I’m excited to announce that my Featured Travel Destination for June is Yellowstone National Park, one of my favorite places in the U.S.
If you’re a national park junkie, you may already know much of this trivia about Yellowstone. For the rest of us, here are some fun facts about YNP!
1 Yellowstone was the world’s first national park
The park was established by Congress and President Grant in 1872. Most of Yellowstone (96%) is in Wyoming, but parts extend into Montana and Idaho. The park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Its elevation ranges from 5,282 feet to 11,358 feet (at Eagle Peak.) About 80% of the park is forested.
2 Yellowstone is home to half of the world’s geothermal features
That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. Most people are familiar with Old Faithful, the geyser that shoots out scalding water every 90 minutes or so. But the park has around 10,000 thermal features, including about 500 geysers, as well as hot springs and mudpots.
3 Old Faithful was once used as a laundromat
In the 1880s, members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition discovered that clothes placed inside the crater became totally clean once ejected by Old Faithful. They found that linen and cotton washed just fine, but wool clothes were shredded by the geyser.
4 Old Faithful is not the park’s largest geyser
That distinction belongs to Steamboat Geyser, which can shoot water as high as 300 feet, more than 100 feet higher than Old Faithful. Steamboat Geyser’s eruptions are unpredictable, though. Since 1991, it has erupted only eight times, and the amount of time between eruptions has varied from 30 days to nine years.
5 Yellowstone is home to the most remote spot in the lower 48 states
As reported in a book by Tim Cahill, the southeast corner of the park is home to the Thorofare Ranger Station, the most remote occupied dwelling in the lower 48 states. It’s more than 32 miles from any other road or dwelling. A park ranger travels by horse to reach this station. If that sounds like an awesome place to visit, you may want to read this.
6 No one has been killed by a bear inside Yellowstone since 1986
While the park has plenty of grizzly and black bears, no visitor to Yellowstone has been killed by a bear since 1986. But there were two widely-reported incidents last year where campers just outside the park’s borders were killed by bears. Visitors spot bears all the time, and generally, the animals keep their distance from humans. Wyoming officials claim there are more than 1,000 grizzlies in the park – too many, they say, and they’re trying to get the authority to cut the population. UPDATE: This is tragically no longer the case.
7 The strongest Yellowstone earthquake in recorded history came in 1959
With all the crazy geological features and the instability of the land underneath Yellowstone, you’d think there would be powerful quakes there all the time. Indeed, there are more than 2,000 a year. But the strongest was the 1959 quake in the Montana portion of the park that registered between a 7.3 and 7.5 on the Richter scale. It destroyed roads, created new geysers and was said to cause a landslide that killed 28 people.
8 Yellowstone has a supervolcano
The Yellowstone Caldera is known as a “supervolcano.” Its eruptions helped form the Snake River Plain. Molten lava is believed to exist perhaps as little as two miles below the surface. Its most recent three eruptions were 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago, and 640,000 years ago. Do the math – we may be due for another eruption sometime soon!
9 Yellowstone has a Grand Canyon
Creatively titled “The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone,” this waterfall was carved by the Yellowstone River and reaches up to a half-mile in width. This is one of nearly 300 waterfalls inside Yellowstone National Park.