a better future for our national mammal. View more photos of this project on our Flickr.

 

Past Anniversary Efforts

 

February 28 – March 1, 2022 | Cheyenne, WY | Learn more

Dedicated to celebrating and educating Wyoming’s tourism industry, the Wyoming Governor’s Conference is the year’s single event that brings together over 300 influential tourism and hospitality industry representatives. Cam Sholly, superintendent of Yellowstone, was among the keynote speakers.

March 1, 2022 | Watch recorded gathering

To honor Indigenous ways of life practiced in the area long before 1872 and explore how we can work together to create a brighter future, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation welcomed all Tribal Nations and people to gather online March 1 to commemorate the park’s anniversary while elevating the Tribal community’s voice in conserving and managing Yellowstone.

April 15 - Aug. 31, 2022 | Download reading list and tracker sheet

This summer, the Yellowstone Research Library hosted a Sesquicentennial Summer Reading Challenge! To celebrate the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872, participants were challenged to read 1,872 minutes (about 30 hours) between April 15 - Aug. 31. Although the summer challenge is over, anyone can still download our recommended reading list and tracker sheet (above) and work with your local library or inter-library loan to find some new books. Happy reading!

April 23, 2022 | Gardiner, MT

The Yellowstone Environmental Coordinating Committee, comprised of National Park Service and park concessioner employees, provided trash bags and gloves to participants for a town cleanup in Yellowstone’s gateway community of Gardiner, Montana. After the cleanup, Yellowstone National Parks Lodges provided free lunch and refreshments to participants while various speakers, including Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly, highlighted current park sustainability efforts.

View photos of the event on our Flickr.

May - September 2022 | Haynes Photo Shop at Old Faithful | Learn more

Yellowstone National Park and official nonprofit partner, Yellowstone Forever, in collaboration with Tribal consultation, piloted a Tribal Heritage Center at Old Faithful. The center provided a public space where Native American artists, scholars, and presenters could directly engage with visitors through formal and informal education.

May 6, 2022 | Old Faithful Inn | Learn more

Yellowstone’s lodging concessioner, Yellowstone National Park Lodges, hosted a public event at the Old Faithful Inn on May 6, coinciding with the summer season opening of the historic inn. There were remarks from National Park Service and partner representatives, refreshments, and free Historic Yellow Bus tours of the Old Faithful Historic District area. A Native American Art Exhibition and Marketplace was open throughout the weekend.

View photos of the event on our Flickr.

May 15-18, 2022 | Montana State University in Bozeman, MT | Learn more

The 15th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, hosted by Montana State University, was an opportunity to gather, share discoveries and ideas, find common ground, and examine different ways of understanding natural and cultural resources. The theme for 2022 was “Expanding the Scope of Science Together: The Next 150 Years.” The conference brought together researchers and practitioners from academia, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and Tribal communities to discuss scientific findings and management needs associated with the Greater Yellowstone region.

May 19-20, 2022 | Virtual and in-person at Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY | Watch recorded panels

The University of Wyoming College of Law and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources hosted a symposium marking Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary. The two-day event was open to the public both in person and online and featured prominent figures from the National Park Service and elsewhere within the Department of the Interior—including Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly—as well as from numerous Yellowstone-associated Native American Tribes. They were joined by a host of academics, scholars, scientists, and other participants. The historic event explored the goals, successes, and shortcomings of the park over the past 150 years and looked to the future to examine key issues it now faces.

June 1-3, 2022 | Wind River Reservation | Learn more

The Wind River Inter-Tribal Gathering brought together Tribal Nations, federal managers, non-governmental organizations, and others to discuss conservation, current issues of importance to Tribal Nations, and the future of consultation and collaboration. Yellowstone’s 27 associated Tribes, as well as nonprofits and agency personnel, gathered to honor, nourish, dance, heal, and celebrate Native Americans. Cam Sholly, superintendent of Yellowstone, was among the keynote speakers.

July 28-30, 2022 | Canyon Village

Members of the Nez Perce Appaloosa Horse Club and Yellowstone staff rode sections of the Nez Perce Trail in the park July 28-29. The public were invited to Canyon Village on July 30 as members coordinated a horse parade in traditional regalia and presented fireside chats on the history and culture of the NiMiiPuu (Nez Perce). This project was intended to connect Nez Perce youth and adults to the trail, their history, and ancestors and share this information and experience with Yellowstone employees and visitors.

View photos of the event on our Flickr.

Aug. 17-28, 2022 | Parkwide | Learn more

Yellowstone coordinated with Mountain Time Arts to premiere a series of public, place-based projects and artworks created by an inter-Tribal group of artists and scholars in locations throughout the park. The public was invited to learn about historic and continued presence of Indigenous people in the Yellowstone region. Lead artists included Dr. Shane Doyle (Apsáalooke); Patti Baldes (Northern Arapaho/Northern Paiute); Dean Nicolai (Bitterroot Salish); and Tim Ryan (Salish). The cultural and artistic co-producers were Ren Freeman (Eastern Shoshone) and Mary Ellen Strom. Event partners included Mountain Time Arts; the city of Gardiner, Montana; Yellowstone Forever; National Parks Conservation Association; Greater Yellowstone Coalition; Park County Environmental Council; Pretty Shield Foundation; and Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council.

Yellowstone Revealed consisted of four main projects/artworks:

  1. Lighted Teepees: Resiliency of the People by Pretty Shield Foundation and Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council
    Aug. 17-28, 2022 | Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, MT
    Seven teepees were installed and illuminated nightly at sunset.
  2. ReVisiting Cultural Landscapes Through Stories by Dean Nicolai and Tim Ryan
    Aug. 23-27, 2022 | Various in-park locations
    This project included a series of interpretive hikes, demonstrations, and storytelling along the southern route of the Grand Loop Road. The purpose of this series was to give park visitors insight into diverse Indigenous knowledges, ways of knowing, and connection to landscapes. Each day, different representative knowledge keepers led hikes and engaged with visitors.
  3. All Nations Teepee Village by Shane Doyle
    Madison Junction
    Aug. 23-27, 2022 | Cultural Ambassadors
    Aug. 23-25, 2022 | Nightly performances

    This project featured 13 teepee lodges and 15 teepee rings that signify a new era of Indigenous inclusion and representation of the 27 affiliated Tribal Nations of Yellowstone National Park. The installation came to life with a community of Cultural Ambassadors sharing knowledge with visitors and nightly performances.
  4. REMATRIATE by Patti Baldes
    Aug. 24, 2022 | Madison Junction
    Aug. 25, 2022 | Old Faithful

    The public joined us at sunset to witness an artwork showcasing seven moving buffalo sculptures made of willow branches while 14 dancers and 10 drummers that brought the buffalo to life. The focus of this project was land rematriation through buffalo restoration.

View photos and videos of these events on our Flickr.

Aug. 25, 2022 | Old Faithful Lodge Recreation Hall

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes held a gathering in the Old Faithful Lodge Recreation Hall (located behind the Old Faithful Lodge) to engage with park visitors about the Tribes' homeland. There were morning remarks by Tribal Council Members and Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly, as well as informational booths, presentations, and dancing by Tribal members throughout the day.

 

Learn About Yellowstone

  • People walk across a boardwalk over steaming, colorful hot springs.

    Strategic Priorities

    The priorities of core, resources, experience, infrastructure, and partnerships guide park management decision making.

  • Historic colorized photograph of horses going under a large stone arch.

    History & Culture

    Explore the rich human and ecological stories that continue to unfold.

  • People posing alongside an historic yellow park bus.

    Partners

    Learn how partners help support efforts to preserve and protect the park's spectacular natural and cultural features.

 

Press Kit

If you are a member of the media or interested to write about 150 Years of Yellowstone, you can find background information, frequently asked questions, and high-resolution photographs and videos in our Press Kit.

Last updated: October 20, 2022

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