USA · Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park, set aside to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. It covers nearly 3500 square miles of northwestern Wyoming as well as parts of Idaho and Montana. An important, self-sufficient ecosystem and home to a huge variety of free-ranging wild animals, Yellowstone National Park also sits on top of an ancient super volcano, which scientists believe last erupted about 640000 years ago. Spewing more than 600 cubic miles of volcanic material into the air, a series eruptions over the past 2 million years have created a massive caldera, or volcanic basin, measuring 34 by 44 miles across and nearly three-quarters of a mile deep.
Tall, rugged mountains including the Gallatin, Absorka, Washburn and Beartooth Ranges rim the park’s volcanic plateau. Yellowstone National Park also sits on the Continental Divide, with water from its numerous lakes and springs draining towards opposite sides of the United States. As a result, the Snake River and Yellowstone River both have origins within the park; the Snake flows westward towards the Pacific Ocean, and the Yellowstone flows eastward towards the Atlantic. The various rivers in the park have carved their way through the landscape with spectacular results. Most notable is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is 900 feet deep and a half-mile wide in certain spots, with cascading waterfalls and brightly colored red and yellow walls, a result of geothermal and chemical reactions to the iron in the rock.
Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike or prefer to sit quietly and watch the sunset, Yellowstone National Park offers a great diversity of activities for all to enjoy. Popular activities include camping and hiking, boating, bicycling, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and guided tours.