History of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

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Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

The most breathtaking sight inside Yellowstone Park is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Twenty miles long, the canyon is up to 4,000-feet wide and 1,200-feet deep in places.

Charles Cook explored the area in 1869, and is credited with discovering the canyon. According to Lee Whittlesey’s Yellowstone Place Names, Cook was said to have commented: “I sat there in amazement, while my companions came up, and after that, it seemed to me that it was five minutes before anyone spoke.”

The canyon, located below Lower Falls, is in a former geyser basin created by rhyolite lava flows, heat and faulting. Chemical and heat action resulted in hydrothermal changes that today can be seen in the form of active geysers and hot springs. It is believed that at the end of the last glacial period melting ice dams at the mouth of Yellowstone Lake caused catastrophic flooding and erosion that led to the formation of the canyon as it exists today.



Grand Opening for Canyon Visitor Center

Yellowstone visitors in late summer will want to check out the new Canyon Visitor Education Center's grand opening on August 25. The new exhibits will focus on the park's volcano and geology stories, said Linda Young, deputy chief of interpretation.

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.