Yellowstone National Park Feature
America's First National Park
Yellowstone was established in 1872 as America's first national park. It's popularly believed that early-19th-century French trappers called the region Yellowstone when they heard a Sioux description of the yellow rock varieties in the deep canyon along the Yellowstone River. Only one small Shoshone band, the Sheepeaters, lived on the land now occupied by the park, but for thousands of years the Blackfeet, Crow, Bannock, Flathead, Nez Perce, and Northern Shoshone have known about the area's plentiful wildlife.
Mountain man John Colter became the first white American to explore Yellowstone, in 1807-08. His descriptions of geysers and boiling rivers prompted some mapmakers to dub the uncharted region Colter's Hell. Reports coming out of the region in the 1820s through the 1860s eventually prompted exploration by the federal government and designation of the area as America's first national park. At the time it was administered by the army; the National Park Service didn't come into existence until 1916.
Yellowstone's history is preserved in the park, at Norris's Museum of the National Park Ranger and in the displays and archives at the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth. During Heritage Days, held twice each summer (generally in June and August), authors and researchers share their knowledge of Yellowstone history in presentations on topics ranging from Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians to the fashions worn by park visitors over the decades.
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