The Declaration of Independence. Jazz. Baseball. All are widely celebrated American creations. But what about the National Park Idea? Did you know that the United States was the first country to protect spectacular scenery and wilderness-for the enjoyment of the ordinary people? This inspiring land ethic has now gone viral, you might say, with nearly 7,000 national parks in existence worldwide. The first of these national parks-Yellowstone, an over two-million-acre wilderness situated mostly in northwestern Wyoming-is best known for its predictable gusher Old Faithful and vast herds of snorting bison. But this premier parkland, you may not have known, was nearly lost to greed and exploitation.
As a nature enthusiast and former park ranger, I was eager to tell the story of our first national park-especially as 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The narrative, drawn mostly from primary sources such as diaries and journals, recounts the thrilling adventures of the first scientific expedition across the mysterious Yellowstone region. Through these explorers' vivid words and the glowing images of guest artists who accompanied them, we experience the heart-pounding drama and beauty of wild Yellowstone, just as it was in 1871. The explorers' journey is continuously marked by the extremes of fear and exhilaration, but in the end, the men's sense of awe and wonder triumphs, and they're compelled to help save Yellowstone from the incoming tide of fortune hunters who are otherwise bent on exploiting Yellowstone and its inexplicable wonders.