YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.
above the ocean. It is twenty-five miles in length,
embosomed mid mountains, gemmed with green islands, unique in form, and
surrounded on all sides by hot springs of great variety, number and beauty.
Jets of steam may be seen issuing from the hot springs, from the islands,
even from the bosom of the lake itself. Some of the loftiest and most inaccessible
mountain-ranges on the continent lift their snow-clad summits in the immediate
vicinity. The scenery is colossal and full of savage grandeur.
Following the river from the
foot of the lake for the distance of nine miles, the visitor reaches the
locality of Sulphur Mountain, the Mud Geyser, the Mud Volcano, and the
Blowing Cavern, all objects of separate interest, and presenting novelties
of rare and curious character.
Ten miles farther down the
river are the two great cataracts, and the Grand Cañon, of the Yellowstone,
perhaps the most stupendous elements of scenery in the park. The upper
fall is 115 feet in height; the lower, which plunges directly into the
cañon, is 350 feet, and the cañon itself, varying from one
to three thousand feet in depth, is forty miles in length, and for the
whole distance presents to the eye the most wonderful chasm in the world.
Jets of hot vapor issue from its sides, and color them with the most brilliant
colors of nature. From its profound depths stars are visible in the day-time.
Lieutenant Doane, who, in 1870, succeeded in reaching the bottom of the
cañon, at a point where the walls are nearly 3,000 feet in height,
in his official report (Senate Executive Document, No. 51, Forty-first
Congress, third session) says: "It was about 3 o'clock p.m., and stars
could be distinctly seen, so much of the sun-light was cut off from entering
About eighteen miles farther,
and at a point of one mile divergence from the cañon, the beautiful
fall of Tower Creek, with its grotesque surroundings, meets the eye; and
twenty-five miles below this point, the most wonderful hot springs of Gardiner's
River, with all their variety of beauty and novelty, assert their claims
to be considered the most remarkable of the curiosities of the park.
Thus, in a circuit of perhaps
ninety miles, the greatest attractions of the park may be seen, and, at
the close of the tour, the visitor is within seventy-five miles, over a
good road, of Fort Ellis, and the beautiful town of Bozeman, in Montana
It is impossible, in this
report, to convey the faintest idea of the grandeur of the mountain and
river scenery everywhere present on this ride. We venture to say that there
is not in the world, within the same limit, so many wonderful freaks of
physical geography, much to amaze and delight the beholder.
The trip thus finished through
the park, the traveler, at any time before the middle of August, may fitly
complete it by proceeding from Bozeman to Helena, through the beautiful
valleys of the Gallatin and the Upper Missouri, thence by coach through
a highly picturesque country one hundred and forty miles to Fort Benton,
where, in a fine river-steamer, he may complete the trip by a sail of six
or seven days, of two thousand miles down the Missouri, to Omaha, or to
the junction of the Northern Pacific Railroad, whence he may reach the
sea-board by rail.
I regard the explorations
of this region as but just commenced. New wonders are continually presenting
themselves. Jets of steam as yet unvisited are seen in all directions while
passing through the park, many of which indicate the location of very extensive
groups of hot springs. Columns of vapor, apparently 500 feet in height,
seen by Lieutenant Doane and myself on my first visit in 1870, while on
one of our mountain expeditions, have not as yet been visited. Mr. Stevenson
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