The park is named for the grand Yellowstone River. French voyageurs named the river for its yellow rocks. The park was created after many long tedious efforts by F.V. Hayden to make full expeditions of the area. The United States government supported Hayden's attempt to map and photograph the region. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant, in honor of Hayden, signed The Act of Dedication, which formally created the Yellowstone National Park.
Since its foundation, over 1,000 archaeological sites have been discovered. Yellowstone also has 1,106 historic sites and five National Historic Landmarks. It is a part of the International Biosphere Reserve and is a United Nations World Heritage Site. The park contains the Yellowstone Caldera, which is the biggest volcanic system in the United States and Canada. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is the second largest undeveloped wilderness in the United States, behind only Alaska,, and the largest ecosystem in the northern temperate zone. It contains a reported 1,700 species of flora, 60 species of mammals, six species of reptiles, four species of amphibians and over 300 species of birds.
Yellowstone National Park is mostly located in Wyoming. Only 3 percent of the park is in Montana and 1 percent in Idaho. It has a total of 2,219,789 acres, which is larger than both Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It is 7,733 feet above sea level and contains rivers that drain into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The park is set next to the Rocky Mountains, the Gallatin Mountains, the Beartooth Mountains, the Absaroka Mountains, the Teton Mountains and the Madison Mountains. Nearby cities include Jackson, Wyoming, and Gardiner, Montana.
Two million tourists visit Yellowstone National Park every year to see and explore all of the majestic qualities of the region. Visitors can take snow coach tours and go horseback riding. Other available adventures include camping, hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, boating and swimming. Yellowstone prohibits all hunting and many fishing sites have catch and release policies.
When visiting Yellowstone National Park, prepare for surprises. Snow, heavy rains and tornadoes can hit anytime of year. Winter temperatures can dip to below freezing. Forest fires are common in Yellowstone, as lightning sparks about 35 forest fires every year. Additionally, many of the indigenous animals, insects and plants can harm humans.