150 Years of Yellowstone

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

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 and download Yellowstone's 2021 State of the Park report.


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 2022, the park and partners provided opportunities to reflect on 150 years of protecting the park, highlighted successes in the ecosystem, and opened dialogue on the lessons learned from yesterday, the challenges of today, and a vision for tomorrow. We focused 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 was to be reflective, intentional, inclusive, and impactful.


Anniversary Efforts

A variety of virtual and in-person activities occurred in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding gateway communities throughout 2022. Browse our list of anniversary efforts below, follow us on social media and browse #Yellowstone150, and check out our park partners and nearby communities for additional activities.

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: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.

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

Last updated: December 7, 2023

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Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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