Celebrating 150 Years of Yellowstone


Leah Shaver, Writer

2022 is Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary, and people all around the nation are honoring the park and its world-famous landscape and wildlife.

Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant, a surprise to most who have been taught that President Theodore Roosevelt founded the park. “They always assume that it’s Roosevelt, but it isn’t. It goes further than Roosevelt. It goes back to President Grant,” Yellowstone historian Brandi Burns said in an interview. The park’s creation was part of the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act that President Grant signed.

While its creation certainly helped to guarantee Yellowstone’s preservation, it also set the stage for other attempts to conserve land. “Well, part of the reason why it was so significant is because it was the first of its kind. It’s really the first national park in the world, operated by the federal government, so it became a model for our entire park system, and for other countries that ended up creating national parks.” historian at the Museum of the Yellowstone Brandi Burns said.

As a result of the park’s beautiful landscape, Yellowstone has become a very popular vacation destination. As of July 2022, there have already been 1,864,771 visits to the park this year. “I think the natural features and the wildlife is what made the park so famous and why people wanted to come and see it. And it always has been a really popular vacation area,” Brandi Burns said.

While visitation is always high, every once in a while, some form of natural disaster will cause parts of the park to close, limiting the number of tourists entering. This summer, historic flooding occurred, causing many parts of the park to close down. People worldwide with plans to spend some time in one of the world’s many wonders, and one of America’s seven wonders, had to change their schedules abruptly.

“In June 2022, unprecedented amounts of rainfall caused substantial flooding, rockslides, and mudslides within Yellowstone National Park. Historic water levels caused severe damage to roads, water and wastewater systems, power lines, and other critical park infrastructure,” the National Park Service said on its website. While a majority of the park opened up to the public less than three weeks later, recovery efforts are continuing to be made as of October 2022.

Though the flood was one of the most catastrophic events in Yellowstone’s history, other natural disasters have also occurred in the park’s past. “There have been a few instances where the park has closed down because of natural disasters. The first one that I can talk about is the 1959 earthquake. It happened over outside of the park along the Madison River. And what happened is it was over seven on the Richter scale, so it was a really large earthquake, and half of a mountain came down and blocked the Madison River, which eventually flooded and created a lake. So they call that Quake Lake,” Brandi Burns said. In addition to the earthquake, there have also been numerous fires around the park.

Though these disasters may have caused setbacks, they ultimately shaped the way the landscape is today. This year, 2022, Yellowstone is celebrating its 150th anniversary. In these past 150 years, Yellowstone has provided habitats for just under 400 species of animals and vacation spots for millions of families. “My favorite part was not Old Faithful, it was actually Morning Glory, and I really liked the mud pots,” Kelly Carswell, a JC Booth Middle School teacher, said when asked about her favorite part of her family’s trip.

At 150 years, Yellowstone celebrates its unique history, awe-inspiring scenery, and promising future. “Yellowstone was absolutely breathtaking,” Mrs. Carswell said.