Yellowstone National Park has been a top attraction since 1872, when it was officially opened to the public. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled through what is now the park, and reported volcano activity in their logs. From the early 1800s to the time the area became Yellowstone, fur trappers were abundant in the area. The beautiful beaver pelts made more than a few men a good deal of money.
As mentioned, Yellowstone National Park covers 2.2 million acres, or 3,400 square miles. To put this into perspective, the park is bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. There are over 1,100 miles of hiking and bicycle trails in the park. It measures 63 miles across from north to south and another 54 miles east to west. It also contains the largest super-volcano on the entire continent.
Besides being a wonderful tourist attraction and home to a plethora of activities--from camping and hiking to llama riding and guided tours--Yellowstone National Park is also an official wildlife preserve, and was America's very first national park. It is also a designated Biosphere Reserve Site. Its rich history, combined with its lakes, rivers, streams and mountains, makes it a very valuable ecosystem for experts to study and learn from. Three hundred and eleven species of birds are known to dwell there, as well as two kinds of bears and 18 species of fish.
Located two hours from Jackson, Wyoming and almost three hours from Billings, Montana, this vast park is situated primarily in Wyoming, but portions of it are in Montana and Idaho. The highest point in the park is Eagle Peak, which towers 11,358 feet into the air. Eighty percent of the park is forest land, which provides scientists an excellent platform to study nature and wildlife. There are about 2,000 earthquakes each year at Yellowstone National Park, and it contains over 300 geysers. There are around 290 waterfalls, the tallest one reaching 308 feet. Yellowstone is also home to one of the world's largest petrified forests.
The park contains the largest intact ecosystem in Earth's entire northern temperate zone. The Yellowstone Caldera, which is considered to be an active volcano, and miles of volcanic rock and ancient lava flow make this a highly desirable place for experts to study the Earth. Yellowstone is a haven for ecologists, biologists and botanists, among the many others who are constantly gathering information from the diverse terrain of the park.