Celebrating 150 Years of Yellowstone, the First National Park in the U.S.

Apr 8, 2022 | Best Campgrounds, News

Celebrating 150 Years of Yellowstone, the First National Park in the U.S.

By Sara Sheehy

Yellowstone National Park is an icon of the American West. Located in one of the most distinctive ecosystems on the planet, Yellowstone’s bubbling hot springs, shooting geysers, mountainous landscape, and diverse wildlife have captivated the hearts and minds of visitors since it was set aside as the first national park in 1872.

People walking on a wooden trail to see Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake at Yellowstone National Park. | Photo by: Sara Sheehy

Long before it was designated as a national park, Yellowstone was a home, hunting ground, and gathering place for dozens of Native American tribes. This sometimes-forgotten history, which stretches more than 10,000 years, will sit center stage during this year’s 150th-anniversary celebrations.

Throughout the summer, the National Park Service, partners, tribal nations, and neighboring communities are coming together to celebrate the past, acknowledge challenging and hopeful moments in the park’s history, and plan for the future.

The nonprofit partner of the park, Yellowstone Forever, is offering an Inheritance Pass as part of its fundraising efforts to ensure the park’s preservation for future generations. The pass costs $1,500 and becomes active in 150 years, in 2172. Additionally, purchasers will receive a valid annual pass for the next year.

If a trip to Yellowstone National Park is part of your itinerary this year, here are a few ways you can join in on the celebrations.

Yellowstone 150th Anniversary Events

Tribal Heritage Center at Old Faithful

Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone Forever welcome visitors to the Tribal Heritage Center at Old Faithful from May to September. The Tribal Heritage Center is a place for formal and informal learning opportunities with Native American artists, scholars, and presenters.

150th Anniversary Event at Old Faithful

National Park concessionaire Xanterra is holding an anniversary event on May 6 at 11 a.m. in the Old Faithful Inn Lobby. The event will feature remarks from National Park Service and Xanterra representatives, refreshments, and free Yellow Bus tours of the Old Faithful Historic District.

People standing around Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. | Photo by: Sara Sheehy

University of Wyoming’s 150th Anniversary of Yellowstone Symposium

Join in person or online for the University of Wyoming’s 150th Anniversary of Yellowstone Symposium from May 19 to 20. This free 2-day event will bring together scholars, scientists, and National Park Service representatives to discuss Yellowstone’s past and future. Registration is required.

Wind River Inter-Tribal Gathering

Tribal nationals, federal managers, and non-profit organizations will come together at the Wind River Inter-Tribal Gathering from June 1 to 3 to discuss conservation and collaborate on issues that are important to the tribes. The public is welcome; registration is required.

Nez Perce Appaloosa Horse Club Ride & Parade

See the history and culture of the Nez Perce Tribe during this 5-day event from July 27 to 31 in Canyon Village. Over the course of the week, members of the tribe will ride a section of the Nez Perce Trail, lead a horse parade in traditional regalia, and host fireside chats for visitors.

Related Celebrate 150 years of Yellowstone with a historic stagecoach tour

Top-Rated Camping Near Yellowstone National Park

While traveling to Yellowstone National Park for the 150th anniversary, be sure to check out these top-rated campgrounds. 

RVs parked in a wooded area of a campground near Yellowstone National Park
Madison Campground at Yellowstone National Park. | Photo: Campendium

Madison Campground, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

If you can get by without cell phone service, make a reservation at the spacious and comfortable Madison Campground. This 278-site campground is big rig friendly and clean, but most importantly, its location inside Yellowstone National Park puts you right at the heart of the action.

River running through Bakers Hole Campground near Yellowstone National Park
Bakers Hole Campground in West Yellowstone, Montana. | Photo by: Van-Tramp

Bakers Hole Campground, West Yellowstone, Montana

Bakers Hole, located right outside the park’s West Yellowstone entrance, is a forested campground that offers partial hookup sites along the Madison River. The Campendium community loves this campground for its affordable nightly rate, great location, and first-come, first-served sites.

Open field with a stream at a boondocking campground in Wyoming
Grassy Lake Road in Moran, Wyoming. | Photo by: Wandering Pulse

Grassy Lake Road, Moran, Wyoming

If you prefer boondocking to campgrounds, check out the gorgeous views at Grassy Lake Road, just off the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Located on the Snake River, these free campsites allow a maximum stay of 14 days and have an on-site vault toilet and trash cans.

Large fifth wheel RV parked in a wooded area near Yellowstone National Park
Bootjack Dispersed Camping at Island Park, Idaho. | Photo by: Derek & Kristen

Bootjack Dispersed Camping, Island Park, Idaho

Those seeking peace and quiet near Yellowstone may want to cross into Idaho to stay at the Bootjack Dispersed Camping area. These grassy, big rig friendly campsites are located close to world-famous fly fishing on the Henrys Fork River and only 20 minutes from the park entrance at West Yellowstone.

To learn more about the history of Yellowstone National Park and to see a complete list of events for 2022, check out the National Park Service’s 150 Years of Yellowstone.