History

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Orange badge with a silhouette arrowhead over a black-and-white photograph of the Old Faithful Inn.
For thousands of years before Yellowstone became a national park, it was a place where Native Americans seasonally hunted, fished, gathered plants, quarried obsidian, and used the hydrothermal waters for religious and medicinal purposes.
 

Associated Tribes

 
Map of the northwestern part of the USA showing the different tribes associated with Yellowstone.
Twenty-six tribes are associated with Yellowstone today, with historic and/or current-day ties to the park.
A - Assiniboine and Sioux J - Fladreau Santee Sioux S - Salish and Kootenai
B - Blackfeet K - Gros Ventre and Assiniboine T - Shoshone—Bannock
C - Cheyenne River Sioux L - Kiowa U - Sisseton—Wahpeton Sioux
D - Coeur d'Alene M - Lower Brule Sioux V - Spirit Lake Sioux
E - Comanche N - Nez Perce W - Standing Rock Sioux
F - Colville Reservation O - Northern Arapaho X - Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa
G - Crow P - Northern Cheyenne Y - Umatilla Reservation
H - Crow Creek Sioux Q - Oglala Sioux Z - Yankton Sioux
I - Eastern Shoshone R - Rosebud Sioux
 

Stepping Back in Time

Although Yellowstone was thoroughly explored by tribes and trappers, several formal explorations helped to convince the US Congress to establish Yellowstone National Park.

 
Timeline of the past 11,000+ years.
 

A - 13,000 to 14,000 years ago - The last glaciers in the area melt.

B - 11,000 years ago - People arrive in Yellowstone.

C - 1400 to 1800 - People camp on the shore of Yellowstone Lake for short periods during warm weather.

 
 

D - 1807 to 1808 - John Colter, after leaving the Lewis & Clark Expedition, becomes one of the first mountain men to explore the Yellowstone area.

E - 1834 to 1835 - Trapper Osborne Russell encounters a group of Native Americans.

 
Later photograph of two members from the 1869 Folsom-Cook-Peterson Expedition.

F - 1869 - The Folsom–Cook–Peterson Expedition was the first formal expedition to Yellowstone.

 
Men sit and stand along a lakeshore where a camp is set up.

William H. Jackson

G - 1872 - The Hayden Expedition included scientists, botanists, zoologists, mineralogists, and artists. Their reports documented the fantastic stories of the area and inspired people.

 
Painting of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River and the surrounding canyon.

Thomas Moran

H - 1872 - Work of artists Thomas Moran and William H. Jackson inspired the public to support preserving the area. Congress pass legislation and President U.S. Grant signed into law the creation of Yellowstone National Park—a global first—"for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

 
Portrait of Harry Yount wearing a tri-corner hat and a bushy beard.

I - 1880 - Harry Yount becomes Yellowstone's first park ranger.

J - 1883 - The railroad arrives and makes it easier for people to visit Yellowstone.

 
Soldiers pose with poached bison heads they confiscated.

K - 1886 - The US government turns to the US Army for help saving the park from threats. Company M, First United States Cavalry, takes charge of Yellowstone.

L - 1894 - US Army soldiers capture a poacher for killing Yellowstone's bison. A new law, the National Park Protection Act, helps protect Yellowstone's animals.

M - 1916 - The National Park Service is created to manage all of the USA's national parks.

N - 1918 - The National Park Service takes over management of Yellowstone from the US Army.

 
A man and woman sit at the front of a stagecoach, holding the reins, while three other passengers look out from the coach.
Early visitors traveled through Yellowstone on horseback or by stagecoach wagon.
 

O - 1959 - A 7.5 magnitude earthquake west of the park affects the geysers and hot springs in the park and damages park buildings.

P - 1966 - Dr. Thomas Brock discovers the thermophile Thermus aquaticus in a Yellowstone hot spring. It later revolutionized the study of DNA.

Q - 1972 - Yellowstone National Park turns 100!

R - 1988 - Fires in Yellowstone spark an increase in public understanding and acceptance of the role of fire in wildland areas.

 
Wolf runs out of its pen.

S - 1995 - Wolves are restored to Yellowstone. All 67 mammal species known to inhabit Yellowstone in the 1700s live wild in the park today.

T - 2016 - The National Park Service turns 100.

 
Child wearing a winter hat and coat looking out across a deep, aqua-green hot spring.

Kids & Youth

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Last updated: November 2, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

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