Explore Yellowstone History

In 1872, Yellowstone became the world’s first national park. Learn about the history of the park, the people who were passionate about the area, and the transitions that park has gone through.

> The Hayden Expedition of 34 men, explored and mapped Yellowstone Lake.

> The first photographs of Yellowstone Lake by William Henry Jackson, and paintings of the waterfalls and geysers by Thomas Moran, helped to persuade the U.S. Congress to preserve Yellowstone.

> The 1894 Lacey Act protected Yellowstone’s diverse wildlife, paving the way for wildlife and environmental movements

Early Yellowstone visitors at Handkerchief Pool (1923). Photo courtesy NPS

100 Years in Yellowstone – Then and Now

The National Park Service was established on August 25, 1916. In the 100 years since the NPS took over park management, Yellowstone has undergone many changes. Read More...

Quake Lake. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

1959 Earthquake forms Quake Lake West of Yellowstone

On Aug. 17, 1959 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake devastated Hebgen Lake, Montana, killing 28 people and creating Quake Lake Read More...

A bison crosses the road as firefighters battle the 1988 Yellowstone fires. Photo courtesy NPS

1988 Fires of Yellowstone

“Three-hundred-sixty degrees around me, everything was on fire,” he said, recalling Sept. 7, 1988 when a firestorm broke loose near the Old Faithful Inn. Read More...

Doug Smith carrying a wolf in the Rose Creek Pen, February 1997. Photo NPS Jim Peaco

1995 Reintroduction of Wolves in Yellowstone

The history of wolves in Yellowstone – what has happened to the environment when they were eradicated and when they were brought back Jan 12, 1995. Read More...

Chief-Washakie, Shoshone Indians

Chief Washakie: Great Leader of the Shoshone people

Chief Washakie earned a reputation that lives on to this day-fierce warrior, skilled politician and diplomat, great leader of the Shoshone people, friend to white men. Read More...

Last Stand Hill (named for Custer's Last Stand), over the mass grave of the Seventh Cavalry soldiers, U.S. Indian Scouts, and other personnel killed in battle. Earlier interpretations were largely mono-cultural, honoring only the U.S. Army's perspective, with headstones marking where each fell. Photo by Bailey P Baldwin via Wikimedia Commons.

Commemorate the Battle of the Little Bighorn on the Way to Yellowstone

At the battlefield, retrace steps of Indian warriors and U.S. soldiers. At the Crazy Horse Memorial, see the world’s largest mountain-carving-in-progress. Read More...

Yellowstone Tourism in the 1900s

Early Day Travel Was Hard on Tourists

Yellowstone had poor trails and no roads in early days. Travelers went by horse, rail and stagecoach until cars hit the scene in early 20th century. Read More...

Original Washburn survery of Yellowstone in 1869

First Accurate Written Account of Yellowstone Geography

Mining engineer David E. Folsom, and friends Charles Cook and William Peterson, first accurately documented the Yellowstone landscape in 1869. Read More...

Elk Sticking out Tongue

Funny and Tragic Tales in our National Parks

At What Altitude Does a Deer Become an Elk? Read a compilation of mostly funny, some weird and a few tragic tales of adventures in our national parks. Read More...

old-faithful-ghost

Ghosts of Yellowstone

With geysers hissing and the earth gurgling, it’s no wonder that Yellowstone National Park is home to its share of ghost stories. Read More...

The stairs to the Crow's Nest in the Old Faithful Inn.

Headless Bride Ghost of Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone has many ghosts stories, but the most famous tale is that of a headless bride who walks down the stairs from the Crow’s Nest in the Old Faithful Inn. Read More...

Fort Yellowstone Historic District

Historic Fort Yellowstone

Today, Fort Yellowstone is comprised of the Yellowstone National Park headquarters, the Horace Albright Visitor Center and staff accommodations. The fort’s 100-year-old buildings still stand to the attention of present-day park visitors – tangible remnants of a presence that has faded in time, but not in memory. Read More...

Yellowstone-Grand-Canyon-of

History of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Charles Cook explored the area in 1869, and is credited with discovering the canyon. The canyon, located below Lower Falls, is in a former geyser basin created by rhyolite lava flows. Read More...

Thomas Moran's "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" presented to Congress

How a Campfire Talk and a Painting Saved Yellowstone

Around a campfire in 1872 the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition first suggested establishing a national park in Yellowstone country. Read More...

yellowstone-colter-stone

John Colter – The Uncharted Explorer of Yellowstone

John Colter might have been the first white man to travel through the Jackson Hole valley and the steaming, bubbling landscape that is now Yellowstone. Read More...

Shoshoni Tipis Sheepeater Tribe

Legend of the Sheepeater Indian Tribe in Yellowstone

Yellowstone was the permanent home of one Native American tribe, but racism bred untrue rumors and tales. Read More...

Steam from Geysers beside Yellowstone Lake

Lost in Yellowstone, The Misadventures of Truman Everts

In 1870, Truman Everts went on a Yellowstone Expedition. He got lost two times then started a forest fire. So of course we offered him a superintendent job. Read More...

Buffalo Bill Cody c1892

Of Cattle and Queens: Buffalo Bill Cody

The founder of Cody, Wyoming called Mark Twain a friend, entertained Queen Victoria, and employed Annie Oakley in his Wild West show. Read More...

castle geyser in upper geyser basin

Paddle Past Deadman’s Bar on the Snake River

Three murdered bodies discovered in the Snake River in the late 1800’s have yet to find justice. Read More...

Dan Wenk, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park

Q&A with Yellowstone’s Superintendent Dan Wenk

Reminiscing about the last century, and thoughts about the challenges and opportunities for the next century. Read More...

Roosevelt Gate: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.

Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone’s North Entrance

Enter Yellowstone National Park from the north entrance and you’ll get a chance to see (and take a picture next to) the iconic Roosevelt Arch. Read More...

This 1894 photo of Yellowstone soldiers posing with bison killed by a poacher led to national public outcry and spurred Congress to give the Army the power to prosecute park violators. Photo by NPS

The Photo that Saved the Bison in Yellowstone

A 1894 photo of Yellowstone soldiers posing with bison killed by a poacher led to national public outcry and spurred Congress. Read More...

Stagecoach at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone

The History of West Yellowstone

The trip E.H. Harriman, president of the Union Pacific Railroad, and Frank J. Haynes, president of Monida & Yellowstone Stage Line, made to Yellowstone National Park in 1905, led to the existence of the town of West Yellowstone. Read More...

Yellowstone at the Movies

This is Yellowstone: Movies Featuring Yellowstone

Documentaries aside, movies about Yellowstone National Park tend to focus on fiery natural disasters. Read More...

Stagecoach in Yellowstone by Frank J Haynes

Vintage Postcards of Yellowstone by Frank J Haynes

As Yellowstone’s official park photographer from 1884-1921, Mr. Haynes’ photographs were widely published in articles, books and made into souvenir postcards Read More...

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Lower Falls from Artist Point.

Yellowstone’s Artist Point Name Was a Mistake

Many people think that this was the spot where famous artist Thomas Moran painted. Yellowstone Park photographer F. Jay Haynes thought the same thing. Read More...

Philetus Walter Norris in his trapper clothing

Yellowstone’s First Park Superintendents

Horace Albright, Nathaniel Langford, and Philetus Norris were essential to the success of Yellowstone National Park, and quite the characters. Read More...