Yellowstone National Park Visit      July - August 2003


What can describe this wonder?  It has been almost thirty years since our first visit here, and we were once again awed by the thermals, the river, lake and mountains. Historically speaking, artifacts show prehistoric hunters were here 11,000 years ago and humans have lived here for most of the 8,500 years since the last Ice Age.  A small group of Shoshone made it their home year-round, but many others traveled through the region.  The earliest written history of the park is attributed to William Clark about 200 years ago, and John Colter spent the winter of 1807-1808 in the park after which his accounts of it were called mad hallucinations.  Imagine someone speaking of bubbling mud pots, hot water rolling off cascades and various pools shooting steam and streams of hot water into the sky.  Certainly they were mad.

The trapper, Jim Bridger, told outlandish stories of the park, and mountain men bragged, “A fellow can catch a fish in an icy river, pull it into a boiling pool and cook his fish without ever taking it off the hook.”  Post Civil War adventurers Folsom, Cook and Peterson took off their hats and “yelled with all our might” when they saw Old Faithful erupt, but they only confided this to their closest friends for fear of being laughed at.  Finally, in 1871 the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Ferdinand Hayden, took a party to explore the region in June 1871.  He was wise enough to include a landscape painter and a photographer in his group, so finally their artwork and a 500 page report convinced Congress this place was not a hoax.  Yellowstone became the first national park (in the world) in 1872.  The rest, as we say, is history.