Welcome to the world's first national park - Yellowstone! The golden rocks, effervescent waters, teeming forests, meadows and streams of Yellowstone have been dually christened by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve and a World Herit-age Site. This is North America's Serengeti, where 1,700 kinds of plants sustain 60 mammal and 311 bird species. Here, 150 lakes and 500 streams give birth to mighty rivers and thrive with 24 species of fish. The generally placid flow of these watercourses is spectacularly interrupted by nearly 300 waterfalls.
Like inverted waterfalls, Yellowstone's 300 geysers erupt skyward, flying in the face of the old adage, and arguing instead, that what goes down must also come up! Less flashy, but equally intriguing, are the geysers' cousins: hot springs, fumaroles, mud pots and travertine terraces. These geothermal features are variations on the physics of boiling water, are ten thousand in number, comprise half of the planet's total population of geothermal features, and yet are concentrated in the 2.2 million acre square in the upper left corner of Wyoming's map simply labeled: Yellowstone.
Here, tourism became a science. Here, the U.S. Army defeated extinction by protecting the last of the American bison. Here, big government and big business united to preserve something greater than the revenue it generated. Here, preservation became an ethic.
Yellowstone is the example touted to help justify the establishment and protection of 3,600 other national parks in 143 different countries. It's an adventurer's dream, meticulously planned. It's the first and last word of the favorite vacation story. It's where many first fall in love: with the outdoors, with geology, with wildlife, with history, and with photography. It's also where you can fall in love with all those same things, for all the same reasons, plus many more. It's the "every-park" for everyone.
Welcome to Yellowstone!