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Yellowstone National Park Visitor Centers


National park visitor centers are a wonderful place to learn more about the flora, fauna, geology, and history of the amazing landscape that you're currently exploring. Like Yellowstone National Park itself, Yellowstone's visitor centers vary by region. Many focus on a specific topic, like geology, history, or wildfire. These exhibits, artifacts, and films will enrich your park experience, providing context for what you'll see and experience as you explore Yellowstone's thermal features, landmarks, vistas, and buildings.

All of these visitor centers are worth checking out, but I particularly recommend that Albright Visitor Center, Canyon Visitor Education Center, and Old Faithful Visitor Education Center be included as part of your Yellowstone National Park visit.

Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs

Albright Visitor Center (Angela M. Brown)
Albright Visitor Center

The Albright Visitor Center, open year-round, is located in a lovely stone structure that once served as Fort Yellowstone quarters. Inside you'll find a range of exhibits covering the park's human history. Traditional Native American life among Yellowstone's unique landscape and early European exploration are the focus of several exhibits. The 1871 Hayden Survey expedition included the photographer William Henry Jackson and the artist Thomas Moran; many prints of these historic photos and watercolors are on display. Fort Yellowstone, the park's 1886-to-1918 management by the army, and the early National Park Service is also a feature topic. Several official park films can be seen at the Albright Visitor Center. Other visitor services available in the building include a Yellowstone Association gift store and a backcountry information office.

After visiting the Albright Visitor Center, be sure to spend some time on a walking tour of the lovely and fascinating Fort Yellowstone complex.

Canyon Visitor Education Center

Canyon Visitor Education Center in Yellowstone National Park (Angela M. Brown)
Canyon Visitor Education Center
The Yellowstone super volcano is truly one of the geologic wonders of the world and is the focus at Canyon Visitor Education Center. Excellent hands-on exhibits and films make learning fun. A huge and colorful relief map allows you to look at Yellowstone National Park's geologic features from a number of angles as lights and narration reveal Yellowstone's volcanic past and present. Another fascinating touchscreen exhibit shows the recent seismic activity not just in Yellowstone National Park but around the world. Interpretive panels explain the inner workings of the park's thermal features, including hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and geysers. Be sure not to miss the recently-produced film Yellowstone: Land to Life at the Canyon Visitor Education Center's theater. This facility is only open during the warmer months of the year, late May through mid October.

Old Faithful Visitor Education Center

The new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center opened to the public in 2010. Not surprisingly, geysers, hot springs, and the other thermal features found within Yellowstone National Park are the focus of this visitor center. The fascinating and unexpected ecology of the hot springs is featured in one set of exhibits, the power and timing of geyser eruptions is addressed in another.

The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center also houses a Yellowstone Association store, a large theater, and the office of the district naturalist.

Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center

Located in a National Historic Landmark stone-and-log structure, the Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center displays birds and some animals found in Yellowstone. A large Yellowstone Association bookstore is also located in the building.

Grant Village Visitor Center

Situated near the West Thumb Geyser area on the shores of Lake Yellowstone, the Grant Village Visitor Center has exhibits and a fascinating film covering the major wildfires of 1988 and their impact on the park's environment. As a result of this major fire, scientists gained a new appreciation for the necessary role that fire plays in an ecosystem. The film Ten Years after Fire is in the center's theater. The Grant Village Visitor Center and its Yellowstone Association store are only open during the warmer months of the year.

Norris Geyser Basin Museum

Open late May through September, this small museum focuses on the thermal features found in Norris Geyser Basin. The exhibits were updated in 1995.

Museum of the National Park Ranger

The Museum of the National Park Ranger addresses the history and development of this unique profession. Housed in a log structure that was once a soldier station, the museum offers exhibits and a film that focuses on these protectors and interpreters of America's national parks. The Museum of the National Park Ranger is located a short distance from the Norris Geyser Basin Museum.

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