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About Yellowstone National Park


General Yellowstone Information

America’s First National Park

EST. 1872

How did Yellowstone get its name?

It’s named after the Yellowstone River, the major river running through it. The river gets its name from the Minnetaree Indians, who called it Mi tse a-da-zi, or Yellow Rock River, most likely due to the yellowish formations of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The name was passed on to French trappers, who called it Roche Jaune, later rendered by American trappers as Yellow Stone.

How big is Yellowstone National Park?

Well, it’s larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It covers 3,472 square miles, which includes over 1,000 miles of trails, 52 picnic areas, 900 historic buildings and about 290 waterfalls.

Is Yellowstone the largest national park?

No. More than half of Alaska’s national park units are larger, including Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, which is the largest unit (13 million acres) in the National Park System.

What is the highest peak in the park?

At 11,358 feet, Eagle Peak in the southeastern part of Yellowstone is the highest.

Is Yellowstone the most visited national park?

Yellowstone is in the top five national parks for number of recreational visitors.

Is swimming allowed in Yellowstone’s rivers, lakes and geothermal features/hot springs?

Swimming is not recommended in most lakes and streams because they can be dangerously cold. Firehole Canyon, near Madison Junction, has a swimming area popular in summer. Soaking in thermal features is illegal. However, the Boiling River—north of Mammoth Hot Springs—where a large hot spring enters the Gardner River, allows the hot and cool waters to mix into a temperature comfortable enough to soak in.

How many geysers are in the park?

Yellowstone has more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, 500 of which are are geysers (300 active ones). That’s over half of all the world’s geysers.

When does Old Faithful erupt?

Basic prediction of Old Faithful is dependent upon the duration of the previous eruption. The average eruption is every 92 minutes. During visitor center hours, geyser statistics and predictions are maintained by the naturalist staff. 

Just how hot is the water in Old Faithful?

During an eruption, the water temperature at the vent has been measured at 204°F (95.6°C). The steam temperature has been measured above 350°F.

Speaking of eruptions, what’s this business about a supervolcano?

The Yellowstone Caldera is a volcanic caldera and a dormant supervolcano located within the park. A “supereruption” from the Yellowstone Supervolcano is not predicted to happen anytime remotely soon.

And while we’re talking about volcanos, what’s the deal with earthquakes in the park?

Yellowstone experiences 1,000 to 2,000 minor earthquakes every year. But fear not…the chances of feeling one are pretty slim. 

Is there a lot of wildlife in the park?

Yes. Yellowstone National Park is home to 67 species of mammals, 285 species of birds, 16 species of fish, six species of reptiles, five species of amphibians and more than seven aquatic nuisance species.

Will I see a lot of wildlife in the park?

That depends on where you are, how long you’re here, what season it is and what kind of mood the wildlife is in. 

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Yellowstone National Park