Yellowstone Visitor Centers

Albright Visitor Center & Museum

Photo by: akasped

The Albright Visitor Center and Museum (open 365 days a year) is located at Mammoth Hot Springs, five miles inside the North Entrance and at the northwest corner of the upper loop of the Grand Loop Road. The visitor center and all the red-roofed, many-chimneyed houses down the street from it were built by the U.S. Cavalry during a time when this was "Fort Yellowstone," an Army post dedicated to protecting the national park. Although the soldiers left after the Park Service was created in 1916, outwardly the old fort has changed little from the time of Army residency. Fort Yellowstone, comprised mostly of this block and the two rows of buildings behind it, is one of the best remaining examples of a 1900-era cavalry post.

The visitor center (formerly bachelor officers' quarters) now houses a museum with its major theme being history: Native Americans (pre-1800), the mountain men (1807-1840), early exploration (1869-1871), the Army days, and early National Park Service. In early 1998, new exhibits with a predator-prey theme were installed upstairs.

Of special note are the Moran Gallery where fine reproductions of watercolor sketches by the painter and expeditioner Thomas Moran are displayed and the Jackson Gallery where original photographs by William Henry Jackson, also of the 1871 Hayden Survey, are exhibited.

There is a theater in the visitor center where Park Rangers show film and video presentations every half hour in summer and on request in winter. Films include The Challenge of Yellowstone (1979, 25 min) on the history of Yellowstone and the evolution of the national park idea and Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran (1997, 12 min) on Moran's contribution toward the establishment of Yellowstone National Park and are shown year-round.

Norris Geyser Basin Museum

The Norris Geyser Basin Museum is located 1/4 mile east of Norris Junction just off the Grand Loop Road. Built in 1929-30, it is National Historic Landmark. Its distinctive stone-and-log architecture became a prototype for park buildings throughout the country known as "parkitecture" (Fishing Bridge Museum and Madison Museum date from the same time period and are of the same style). New exhibits on geothermal geology, Norris Geyser Basin features, and life in thermal areas were installed in 1995. These exhibits replaced old ones from the 1960s with similar subject matter. There is no auditorium in this building, and it consists of two wings separated by an open-air breezeway. An information desk in the breezeway is staffed by National Park Service interpreters. An adjacent old restroom facility of matching architectural style houses a Yellowstone Association bookstore.

Museum of the National Park Ranger

The Museum of the National Park Ranger is housed in the Norris Soldier Station, located at the entrance to Norris Campground. This building was one of the original soldier stations, built in 1908, as an outlying station for soldiers on patrol. The building has been completely rebuilt, using original materials where possible and staying true to the original floorplan. The original building was taken down on site and rebuilt. Exhibits depict the development of the park ranger profession from its roots in the military traditions through early rangers and to the present array of NPS staff specialized duties. A small auditorium shows a laser-disc production of the 25-minute movie, "An American Legacy," which tells the story of the development of the National Park Service. There is no Yellowstone Association sales outlet in this museum. The staffing is done primarily by retired National Park Service employees who volunteer for short periods of time. Many of these employees retired as superintendents, chief rangers, regional directors, and from various positions in the Washington office

Madison Museum

The Madison Museum dates from 1929-30 and is a National Historic Landmark. Located at Madison Junction in the Madison Picnic Area, it is built from wood and stone materials. The building sits near the site of the legendary campfire circle of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition. Although no evidence can confirm the authenticity of this tale, the legend gives us a strong theme for discussion of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. In previous years, this building has been used as a museum, has housed the Arts Yellowstone program, and has sat empty and abandoned. It began its new life as an information station and Yellowstone Association bookstore during the summer of 1995. The museum contains only touch-table exhibits at present, but plans are underway to design and install orientation panels. A wayside exhibit just outside the museum building commemorates the "campfire story," and a commemorative plaque honors Stephen T. Mather.

Old Faithful Visitor Center

New Old Faithful Visitor Center nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;Photo by: akasped

Located only 200 yards from Old Faithful Geyser, the Visitor Center is situated between the Old Faithful Inn and the Old Faithful Lodge with a wonderful view of one of the most recognizable features of Yellowstone. A 100-seat auditorium provides the setting for daily showings of Yellowstone Revealed, a 14-minute film that reveals newly discovered life forms and the associated benefits to society through new breathtaking footage of the park. Evening ranger-led programs are presented here during the summer and the winter seasons. The Yellowstone Association sales outlet here provides the largest selection of their merchandise in the park.

Grant Village Visitor Center

The Grant Visitor Center is located on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake one mile off of the main park road at Grant Village Junction. The visitor center and development are named for President Ulysses S. Grant, eighteenth president of the United States, who signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The facility was constructed during the 1970s and, along with the entire Grant development, was and is a controversial Yellowstone development due to its location in prime grizzly bear habitat (the area is the location of several major cutthroat trout spawning streams).

Fishing Bridge Museum & Visitor Center

The Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center is located one mile off the Grand Loop Road on the East Entrance Road. Built in 1931, it is a National Historic Landmark. Its distinctive stone-and-log architecture, known as "parkitecture," became a prototype for park buildings all around the country. The historic bird specimens (by Carl Russell) were installed in 1931, provide a good overview of the birds of Yellowstone. Other taxidermied animals include a grizzly sow and two cubs (formerly from the Canyon Visitor Center) and a family of river otters. Because there is no auditorium in this building and because there is no film, video, or slide show on the resources specific to the Lake District, we do not show any audio-visual programs in the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Museum. The East Wing of the building houses a large Yellowstone Association book sales outlet.

Canyon Visitor Center

The Canyon Visitor Center is located 1/8 mile southeast of Canyon Junction in the Canyon Village complex. The building was completed and open for public use in late summer 1957 as part of the Mission 66 project in Yellowstone. Its architecture and design are typical of other visitor centers of that era. The Canyon Visitor Center has traditionally been the location of exhibits explaining the geology of Yellowstone, but there has been no permanent exhibit here since the summer of 1990. The Fire Exhibit, now at Grant Visitor Center, was displayed here in 1991. During the 1992 and 1993 seasons, a geology exhibit designed and produced by students from Shelley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming; and Helena, Montana, was displayed. "Imagine Yellowstone," the children's art exhibit, was here in 1994 and 1995, with a retrospective exhibit in 1996. In August 1997, a new exhibit on bison was installed. This exhibit is the result of a cooperative effort between Yellowstone National Park and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The exhibit deals with the natural history of bison and the bison as a symbol of wildness; it also includes information on the current controversy surrounding brucellosis. Planning for a permanent geology exhibit is underway. Audio visual programs are currently not available at the Canyon Visitor Center. The Yellowstone Association has a large book sales outlet in the lobby.