The Yellowstone region of North America has a long and illustrious history of human in-habitation before it became a national park. In fact, for approximately 11,000 years before an American would step foot on the land, aboriginal Americans fished, hunted, and called this land home. In 1805, during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, white explorers met the Nez Perce, Crow, and Shoshone tribes, and though they were told of the Yellowstone region to the south, they did not explore it.
The area that would eventually become the park has a literally mythical background. The first white explorer to visit the land, having seen its geothermic properties (geysers, hot springs, and petrified trees) returned home referring to the region as a place of “fire and brimstone,” a claim which most believed was a result of delirium suffered from the expedition and from battles he fought against the Native Americans in the area. Eventually, more reports of (at the time) unbelievable geothermic activity were being relayed east, yet still people considered them myth.
It was not until over sixty years later that a detailed expedition was made during the Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition of 1869. By 1871, the area was set aside by Congress as “a pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” and became the first national park in the United States.
About 2 million tourists have visited Yellowstone National Park for the past fifty years, making it one of the most frequently visited regions of the country. While the amount and type of business which is allowed into the park is highly regulated, the popularity of the area has made it so that the person looking to be surrounded both by breathtaking scenery and the amenities of home can have his needs met, as well as someone more interested in living off the land. There are nine hotels, and many smaller cabins run by the concessionaires at the park, offering varying degrees of luxury as befits the guest’s budget and tastes.
The park makes it relatively easy to access the various natural and man-made landmarks within the park, though road construction has been an ongoing reality for years. Still, there are over 300 miles of paved road within the park, and though it is best to have your own transportation to use these roads, it is easy to set up a tour with one of the tour companies. If you plan on using the roads for the vast majority of your trip, be prepared for delays, as anything from natural wildlife, to people stopping or slowing to photograph the scenery, to the ongoing road repairs, can cause traffic jams for miles.
This region of North America, from the Grand Teton National Park, to surrounding National Forests and north through Yellowstone, features more than 2,000 campsites in all manner of geography. Most are accessible by car and do not require a permit to use, though they can be difficult to reserve. Many others, however, though equally difficult to reserve, are only accessible on foot or horseback and permits are required to camp here. Pet owners are welcome at the park, but the pet must be kept on a leash at all times when outdoors and these visitors must camp near the “front country” campsites.
Though hunting is allowed during hunting season in the neighboring forests, it is not allowed at any time within the park. Fishing, however, is allowed and encouraged so long as the fisherman has acquired a Yellowstone Park fishing license. Fish cannot be kept and most waters are restricted to fly-fishing as the only means of fishing. The vast majority of waters do not allow boating, but Yellowstone Lake does have a marina.
Yellowstone National Park’s Official Website
Woods and Camping Safety for the Family
Winter RV Camping Safety
Hit the Road! RV Camping Safety Tips
Hiking Safety Guide
How to Choose a Camp
Cole Weather Camping and Hypothermia
What to Bring – Camping Lists
Kids and Healthy Lifestyles: How Camps Can Help
Making the Most of Our National Parks
Family Ideas for National Park Visits
History of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park’s Government Website
Yellowstone’s Hot Springs, Geysers, etc.
Montana Virtual Visitor
Yellowstone Park Foundation
Camping at Yellowstone National Park
Backcountry Camping in Yellowstone National Park
Support Your National Parks
What to Do If You Encounter a Bear
Yellowstone Teton Territory – Scenic Drives
Remaking the Fishing in Yellowstone National Park
Protect Yellowstone’s Native Fisheries
Yellowstone Association – Visiting Guide
Yellowstone with Kids – Winter Visits