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

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...

Fire of 1988

1988 Fires of Yellowstone

Lee Whittlesey remembers the day that Yellowstone went up in smoke “Three-hundred-sixty degrees around me, everything was on fire,” he said, recalling Sept. 7, 1988 when a firestorm, which occur when large fires in need of oxygen burn intensely enough that they create and sustain their own wind system, broke loose near the historic Old 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...

old-faithful-ghost

Discover Unknown Yellowstone: Ghost of Old Faithful Inn

For decades, visitors have whispered about a headless ghost who haunts the balconies of Old Faithful Inn inside Yellowstone National Park. Read More...

castle geyser in upper geyser basin

Discover Unknown Yellowstone: Murders at Deadman’s Bar

Four miners set out on a journey, but only 1 returned. Read More...

Shoshoni Tipis Sheepeater Tribe

Discover Unknown Yellowstone: Sheepeater Tribe Legend

Yellowstone was the permanent home of one Native American tribe: the Sheepeaters, so-called for their primary food source, bighorn sheep. There’s just one problem: None of that turns out to be true. 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...

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-old-faithful-inn

Historic Old Faithful Inn Presence in Early Days

At one time Yellowstone travelers came in horse-drawn buggies or stagecoaches dressed in clothes of the early 1900s. Old Faithful Inn’s awe-inspiring size still dazzles present day travelers. 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

History remembers most legendary explorers for what they discovered, documented, and mapped, not for what they might have stumbled across on their wanderings. Read More...

Truman C Everts

Lost in the Yellowstone Wilderness

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...

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...

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

Yellowstone’s First Park Superintendents

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