Today's National Park Service
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:
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.
Total National Park Service Sites
As of March 28, 2018. Complete list of NPS sites.
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.
Last updated: May 31, 2018