These 26 Photos Show Why Yellowstone is America's Most Beautiful National Park

This Tuesday, March 1st, marks the 150th anniversary of one of the U.S.'s most iconic and cherished landmarks: Yellowstone National Park.

The park is a national treasure and a beloved tourist destination, welcoming a staggering 4.9 million visitors in 2021, and is well known for its wildlife and stunning scenery.

The area was declared a national park on March 1, 1872, by president Ulysses S. Grant, making it the first national park in the U.S., meaning the national government has protected and preserved the area and the flora and fauna within it ever since. In 1978, shortly after its 100th anniversary, Yellowstone National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Yellowstone is spread over more than 2.2 million acres across the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. While not the biggest national park in the country- Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is a whopping 13 million acres- Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined

Over the course of these 150 years, the park has witnessed many changes, most notably in the makeup of its animal residents.

The bison that roam the park have made a remarkable recovery. Prospects for the large animal were bleak as they were all but hunted to extinction and by 1916 there were only 23 bison left in Yellowstone. Following extensive conservation efforts there are now around 5,000 of them living in the park.

Grizzly bears have seen their population in the park rise over the years. In the 1970s, there were only 136 wild grizzly bears in the park, yet by 2019 their population had increased more than five-fold, and 728 grizzlies called the park home.

Wolves have also seen a comeback. The species were deliberately exterminated by rangers throughout the 1920s, and were reintroduced in Yellowstone in the 1990s in order to help the species rebound from extinction.

The reintroduction of wolves to the park cost an estimated $30 million, which has been promptly made back as wolf ecotourism makes roughly $35 million annually.

This regeneration of regional wildlife and large mammals has led Yellowstone National Park to house the highest concentration of mammals in all the lower 48 states.

However, it is not just mammals that call the park their home, as Yellowstone also houses 134 different species of butterflies, 16 species of fish, five species of amphibians and six of reptiles.

The park is, quite literally, teeming with life as the very ground itself is constantly bubbling, pulsating and erupting due to the its geological nature.

Half of the world's active geysers can be found at Yellowstone, which includes over 10,000 mudpots and over 500 geysers, with the Old Faithful geyser erupting approximately 17 times daily.

These 26 photos show why Yellowstone is America's most beautiful national park.

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