National Geographic : 1912 Jun
VOL. XXIII, No. 6 WASHINGTON JUNE, 1912 THE LIZIIEZOI B AIPHIDLI MAG AlNB OUR NATIONAL PARKS BY L. F. SCHMECKEBIER IN ELEVEN western States tracts of public land varying in extent from several hundred to over two million acres have been withdrawn from settle ment and private exploitation and dedi cated by act of Congress as national parks for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Within these great reserves may be found scenery and natural phenomena that are unequaled in their majesty and grandeur. In some of them the traveler may se lect his method of transportation; he may proceed by coach, on horseback, or on foot; he may stop at the hotels or camps, or he may make his own camp in the solitude of the forest or in the midst of meadows gorgeous with the products of nature's garden. In other parks the absence of roads compels him to travel on horseback and accompanied by a pack train-and after all this is the best way to enjoy thor oughly the beauties of the mountain and the forest. In all of the parks one is free to come and go as he will, subject only to regulations that look to the pro tection of the forest and the wild ani mals. THE YELLOWSTONE The oldest and largest of the parks is the Yellowstone, created by the act of Congress approved March I, 1872. It has an area of 2,142,720 acres, mostly in Wyoming, but with narrow strips on the north and west in Montana and Idaho. The best-known features of Yel lowstone Park are the geysers, the Mam moth Hot Springs, and the Great Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. The geysers are located in three ba sins-the Norris Geyser Basin near the headwaters of Gibbon River, and the Upper and Lower Geyser basins along Firehole River. Even when the geysers are not in eruption the basins present scenes of weird and singular beauty. Clouds of steam rise from countless vents; the gaunt trunks of trees, killed by the hot water and bleached to dazzling whiteness, stand specter - like around the edges of the basins; here and there emerald pools or a beautifully col ored deposit is seen in sharp contrast to the white sinter which forms the floor. Of the 84 geysers in the park no two are alike in their characteristics. The Constant Geyser, in the Norris Basin, sends forth graceful jets of water to a height of about 20 feet at intervals of one minute, while the Giant Geyser, in the Upper Geyser Basin, is in eruption at intervals of from five to seven days. It is Old Faithful, however, which is most regular in its operations. In the 40 years that this geyser has been known to the white man it has never failed to eject its graceful column of water at in tervals of 65 minutes.