The human history of the Yellowstone region goes back more than 11,000 years. The stories of people in Yellowstone are preserved in objects that convey information about past human activities in the region, and in people’s connections to the land that provide a sense of place or identity.
Today, park managers use archeological and historical studies help explain how humans left their mark in times gone by. Ethnography helps us learn about how groups of people identify themselves and their connections to the park. Research is also conducted to learn how people continue to affect and be affected by places that have been relatively protected from human impacts. Some alterations, such as the construction of roads and other facilities, are generally accepted as necessary to accommodate visitors. Information on the possible consequences of human activities both inside and outside the parks is used to determine when restrictions are needed to preserve each park’s natural and cultural resources as well as the quality of the visitors’ experience.
European Americans Arrive
In the late 1700s, fur traders traveled the Yellowstone River in search of Native Americans with whom to trade.
Expeditions Explore Yellowstone
Formal expeditions mapped and explored the area, leading to the nation's understanding of the region.
Birth of a National Park
Learn about Yellowstone's early days as a national park.
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Bartlett, R. 1985. Yellowstone: A wilderness besieged. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Carr, E. 2007. Mission 66: Modernism and the national park dilemma. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Clary, D. 1993. The place where hell bubbled up: A history of Yellowstone National Park. Moose, WY: Homestead Publishing.
Cook, C.W., D.E. Folsom, and W. Peterson. 1965. The Valley of the Upper Yellowstone: An exploration of the headwaters of the Yellowstone River in the year 1869. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Culpin, M.S. 2003. For the benefit and enjoyment of the people: A history of concession development in Yellowstone National Park, 1872–1966. YCR-CR-2003-01. NPS, Mammoth, WY.
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Haines, A. 1974. Yellowstone National Park: Its exploration and establishment. National Park Service.
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Last updated: June 5, 2018