When Travel Photos Inspired Congress to Protect One of the Most Beautiful Areas in the World.
After months-long scientific expeditions in 1870 and 1871 to this now popular destination, paintings and photographs of the journeys were given to members of Congress. The images of the region stunned both Representatives and Senators. And after mere weeks of debate the United States Congress wrote a bill authorizing the creation of Yellowstone National Park. On March 1st, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law making it the world’s first official National Park and thereby preserving for all time one of the most beautiful areas in the world. This single act also became a precursor of preservation efforts of beautiful, natural spaces in the United States and the World for all peoples to enjoy.
What makes this land so special, you ask? The boasts are many. Iconic wildlife, towering peaks, glorious plateaus, the scenic Yellowstone River and Yellowstone Lake, to name just a few prominent features. The whole Yellowstone area is one of the few intact and complete ecosystems in the contiguous United States with a full complement of native wildlife in their natural habitat: bighorn sheep, bison, elk, grizzly bears, lynx, mountain goats, mountain lions, wolves, and more. The fauna alone draws thousands of students every year!
Interested in geology? Contained in the park are hot springs, mudpots, steam vents, geysers, fumaroles, travertine terraces, all breath-taking. For all of you science wonks, there are more than 10,000 hydrothermal features within the park, including the greatest concentration of geysers in the world.
Or perhaps the history of humans grabs your attention. Yellowstone contains 11,000 years of preserved human history from the many tribes and bands of Native Americans to the arrival of fur-trappers.
What does all this mean? It means that reading about a place of such marvel and awe will not do. It must be experienced. There’s a reason Congress acted so quickly to protect this land and there is a reason millions of visitors visit this wonder of the world every year. It is simply a must-see, must-experience place. And there’s no better time to plan than now!