See 150 Years of Yellowstone National Park in Photos

Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Photos

Yellowstone National Park was established as the United States’ first national park in 1872. To celebrate its 150th year, National Geographic has published a series of photos captured over that time of what is often called America’s Wonderland.

The First National Park in the United States

Yellowstone National Park stretches across three states, with a majority of it found in Wyoming but parts of it continue into Montana and Idaho. The entire park spans 3,472 square miles of vast, varied landscape that includes forest, lakes, mountains, valleys, and canyons, National Geographic says. Additionally, some 90% of the park is untamed which makes it one of the last large intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone.

National Geographic reports that the region’s geological history reaches back at least 66 million years when volcanoes were responsible for producing some of the region’s more spectacular features.

Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Photos
VAPOR-WREATHED TERRACES of Mammoth Hot Springs introduced Jackson to Yellowstone, whose legendary wonders drew the U. S. government’s Hayden Survey in 1871, with Will as official photographer and landscapist Thomas Moran as part of his picture. Abundant hot water hastened on-the-spot developing. Jackson photos and Moran color sketches of Yellowstone’s geysers, caldrons, and awesome gorge influenced Congress to make the area the world’s first national park in 1872. | Courtesy of WYOMING UNIV OF AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER, original photograph by William Henry Jackson

“With more than 10,000 spouting, steamy, kaleidoscopic, sometimes smelly geothermal features, Yellowstone holds more geysers than the rest of the world combined,” National Geographic writes. “Indigenous Americans, arriving after the melt-back of the Pleistocene ice sheets, have lived in the region for more than 11,000 years.”

A Vast Photographic Archive

National Geographic says that it has a vast photographic archive of Yellowstone, including William Henry Jackson‘s photos from the 1871 geological survey of the park which were captured a year before its official founding as a national preserve. National Geographic first published a story on the park in May of 1908.

Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Photos
William Henry Jackson, shot for US Geologicial Survey, first photograph of Old Faithful, 1872 | Photograph by William Henry Jackson 

The storied publication has shared several photos of the region that have been captured over the lifespan of the park, a few of which it granted PetaPixel permission to share. These and many others can be found on National Geographic’s full coverage of the park’s 150th anniversary on its website.

Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Photos
Elk in chest deep snow in view of cross country skiers. Yellowstone | Photograph by F. J. Haynes
Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Photos
Bisons are herded to a trap for tagging and testing for disease in Yellowstone National Park  | Photograph by William Albert Allard 
Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Photos
Aerial of mist rising from Alum Creek in Hayden Valley.  | Photograph by Norbert Rosing 

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Image credits: Header photo is an aerial view of Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, photographed by Michael Nichols. All other photos individually credited and provided courtesy of National Geographic.