My love for Yellowstone National Park began in the summer following my sophomore year of college. That was when I accepted the position of Travel Agent at Mammoth Motor Inn at the north entrance to the park. At that time most travel within the park was via the buses of Yellowstone Park Company (YPC).
My job was to coordinate the travel of visitors on those buses as they traveled through the park. The position provided me with free travel in the park via those buses and I took full advantage of that option. Then, the YPC generally discouraged its summer employees from bringing their personal autos with them, as there was little available parking. I was one of the few who had free access to most areas in the park. I also managed the Avis franchise at Mammoth and frequently delivered orphaned autos to Jackson, WY, and Red Lodge, MT, to be returned to their original locations. Those drives added the 12o mile trip to Red Lodge over the Beartooth mountains to my travel log, a drive that is uniquely beautiful.
Other summer employees, relied upon their right thumb to catch a ride from friendly drivers. That summer, this boy from Satellite Beach, Florida fell in love with mountains, geysers, bears, Bob Dillon, and Yellowstone Park itself. Bob Dillon is a separate story.
When I returned some 15 years later with my lovely bride Kathy, much had changed. The most significant change was removal of the open trash dumps just outside of Gardiner, MT. That was where you went after dark to see several Grizzlies rummage for food. You typically watched through the back window of a hard-top car, while sitting with the transmission in drive and one foot on the brake. Also gone were the brown bears who begged along the roads for food pushed out of a slightly opened window.
Kathy and I returned thereafter on a regular basis and in 1993 we purchased property in Red Lodge, Mt. along Rock Creek and just at the foot of the Beartooth mountain range. Later we built a cabin and became part of that community.
Yellowstone National Park situated in northwest Wyoming, and parts of Idaho and Montana is typically described at the flagship of the US National Park system. Some 3-million plus visitors pass through the parks five entrances each year. The name Yellowstone is historically attributed to the name for the river that runs south to north through the park. The Native American’s name for the river was “Mi tsi a da zi,” which generally means “Rock Yellow River.” The reference to yellow rock was probably modified to Yellowstone by the early trappers and traders who worked this area who visited the canyon area just below just below the two falls that are to the east of what is now know as Canyon Village.
Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 making it the world’s first national park.
Here are some key factors about the park:
- The park encompasses some 2,219,789 acres and is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
- There are seven species of ungulates including: Bison, pronghorn antelope, moose, elk, white tail deer and mule deer)
- There are two species of bear and some 70 other mammals
- There are over 300 species of birds, 16 species of fish.
- The reintroduced “gray wolf.”
- It holds the world’s largest calderas with more than 300 geysers.
- It contains one of the world’s largest petrified forests.
- It has over 290 waterfalls,
- Yellowstone Lake is the largest (132 sq. mi.) high altitude (7,732′) lake in North America.