New Heathens
17Jul/11Off

Stopping to Smell

Yellowstone wildflowers are incredible this year.


Call me a sap but these bluebells overlook the junction of the Firehole River (right) and Gibbon River (left), the headwaters of the Madison River in Yellowstone. In September 1870 members of the Langford-Washburn-Doane expedition, at the end of a government-sponsored program to explore the mysterious Yellowstone region, camped in the foreground and at sunset discussed all the wonders they had seen. Several men in the party talked about staking ownership of spots in the park, like Old Faithful, and of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. They talked about how rich they would get  building resorts and charging tourists admission. And then, according to legend, a man named Cornelius Hedges piped up and said that, "there ought to be no private ownership of any portion of that region, but the whole ought to be set apart as a great National Park, and that each one of us ought to make an effort to have this accomplished." Thus, the story goes, the idea to make National Parks was born. Yellowstone became the first in 1872. Today there are more than 7,000 National Parks around the world. It all started right here! (Allegedly.)

Off into the deep woods for four days. We'll see how poetic I wax about National Parks when I think there's a griz outside my tent.

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