National Park Service. Yellowstone National Park

Hausarbeit, 2014

21 Seiten


Table of Contents

1. Preface

2. National Park
2.1 Definition National Park
2.2 History
2.3 National Park Service

3. Yellowstone National Park
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Geography & Geology
3.3 Volcanism
3.4 Fauna
3.5 Flora

4. Closing Remarks

5. Bibliography

6. Table of Enclosures

1. Preface

According to the National Park Service, there are 59 national parks in the United States (Enclosure 1).[1] No one is like another, each has distinctive features. But what is a national park, really? Therefore, the term "National Park“ gets clarified right in the first section. In the next section, the history of the North American National Parks is treated, the part of the continent in which the national park idea has its origin. To preserve the beauty of nature, however, it is imperative that you deal meaningfully with her. Therefore, the next part is all about the National Park Service, which has set itself the goal of preserving and protecting the national parks. The second part is dedicated to the Yellowstone National Park, as the very first national park in the world. For the understanding of this unique area, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of the areas of geography and geology, volcanism, fauna and flora. The topic of tourism is not precisely explained, because in essence, the national parks are intended to serve as nature reserves and not as tourist attractions.

2. National Park

2.1 Definition National Park

According to IUCN following, internationally applicable, criteria’s define a national park: A national park is a large-scale natural area of outstanding natural features and with ecosystems that are not changed by human use. Nature should be largely able to develop undisturbed and be kept in original as natural as possible state. The area should be excluded from economic exploitation, but be open for everyone for enjoyment and recreation. Plants, animals and agricultural features are of exceptional interest for science, education and recreation. Visitor numbers are strictly controlled. The main objective is to protect the biodiversity and ecological structure and the preservation of existing natural beauties in the national parks.[2]

2.2 History

In the middle of the 19th century the idea of national parks was born. The National Park Service Chief of Public Affairs said: "Americansdeveloped a national pride of the natural wonders in this nation and they believed that they rivaled the great castles and cathedrals of Europe." Wallace Stegner, an American historian, writer and environmentalist called it "the best idea we ever had", because it made sure that all natural resources belong to everyone, the parks are accessible to all and are secured for future generations.[3] In 1864 the beautiful landscape of Yosemite in California was protected against economic use for the first time. On June 30th, the President Abraham Lincoln made a law for it, so Yosemite became the area of relaxation and pleasure. On March 1st, 1872 the congress established Yellowstone National Park, the first in the world. That was the beginning of a worldwide national park movement. In 1890 Yosemite became a National Park too.

John Muir, a famous writer and naturalist supported the idea of the expansion of more protective areas in California. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir visited Yosemite together. Muir's goal was to integrate the Yosemite Valley becomes into Yosemite National Park. He founded the Sierra Club and was his first president.[4] Today Sierra Club is one of the most important Society for Nature Conservation in the United Nations.[5] Since 1906 the American president was allowed to appoint an area as "National Monument" also without the congress agreement.[6] Roosevelt created five national parks, eighteen national monuments and fifty-one bird sanctuaries.[7] Even latter presidents appointed natural areas, buildings or other historical formations.[8] But until 1916 there was no organization to manage the new national parks and national monuments. So on August 25th,1916 the National Park Service was created when President Woodrow Wilson gave his approval.[9] Until 1919 there were only national park foundations in the western United States. Acadia National Park was the first eastern national park.3 Today there are 58 National Parks in the United States.[10]

2.3 National Park Service

The National Park Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior since 1906. It deals with more than 80 million acres, which are visited by millions of people every year. The service cares for more than 40 national parks in the 50 states.[11] Stephen Mather was their first director. The idea of national parks gained in importance through his political influence. After his death in 1930 the National Park Service established plaques to the commemoration of his achievements with the following inscription: "There will never come an end to the good that he has done." [12]

Today they have about 28,000 employees, of which are approximately 20,000 permanent workers. Also children can participate by doing a Junior Ranger Program. In this way kids learn something about nature and its protection at an early age. A trip to a national park is very funny and a great adventure for them.[13]

3. Yellowstone National Park

3.1 Introduction

With a size of almost 9,000 square kilometers, this park is one of the biggest national parks in the USA and extends over three states. In 1872 it became the world's first National Park. In Summer there are temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius, cool nights and usually storms in the afternoon. A winter day can have temperatures from -20 to -7 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature ever measured there was at -54 degrees Celsius.[14] The park is mainly covered by forest, predominantly conifers. There are nine visitor centers and museums and in 2012 there were over 3.4 million people visiting the park.[15] The stunning beautiful nature and the amazing wildlife are reasons for why you necessarily have to see the park too. The place is huge, so you would need many days to explore all its wonders. Yellowstone National Park is surrounded by mountains. There are also deep canyons, big forests, lakes and rivers. It is home to geysers and hot springs.

3.2 Geography & Geology

The unique structure of this landscape has been influenced by several years of volcanism. In the past 2,1 million years there were three catastrophic eruptions.[16] The most recent volcanic explosion, which took place 600 thousand years ago, formed the enormous Caldera. Caldera describes the collapse of the top of a hot spot. Even today there is an active hot spot under the Yellowstone National Park. This is the reason for the existence of thousands of geothermal springs like geysers, hot springs or mud pots. These bubbling mud pots come into being because of the water shortage as a result of the decreasing volcanic activity.[17] Old Faithful is the most popular geyser and a lasting symbol of the Yellowstone National Park. Everybody who visits the park should watch this famous attraction. His powerful eruptions can be calculated quite exactly.[18] Currently it sends every 60 to 90 minutes masses of boiling water up to 55 meters in the sky.2 Due to the earthquakes of the last years the temporal intervals varies a little bit.

10 miles north of Old Faithful there is the Grand Prismatic Spring located. It is known for being the largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park with a diameter of 110 meters and also the third largest hot spring in the world. The shimmering turquoise-blue water is already impressive but when the water temperature changes there arises a rainbow of oranges, yellows and greens. The algae and archaea cause the coloring due to their different composition depending on the temperature of water.[19]

The Yellowstone National Park can be divides into five regions. In northwest is the Mammoth Country, which includes the famous Mammoth Hot Springs. In northeast you will find the Roosevelt Country, in southeast Lake Country, in southwest Geyser Country and in central Yellowstone Canyon Country.[20]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Mammoth Hot Springs is located at the northern entrance. There you can find the year-round opened Albright Visitor Center, lots of trails, a hotel and a campsite.[21] But those are still not all highlights of the park. There are other attractions like Norris Geyser Basin, Grand Canyon, Lamar and Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake.[22]

Norris is a popular geyser basin and also the hottest and oldest basin in the park. The activities in it change constantly.[23] It includes Steamboat, the highest geyser in the world.[24] In the surroundings there were sometimes seen deer, bison and grizzly bears. Norris is one of the few regions where you can find lizards.[25]

East of Norris is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is much smaller than the Grand Canyon in Arizona and didn't form in the last glacial period, thus it is a very young canyon. But nevertheless it is a fantastic natural wonder. The canyon is a result of years of erosions. Today the Yellowstone River runs through it and causes new erosions. The Lower and Upper Falls are formed by the river and can be seen from several viewpoints. The canyon is 32 kilometers long and up to 370 meters deep. It is known for its yellow to red colorings of the rocks.[26]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

If you want to see wild animals like wolves, bighorn sheep, elk and herds of bison you have to visit Lamar Valley. For this reason it is called America's Serengeti because of its great wildlife, even in the wintertime. In the gray of dawn you can watch coyotes and wolves by their hunting. During the day you can see bighorn sheep, grizzly bears and bison in the wild. But do not forget your binoculars because you can see that shy animals only at a distance.[27] Lamar Valley is the best place to watch wolves because approximately 20 years ago many wolves came back and made the Valley their new home.[28] There are offers for guided tours were you can get information about the animal and plant world. There are lots of opportunities if you want to go fishing too.[29]

Hayden Valley is the heart of the Yellowstone Plateau and is the largest valley in the park. The area was flooded fourteen thousand years ago.[30] Even today you can find there a skinny layer of lake sediments as well as clay. Precisely because the water cannot completely trickle into the soil it is a swampy valley today. Hayden Valley is the place with the most animals in the park. There you can see animals like in Lamar too but also waterfowl, like geese, ducks or pelicans.[31]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

More wonderful masses of water you will find at Yellowstone Lake. With an area of 352 square kilometers it is North America's largest lake in this impressive altitude with about 2134 meters above sea level.[32] It is the headwater of Yellowstone River, who flows through the Fishing Bridge and ends into Missouri River. More than 100 years ago the bridge was built. Fishing Bridge became famous so that in 1934 it got a new construction. The curious thing is that since 1973 it is strictly forbidden to go fishing at Fishing Bridge. But there is an easy reason behind it. Because the bottom of the Yellowstone River is an important spawning ground for the native cutthroat trout. Caused by overfishing the trout were critically endangered. Consequently fishing from the bridge was banned in 1973. Today it is an admired place for observations.[33]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Now some geographic facts: The Park lies almost completely in Wyoming, only three percent is located in Montana and one percent in Idaho. It includes some headquarters of great rivers of the United States for example parts of the Missouri and Snake River.

The longest free-flowing river with a length of over thousand kilometers is the Yellowstone River. But only five percent of the countryside consists of water. Forests occupy the greatest extent with 80 percent.[34]

The highest mountain with approximately 3,462 meters is Eagle Peak. It is part of the Rocky Mountains and constitutes the largest part of Yellowstone.[35] The lowest point is at Reese Creek.[36]


[1], 07.02.14

[2] gpap_pacategories/, 28.03.13

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[16] Andrew Dean Nystrom: Top Trails Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, zweite Auflage, Kanada, 2009

[17], 25.02.14

[18], 25.02.14

[19] National Geographic Deutschland: USA - Nationalparks, siebente Auflage, Hamburg, 2013

[20] Andrew Dean Nystrom: Top Trails Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, zweite Auflage, Kanada, 2009

[21] Andrew Dean Nystrom: Top Trails Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, zweite Auflage, Kanada, 2009

[22], 26.02.14

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[33], 26.02.14

[34] Andrew Dean Nystrom: Top Trails Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, zweite Auflage, Kanada, 2009

[35], 25.02.14

[36] Andrew Dean Nystrom: Top Trails Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, zweite Auflage, Kanada,

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National Park Service. Yellowstone National Park
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Sarah Abraham (Autor:in), 2014, National Park Service. Yellowstone National Park, München, GRIN Verlag,


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