Yellowstone: The World’s First National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is not only the first national park in the United States, but also widely regarded as the oldest in the world. The park is located primarily in the northwest corner of Wyoming but also extends into Montana and Idaho. With over 2.2 million acres, Yellowstone is the second largest U.S. National Park outside of Alaska and boasts arguably the most impressive array of wildlife.
Unrivaled Hydrothermal Features
Yellowstone sits atop a supervolcano and was initially created to protect the abundant hydrothermal features that lie within its boundaries. It is home to the world’s greatest concentration of geysers and the Grand Prismatic Spring, which gets its color gradient from thermophilic bacteria that flourish towards the water’s edge. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains at 8,000 feet above sea level, Yellowstone is a biodiversity hotspot.
Iconic Wildlife of Yellowstone
Yellowstone is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including elk, herds of bison, pronghorn, amphibians such as the western tiger salamander, and birds such as the great horned owl.
Grand Teton: Majestic Peaks and Rugged Beauty
Situated to the south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929 to protect the Teton Range and several lakes that sit at the foot of the mountains. The Tetons is a smaller range within the Rockies, whose highest peak, Grand Teton, rises to almost 14,000 feet.
A Unique Geological History
Although the Teton Range is one of the youngest in North America, having only been uplifting for a mere 10 million years, the rock from which it is formed is some of the oldest in North America, dating back 2.7 billion years. A mixture of metamorphic gneiss and granite produce the spectacular dark grey peaks for which this range is famous.
Wildlife in Grand Teton
The wildlife in Grand Teton is equally stunning, with both grizzly and black bears roaming the forests alongside moose, whose range extends not much further south. There are also over 10,000 species of insects in this region, such as the swallowtail butterfly, which play an important role in pollination.
Other Notable U.S. National Parks
The United States has a total of 63 national parks, each with its own unique beauty and ecological importance. Some others worth mentioning are:
– Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
– Zion National Park, Utah
– Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
– Saguaro National Park, Arizona
– Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
– Badlands National Park, South Dakota
– Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
– Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
– Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
– Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
– Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
– Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
– Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
From the awe-inspiring landscapes of Yellowstone to the rugged beauty of Grand Teton, the United States boasts an incredible array of national parks that showcase the diverse ecosystems and geological formations found across the country. These parks not only provide habitats for numerous species of wildlife but also serve as vital resources for research, conservation, and recreation.