A log and stone structure with shingled roof and port cochere
The Old Faithful Upper Service Station, built in 1929, is an example of rustic architecture, intended to enhance rather than detract from the setting of the Old Faithful Geyser.

NPS photo


Historic districts, historic structures, and cultural landscapes built between 50 and 150 years ago are cultural resources that tell the story of how people managed, enjoyed, and traveled through the world’s first national park.

The park’s front country consists of developments that were historically constructed around Yellowstone’s natural features. A figure-eight system of roads provided access to these developed areas and features. Much of the front country contains buildings (e.g., lodges, cabins, employee quarters, ranger stations), roads and bridges, trails, and cultural landscape features and patterns (e.g., overlook structures, vegetation patterns, viewsheds) that are considered historic properties or contribute to the character of a historic district. Historic districts can be comprised of a variety of buildings, sites, structures, and/or objects listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Yellowstone’s backcountry cabins are part of a large network of patrol or snowshoe cabins, based on a geographically strategic patrol operation established during the military administration of the park (1886–1918), and expanded through the National Park Service’s leadership (1918–present). They continue to be used today.

The legal requirement to protect and understand the importance of these resources affects how the park is managed today. So far, 843 structures including roads, bridges, utility structures, and grave markers are listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Over 600 of these structures are buildings. The park is in the process of evaluating properties for National Register of Historic Places eligibility, including 173 structures on the List of Classified Structures, approximately 127 buildings constructed during the NPS Mission 66 period (1945–1972), and 124 trails. To date, seven (25%) of the park’s cultural landscapes have been inventoried and evaluated for their historical significance.

Unlike other park resources, historic structures and cultural landscapes require cyclic maintenance such as in-kind replacement of roofs and pavement. Alterations are often required to bring historic structures up to safety codes such as strengthening a building so it withstands seismic events. Preserving a historic structure or cultural landscape requires minimizing the rate at which historic fabric is lost and ensuring additions and alterations are compatible with historic character.

National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) possess exceptional value as commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States. The National Park Service is required to exercise a higher standard of care when considering undertakings that may directly or adversely affect NHLs. Fort Yellowstone National Historic Landmark District is located within Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District and continues to be the headquarters for Yellowstone National Park. Historic buildings, structures (Roosevelt Arch, Powerhouse), and sites (parade grounds, cemetery) contribute to the significance of this district.

Yellowstone is also home to five NHLs that are nationally influential examples of park “rustic” architecture—the Old Faithful Inn, the Northeast Entrance Station, and the Norris, Madison, and Fishing Bridge museums.


Lake Hotel

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    Lamar Buffalo Ranch

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      Other Places

      • Cultural landscapes are the places people create in the natural world.
      • Yellowstone Lake, 9,000 years ago: The earliest intact cultural deposits in the park have been found at a site on the shore of Yellowstone Lake.
      • Town Site of Cinnabar, Montana, 1903: The Northern Pacific Railroad established Cinnabar in 1883 as the last stop on its branch line to Yellowstone National Park. It was abandoned in 1902-1903.
      • Haynes Photo Shops, 1884: As leaders in concessions development in Yellowstone from 1884 to 1962, Frank Jay Haynes and his son Jack Ellis Haynes constructed many buildings for their enterprises.
      • Lodging No Longer Standing: Several hotels are no longer standing in Yellowstone.
      • Historic Backcountry Cabins

      More Information

      • Scan of an historic Haynes postcard showing Roosevelt Arch
        History & Culture

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

      • A horseshoe covered in white rock reads

        The Heritage and Research Center houses Yellowstone's extensive museum collection, archives, and research library.

      • Photo of rangers near Old Faithful

        Review our laws and policies, meet park managers, and examine projects and budgets.

      Last updated: March 15, 2024

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      PO Box 168
      Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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