About 90% of the forest on Obsidian Cliff plateau burned in 1988. The fire did not damage the cliff face, but it cleared the surface, creating optimal conditions for archeological surveys. Those surveys added substantially to knowledge about how obsidian was mined from the bedrock and collected as cobbles from the overlying glacial till. Staff are now researching the intensity of use of this obsidian, both within the park and across North America.
The kiosk at Obsidian Cliff, constructed in 1931, was the first wayside exhibit in a US national park. It was listed on the National Register in 1982. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996.
The Earliest Humans in Yellowstone
Human occupation of this area seems to follow environmental changes of the last 15,000 years.
Archeological resources are the primary and often only source about humans in Yellowstone.
Last updated: April 4, 2022