35 Fun Facts About Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beloved American family vacation spots. Let’s enjoy some fun facts about Yellowstone National Park and learn more about this amazing place.

1. Yellowstone was established on March 1, 1872, making it not just the first national park in the United States, but the world’s first national park.

2. Yellowstone is home to more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, including hot springs and more than half of the world’s geysers. The most famous geyser, Old Faithful, erupts at regular intervals in the park’s Upper Geyser Basin.

Tall geyser erupts in the middle of a sandy and grassy area. There are pine trees in the background.
Old Faithful eruptions are predicted by Yellowstone staff. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

3. The Upper Geyser Basin is the world’s largest concentration of geysers.

4. Park rangers predict eruption times for six geysers in Yellowstone. Five of those are in the Upper Geyser Basin: Old Faithful, Castle, Grand, Daisy, and Riverside. The sixth, Great Fountain, is in the lower Geyser Basin.

5. Steamboat Geyser, in Yellowstone’s Norris Geyser Basin, is the tallest active geyser in the world. Its eruptions can reach more than 300 feet. 

6. In addition to being a national park. Yellowstone is also a United Nations-designated biosphere reserve and world heritage site “in recognition of the worldwide significance of its natural and cultural resources.”

7. The name was taken from the Yellowstone River which runs through the park.

TIP: Keep track of all the amazing sites you’re seeing in the park with this printable Yellowstone National Park bucket list.

Or turn your explorations into a game with the printable Yellowstone Scavenger Hunt.

On a quest to visit all 63 U.S. National Parks? Grab your own copy of the printable national parks tracker to check off your progress as you visit each park.

River flows around a curve. There are pine trees along both sides of the rocky river banks.
The Yellowstone River heading toward the Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

8. The park spans nearly 3,500 square miles, mostly (96%) in Wyoming, with parts extending into Montana and Idaho.

9. Yellowstone was the largest national park in the contiguous United States until 1994 when it was de-throned by the new Death Valley National Park.

10. More than 4.5 million people visited Yellowstone National Park in 2023.

11. 2021 was the busiest year on record for Yellowstone, with 4,860,537 visits.

12. July and August are the months with the most visits to Yellowstone National Park. Those two months typically account for well over 30% of total annual visits to the park.

13. Yellowstone sits atop one of the most active volcano systems in the world known as the Yellowstone Caldera.

14. Yellowstone has a Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is up to 1,000 feet deep and is famous for its colorful rock walls and waterfalls.

15. Yellowstone is home to many animals including “the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states,” according to the National Park Service. Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are popular wildlife viewing pots in Yellowstone.

Rolling grassy area with patches of snow in the foreground.
Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

16. Yellowstone is known for its herds of bison, which is the largest land mammal in North America. The males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

17. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-elevation lake (above 7,000 feet) in North America. It sits at 7,733 feet above sea level and its surface area is 131 square miles. Yellowstone Lake also features a unique lakeshore geyser basin known as the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

18. Parts of Yellowstone National Park are on the Continental Divide, meaning water in the park flows into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, at least in theory.

19. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “The Yellowstone region is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States. It experiences an average of around 1,500 to 2,500 located earthquakes per year! The majority of these earthquakes are too small to be felt by humans but are detected by a sophisticated network of about 50 seismometers called the Yellowstone Seismic Network (YSN).” 

20. Wildfires in Yellowstone in 1988 affected 36% of the park (793,880 acres).

21. The brightly colored Grand Prismatic Spring is the third-largest hot spring in the world. It’s more than 300 feet wide. 

22. The bright colors of Yellowstone’s hot springs are caused by the presence of thermophiles which thrive in the extremely hot and even acidic waters of the springs.

Large pool in a shape similar to a Morning Glory flower. The outer portion of the pool is a vibrant golden yellow and the inner portion is green.
Yellowstone’s Morning Glory Pool. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

23. The famous stone arch at the park’s North Entrance was erected in the early 20th century. At one time this was the only entrance to the park.

24. Yellowstone has five entrances: West, South, East, Northeast, and North. Only the North and Northeast entrances are open year-round.

25. Eagle Peak is the highest point in Yellowstone National Park at 11,358 feet.

26. 80% of Yellowstone is covered by forest.

27. Obsidian Cliff is a National Historic Landmark. The kiosk that marks the spot was the first roadside exhibit in a United States National Park.

28. The National Park Service employs a staff of 750 during the summer season. An additional 3,200 people work for park concessioners during the summer peak.

29. There are 9 hotels and lodges within the park plus 12 campgrounds.

30. Old Faithful Inn was completed in 1904 and is a National Historic Landmark

31. There are 452 miles of road in Yellowstone National Park, about 310 miles of which are paved.

32. The Yellowstone National Park budget for fiscal year 2022 was $132.2 million.

33. Yellowstone features more than 900 miles of hiking trails.

34. The Black Growler Steam Vent in Norris Geyser Basin roars constantly and can reach temperatures of up to 280 degrees F.

35. Yellowstone also has geysers underwater at Yellowstone Lake. The story goes that people would fish for cutthroat trout nearby and then cook it on the line in Fishing Cone.

A small river winding through a grassy area with trees and a steaming geyser cone in the background.
Firehole River flows through the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

I hope you enjoyed these Yellowstone fun facts.

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