Yellowstone National Park is arguably the largest and best wildlife preserves in the continental United States, and one of the finest in the Americas. Known primarily for its amazing geological features, Yellowstone is equally known for its fauna, which is represented by almost every major mammal species native to the U.S. and Canada. It is particularly beloved as home to the largest surviving herd of free-roaming bison remaining in North America.
During the 19th century, the American frontier moved steadily westward, with settlers doing immense damage to the ecosystems as native animals, most notably buffalo, were pushed to the brink of extinction. It was not until well after the American Civil War that the government finally decided to act, establishing protected areas in places which were still relatively safe. Yellowstone was established as America’s first national park in 1872. It has since become one of the most important incubators for the preservation and reconstitution of animal species that were once nearly wiped out.
Yellowstone is one of the most fantastic national parks anywhere, with numerous ecosystems ranging from the American prairie to the Rocky Mountains. Many large animals roam the park, including major predators like the grizzly bear, gray wolf, mountain lion and lynx. There are numerous deer species, moose and bighorn sheep. The star attraction is the herd of over three thousand buffalo, sadly diminished in recent years due to weather and disease.
Yellowstone National Park is just shy of 9,000 square km, making it one of the largest parks in North America. Despite its size, Yellowstone is located in one of the most remote parts of the United States. The closest major city is Bozeman in Montana, approximately 75 miles to the north. The park is open year-round, though some areas are seasonal. The cost of admission is $25 per vehicle. Web: www.nps.gov/yell (official website).