3 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Yellowstone

*Best of the Hub. This post was originally posted last spring on the SocialHub. If you missed it, it is worth a read to learn more about Yellowstone.*

We're a little gonzo for national parks here at Sierra Trading Post. Our corporate office in Cheyenne, Wyo. is brimming with outdoor nuts, and our Cody outlet store is just 50 miles from one of the most iconic national parks in the country. What makes Yellowstone such a treasure? For one thing, it's the nation's first national park, established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Nowhere else can you see so many geysers, colorful hot springs, bubbling mud pots and fumaroles in one location, so it makes sense that Yellowstone has captured the imaginations of outdoor lovers for more than 100 years.

Do you consider yourself a Yellowstone expert? Let's find out! If you already knew all three of these interesting facts, then you definitely know more about Yellowstone than the average Joe.


#1: An Ancient and Sacred Place
Long before explorers like John Colter like Jim Bridger first discovered the captivating geological landscapes of Yellowstone, aboriginal Americans had been hunting and fishing in the area for thousands of years. According to Yellowstone historian Lee H. Whittlesey, there was a common misconception among whites that native people were afraid of the area's geothermal features. This was later disputed by historians who discovered that native tribes most likely considered the area sacred. Some natives even kept the area secret from early white settlers and trappers. Whittlesey explains that the Crow Indians called Yellowstone "land of vapors," while the Blackfeet called it "many smoke." Also, the Crows specifically referred to Yellowstone geysers as "BideMahpe," which means "sacred or powerful water." For more info about the native history of Yellowstone, check out Yellowstone: America's Sacred Wilderness.

Yellowstone Fossil Forest

#2: Fossil Forests
Yellowstone is famous for its geysers and bubbling hot springs, but did you know it also has one of the most extensive petrified forests in the world? That's right. According to F. H. Knowlton of the U.S. Geological Survey, the northeastern section of Yellowstone is loaded with some pretty fantastic fossilized forests. Many of the petrified trees are still standing upright, like the one in the photo above. If you ever visit the park and have extra time, be sure to check out this fascinating geological feature.

Yellowstone Wolves

#3 Wolves
Did you know that in 1994, there wasn't a single wolf left in Yellowstone? According to the National Park Service, after wolves were reintroduced into the park in 1995 and 1996, they began to make a comeback. At the end of 2011, there were at least 98 wolves in 10 different packs occupying Yellowstone National Park. The wolf population is closely monitored, and approximately 17% off the wolves in Yellowstone are tracked with special collars. You can read more about the wolves and their reintegration at www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/wolves.htm.

Know any other obscure facts about Yellowstone? Leave a comment and share them!

Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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