Yellowstone National Park is widely held to be the first national park in the world, it was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 and spans an area of 3,468 square miles.
The Yellowstone Caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America and has been termed a “supervolcano” because the caldera was formed by exceptionally large explosive eruptions. The magma chamber that lies under Yellowstone is estimated to be a single connected chamber, about 37 miles (60 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide, and 3 to 7 miles (5 to 12 km) deep. The current caldera was created by a cataclysmic eruption that occurred 640,000 years ago, which released more than 240 cubic miles of ash, rock and pyroclastic material. This eruption was more than 1,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Wow! Yellowstone is by far the most amazing place I’ve been on my travels so far. The park contains half the geothermal features and two-thirds of the world’s geysers and having wandered around some of them, catching an eruption of Old Faithful Geyser – which erupts about once every 1.5hrs – I start to head towards West Yellowstone, MT, where I’m staying at the Stage Coach Inn ($374, 2nghts). On the road towards the west entrance I’m met with the sight of a huge bison heading towards the road, it’s the first I’ve seen and is the size of a small car, quickly pulling over I get out to take some pics as it just continues walking from grass to tarmac then to grass again, paying no attention to the people around who have stopped in awe of it. I won’t lie, this sight brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know the habits of bison, whether they are normally in herds or whatever, but as it wandered over the other side of the road and into the trees I couldn’t help feeling a sadness, that perhaps this was an old bull that used to have his own herd of cows and is now left to wander alone.
Continuing to head towards the west entrance there are many stops made as the sights that are hitting me are just spectacular, it’s like an environmental/geological paradise!