Yellowstone Reopens a Key Gateway After Devastating June Flooding
On June 1st, Yellowstone National Park reopened its gateway to the West after flooding caused a four-day suspension of the park’s normal operations. In the days that followed, the gateway was slowly reopened, and park officials made steady progress on repairs.
Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, a state that can only be said to resemble New England in many ways. The region is ringed by mountains with rolling plains and the Great Divide—the Rockies in the northeast and the Cascades in the southwest.
Geologic evidence suggests that the park has been settled at least 10,000 years ago. Before European settlement, the region was covered by dense forests.
From the top of the park’s highest point, Mount Washburn, the region is a vast grassland, dotted with stands of lodgepole pine trees and bordered on the west by the Cascades—a dramatic mountain range that runs westward from Canada. A third range—the Tetons—rises on the northern flank.
All of these mountains were once ice-covered and covered with snow. Today, the landscape is punctuated with small glaciers, but even these are receding.
Much of the Cascades is designated national scenic area in the name of Mount Massive. This mountain was formed when the volcano in the Cascades erupted billions of years ago. During these deep eruptions, massive and explosive rocks were ejected into the sky. In the last stage of these eruptions the mountain is said to have been the most powerful volcano on Earth. Today the largest volcano in the western hemisphere is Mt. St. Helens, in northern Washington state.
The West is bordered to the east by the Rocky Mountains. Two important rivers—the Missouri and the Platte—flow into the Missouri. From the east, the U.S. and Canada border on the Great Plains. The Missouri River flows northward from the Rockies, and on the way it passes through the states of Missouri and Iowa; the Mississippi River flows from Canada.
Geologists are still searching for the origin of the Great Plains, and they know that this land was formed in two stages. First, the North American continent was pulled apart and fragmented to form a number of plates (the Appalachians to the west and the Cordillera