Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, 2,219,791 acres (899,015 hectares), the world's first national park (est. 1872), NW Wyo., extending into Montana and Idaho. It lies mainly on a broad plateau in the Rocky Mts., on the Continental Divide, c.8,000 ft (2,440 m) above sea level, surrounded by mountains from 10,000 to 14,000 ft (3,048–4,267 m) high. The area, a huge craterlike volcanic basin (caldera), is a geological "hot spot" responsible for several massive eruptions, the most recent occurring some 600,000 years ago. The plateau is mostly formed from once-molten lava.

Volcanic activity is evidenced by nearly 10,000 hot springs, 200 geysers, and many vents and mud pots. The more prominent geysers are unequaled in size, power, and variety. Old Faithful, the best known although not the largest, erupts every 40 to 70 min and shoots c.11,000 gal (41,640 liters) of water some 150 ft (46 m) high. Mammoth Hot Springs, a series of five terraces with reflecting pools, continues to grow as residue from the mineral-rich water is deposited.

The park also has petrified forests, lava formations, and the "black glass" Obsidian Cliff. Eagle Peak, 11,370 ft (3,466 m), is the highest point. Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and waterfalls are notable features on the Yellowstone River, which crosses the park. The park has a wide variety of flowers and other plant life. Bears, mountain sheep, elk, bison, moose, many smaller animals, and more than 200 kinds of birds inhabit Yellowstone, which is one of the world's largest wildlife sanctuaries. Fires in 1988 burned about 36% of the park, but animal and plant life rebounded quickly, as the nutrient influx in the ash nourished the soil.

See also National Parks and Monuments, table.

See J. Muir, Yellowstone National Park (1979); B. T. Scott, The Geysers of Yellowstone (rev. ed. 1986); G. Wuerthner, Yellowstone & the Fires of Change (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Yellowstone and the Great West: Journals, Letters, and Images from the 1871 Hayden Expedition
Marlene Deahl Merrill.
University of Nebraska Press, 1999
Yellowstone: The Creation and Selling of An American Landscape, 1870-1903
Chris J. Magoc.
University of New Mexico Press, 1999
Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park
Paul Schullery; Lee Whittlesey.
University of Nebraska Press, 2003
History of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Arthur David Howard.
The Society, 1937
The Discovery of Yellowstone Park: Journal of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the Year 1870
Nathaniel Pitt Langford.
University of Nebraska Press, 1972
Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks
Mark David Spence.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Before the Wilderness: Native Peoples and Yellowstone" and Chap. 4 "First Wilderness: America's Wonderland and Indian Removal from Yellowstone National Park"
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