The Next 100 Years: What the Future Holds for Wyoming’s Scenic Past

A tip of the hat to Stephen T. Mather. Without his foresight, the natural beauty that draws us to Wyoming might well be a lot less natural. And nowhere near as beautiful.

Mather was the creator and first director of the National Park Service, which came into being on August 25, 1916. This summer NPS begins its second century of conserving America’s most outstanding scenery, history, and wildlife for the enjoyment of future generations. Including the abundance of natural treasures found in Wyoming: Yellowstone. Grand Tetons. Devils Tower. Bighorn Canyon. Fort Laramie. Fossil Butte. The list is long.

You never forget your first encounter with Wyoming. Just ask Dr. Charles Preston, Senior Curator of Natural Science at the Draper Natural History Museum, who came to Yellowstone in 1972.

“I was 19 years old, and it was absolutely a life-changing experience,” he says. “The vast landscapes, the wildlife. I vowed then that I was going to come back here and find some way to work and live in this area.”

Awe-inspiring. Life-changing. Wyoming’s national parks are that and more to those fortunate enough to see them. And the people who work in and around the parks aim to keep them that way through the next century and beyond.

“I hope that the Yellowstone we experience today is the very same Yellowstone people will experience a hundred years from now,” Ruth Quinn, a Xanterra Parks & Resorts tour guide, says. “To me, that’s the goal of what the National Park Service does in Yellowstone.”

Quinn’s husband Lesley, an Interpretive Specialist for Xanterra, is confident that the mission of the National Parks Service will remain sacrosanct.

“The National Parks Service will still encourage people to come to wild places like Yellowstone,” he says, “and at the same time ensure that they’ll be here for future generations.”

Archaeologist Julie Francis echoes that confidence: “One hundred years from now Wyoming’s national parks will still be magnificent, awe-inspiring, thought-provoking, spiritually important, and very powerful places.”

They will also welcome an increasingly diverse group of visitors.

“Our country is changing,” National Park Service Eastern Wyoming Group Superintendent John Keck says. “We need to reflect that. We want everybody to come out and enjoy the parks. Not only this year, but for the next 100 years.”

Don’t miss the party of the century. Plan your Wyoming National Park Service centennial celebration at

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