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flickr/Eric Vaughn

America's First National Park Imagine trekking through the Rockies and coming upon a high mountain plateau where steam rose from jewel-colored pools, mud bubbled in thick pots and geysers roared 300 feet high out of the earth. The Crow Native American tribe named this place “land of the burning ground.” The Blackfeet called it “many smoke.” Western explorers described fantastical scenes of “fire and brimstone.” Folks back home didn't believe the tall tales until artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson brought back proof in 1871—and America's first national park was born.

flickr/Eric Vaughn
Covering 2.2 million acres in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone is a dazzling mountain retreat, even without its 10,000 geologic wonders. Hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive each year to hike, fish and camp in the backcountry, and even more make the pilgrimage to see Old Faithful. One of the most remarkable wildlife sanctuaries in North America, Yellowstone promises an unforgettable glimpse of bison, moose, elk, bald eagles, gray wolves, black bears and grizzlies.

flickr/Yellowstone National Park
Its combination of natural beauty and geothermal features—the highest concentration on earth—makes Yellowstone a once-in-a-lifetime destination. As 19th-century expeditioner Walter Trumbull predicted, “Probably no portion of America will be more popular as a watering place or summer resort than that which we had the pleasure of viewing, in all the glory and grandeur of its primeval solitude.”

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