Agency Spotlight–Yellowstone National Park

Jun 8, 2017


Located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it was established by Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national U.S. park and it’s widely considered to be the first national park in the world.

Old Faithful

The park is known for its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser. Old Faithful gets its name from being highly predictable. Since 2000, it’s erupted every 44-125 minutes.

In the early days of the park, Old Faithful was used for laundry. “Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place.”

More than 1,000,000 eruptions have been recorded, and they can shoot 3,700-8,400 gallons of boiling water to a height of 106-185 ft., lasting from 1 ½ -5 minutes. The average height of the eruptions is 145 ft.

Early History

Native Americans have lived in Yellowstone for at least 11,000 years. Organized exploration didn’t begin until the late 1860’s. Management and control of the park fell under the authority of the Secretary of the Interior. Then the U.S. Army was commissioned to oversee management of Yellowstone for a 30-year period between 1886-1916.

In 1917, administration of the park transferred again. But this time, it moved to the newly created National Park Service. Since then, hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their archaeological and historical significance. Researchers have also examined more than 1,000 archaeological sites within the park.


The park is so diverse that it contains lakes, canyons, rivers, mountain ranges, and the largest super volcano on the continent. Half the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone, which is fueled by ongoing volcanism, and two-thirds of the world’s geysers are found there.

The park is also part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—the largest remaining nearly intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone.

Yellowstone is also home to the largest and most famous megafauna (large and giant animals), and the oldest and largest public bison herd in the U.S.

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