A history of presidential visits to Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
From Chester Arthur to Barack Obama, American presidents have come to the peace and quiet and grandeur of Yellowstone, a refreshing change from the political heat and conflict of Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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1883 -- Eleven years after Yellowstone was created and just seven years after the nearby Battle of the Little Bighorn between the U.S. Cavalry and three native American tribes, Chester Arthur rides on horseback through Yellowstone and cuts the tape to open a new rail line that will transport eastern tourists to park headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs.
1903 -- President Theodore Roosevelt arrives in the gateway town of Gardiner to lay the cornerstone for the Roosevelt Arch, today a Yellowstone icon. He was accompanied on a two-week visit by the eminent naturalist John Burroughs, who wrote about the adventures they had in his book “Camping And Tramping With Roosevelt,” published in 1907.
1923 -- Warren Harding visits Yellowstone just one month before he died. During his outing, the president fed bears, a practice that today is outlawed.
1927 -- Calvin Coolidge arrives with his fishing gear to angle for trout as a respite, enlisting Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright as his guide. Even though Albright tried to engage Coolidge in talking politics, the president refrained, earning the nickname “Cool Cal.”
1937 -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor embark on a motor tour of the park, and he later delivers one of his fireside chats after inspecting the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
1976 -- Gerald R. Ford, who had been a park ranger in Yellowstone in 1936, returns to his former stomping grounds and delivers a speech timed so that it would coincide with Old Faithful Geyser erupting in the background.
1978 -- Jimmy Carter takes his family to Yellowstone on vacation and enlists legendary fly fisherman Bud Lilly to serve as his angling guide. The Carters visit a remote island in Yellowstone Lake. Carter has made several return visits, and during one of them he sat down for pizza with park employees at the Lake Hotel, signing the wall that still bears his autograph today.
1989 -- Newly elected George Herbert Walker Bush arrives with his close friend U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming. They inspect the effects of the huge 1988 Yellowstone wild fires, which burned for months and scorched some 1.2 million acres across the ecosystem.
1995 and 1996 -- Bill Clinton and his family, who are spending part of the summer in nearby Jackson Hole, tour the Upper Geyser Basin and helicopter to the site of a proposed mine on the edge of the park that is considered a threat to the environment. Based upon the president’s first-hand experience, the Clinton administration halts the mine project.
Information provided by Yellowstone historian Lee Whittlesey