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What Is Yellowstone National Park?

Park rangers offer tours and camps at Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone National Park is famous for its geysers.
Moose inhabit Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone contains half of Earth's geothermal features.
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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2014
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Yellowstone National Park in the United States was the first national park in the world. The park stretches into Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, and it is home to many types of plant and animal life. Perhaps one of the most famous features of Yellowstone National Park is a geyser named Old Faithful. This geyser is part of the park's geothermal features that include other geysers, fumaroles and mudpots, which collectively comprise half of the geothermal features found on Earth.

Several expeditions in the 1800s led surveyors, artists and others through the area now known as Yellowstone National Park. The final expedition through, led by Ferdinand Hayden, produced an extensive report that was used to persuade the U.S. Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant, in 1872, to designate the area as a preserved land. In order to keep the area protected and beautiful for generations to come, Hayden declared that it must be saved from anyone who would despoil it.

The designation of the Yellowstone area as a national park led to other areas in the U.S. and the world being preserved as national park areas. Many people felt that in order to preserve natural beauty within their localities, it was important to enact legislation to designate them as protected areas. Extensive park systems are found in many localities for visitors to observe and enjoy responsibly.

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With the proliferation of railways, and the later invention of automobiles, visits to Yellowstone National Park steadily increased in its early days. Most people initially toured Yellowstone on horseback or in a stagecoach, and later roads were paved so cars could make their way through the park. Even with an extensive road system, much of Yellowstone remains undeveloped and open for backcountry hiking, camping and other outdoor recreational activities.

Yellowstone National Park has five entrances into the park, each providing a different scenic drive. Harsh weather conditions, usually in the winter and early spring months, sometimes warrant road closings throughout the park. Park personnel keep the park website, telephone systems and guides updated with this information so that it is available for anyone planning a trip.

In addition to the natural beauty present throughout Yellowstone National Park, park rangers and other personnel conduct educational tours, classes and camps for visitors. Some programs run throughout the day during peak seasons, and others run less frequently and require registration. Resources are available for people who would like to learn about these programs while planning a visit to Yellowstone.

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