Today's National Park Service

A ranger poses in front of a car
When Frances Pound applied for a position in 1926, Yellowstone Superintendent Albright suggested she use her nickname, Jim. She was one of the first women hired to do law enforcement in Yellowstone. Today’s National Park Service workforce aims to reflect our nation’s diversity.



Implementing the National Park Service Mission

The National Park Service mission statement expresses the dual responsibility of preserving parks in their natural state (or, at historical areas, to preserve a scene as nearly as it appeared on a certain date), and making these areas accessible for public use and enjoyment. These two fundamental goals can be incompatible and present difficult choices; two policies provide some direction:

  • Natural resources (biological and physical, esthetic values such as scenic vistas, natural quiet, and night skies, etc.) are managed to maintain, rehabilitate, and perpetuate their inherent integrity. Native species that have been exterminated should be reintroduced and nonnative species eliminated, if possible. Livestock grazing, hunting, and resource extraction are prohibited in National Park System areas, with a few exceptions.
  • Cultural resources (prehistoric and historic structures, landscapes, archeological and ethnographic resources, and museum collections) are preserved.

International Leadership

The National Park Service example has inspired countries around the world to establish more than 100 national parks—modeled in whole or part on Yellowstone National Park and the National Park Service idea. Additionally, the National Park Service lends its experienced staff to other countries to evaluate park proposals, management plans, and resource issues. As the first national park, Yellowstone also continues to be a leader in developing and implementing policies in the National Park Service.

The National Park Service manages approximately 83 million acres in all 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa.

  • National parks are the oldest, most well-known part of the system and are usually areas of spectacular natural scenery relatively untouched by human development. National parks are established by acts of Congress.
  • National monuments are areas of historic or scientific interest established by presidential proclamation.
  • National historical parks and national historic sites are both set aside to commemorate some facet of the history of the people of those areas.
  • Many national memorials fit the description for national historical parks or sites, but some of these are also set aside because of important historical issues not specifically linked to the site of the memorial, such as Mt. Rushmore and Vietnam Veterans.

Total National Park Service Sites

As of January 8, 2020. Complete list of NPS sites.

Type of Site # of Sites
National Battlefields 11
National Battlefield Parks 4
National Battlefield Site 1
National Military Parks 9
National Historic Parks 57
National Historic Sites 76
International Historic Sites 1
National Lakeshores 3
National Memorials 30
National Monuments 83
National Parks 62
National Parkways 4
National Preserves 19
National Reserves 2
National Recreation Areas 18
National Rivers 5
National Wild & Scenic Rivers & Riverways 10
National Scenic Trails 3
National Seashores 10
Other Designations 11
Total 419

More Information

Rocks covered in lichen arranged in the shape of a tall fire ring on a mountain top
Park History

Learn about Yellowstone's story from the earliest humans to today.

Brown and gray columns of rock make up a cliff that towers up to a deep blue sky.
The Earliest Humans in Yellowstone

Human occupation of this area seems to follow environmental changes of the last 15,000 years.

Dead branches leaned up against a tree in a conical shape form a wickiup.
Historic Tribes

Many tribes have a traditional connection to this region and its resources.

Rifle and powder horn with a map etched on side resting on fur.
European Americans Arrive

In the late 1700s, fur traders traveled the Yellowstone River in search of Native Americans with whom to trade.

Man sits on a box in front of a canvas tent while another man stands next to him.
Expeditions Explore Yellowstone

Formal expeditions mapped and explored the area, leading to the nation's understanding of the region.

Historic Moran water color of hot springs with group standing in distance
Birth of a National Park

Learn about Yellowstone's early days as a national park.

"For the benefit and enjoyment of the people" etched in concrete and surrounded in stone
Modern Management

Managing the national park has evolved over time and dealt with some complex issues.

A group of people in a field
Timeline of Human History in Yellowstone

The human history of the Yellowstone region goes back more than 11,000 years.

Last updated: August 17, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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