America’s oldest national park – Yellowstone – turned 150 this year.
The park's 2.2 million acres that span Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were designated the country’s first national park by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. It was not just the first national park in the U.S., but also the first such designation in the world.
"Yellowstone is an amazing place," Rich Jehle, a ranger at Yellowstone, told FOX Weather multimedia journalist Robert Ray. "It is a unique landscape. There’s nothing else like it in the world."
The park is home to 67 different species of mammals – the largest concentration of mammals in the Lower 48. It’s also the only place in the U.S. where wild bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. It is estimated that about 5,000 bison now call the park home.
Yellowstone is also where half of the world’s active geysers are located.
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Rivers that flow out of the Yellowstone region help provide water to about 60 million Americans across the West. Their flow is highly dependent on snowfall, but average annual snowfall has decreased by 23 inches since the 1950s, according to a report published last year.
The legislation that was signed by Grant 150 years ago said the national park was meant to preserve the land for the "benefit and enjoyment of the people." Jehle said that sentiment is what makes Yellowstone so special.
"What Yellowstone is really about – not just the landscape, the wilderness, the wildlife, the geysers – it’s about more of an idea – the national park idea, which is the idea that there are some places that are so unique and so special that we need to set them aside and preserve them for future generations."
Nearly 5 million people enjoyed Yellowstone in 2021, setting a visitation record for the park.