Yellowstone Lake Archaeology

Sunset on a large lake with rock outcropping covered in trees
The earliest intact cultural deposits in the park have been found at a site on the shore of Yellowstone Lake.

NPS / Jim Peaco


The earliest intact archeological deposits in the park have been found at a site on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. The site was excavated because it was at risk of erosion, and revealed evidence of a 9,350-year-old camp where several families appear to have spent time. People probably used this area in the summer while hunting bear, deer, bighorn, and rabbits, and perhaps making tools and clothes. Artifacts dating to 3,000 years ago have also been discovered on islands in the lake, leading some archeologists to speculate that indigenous peoples used watercraft to travel there.

Underwater view of the lake floor, showing sand and gravel.
Yellowstone Lake Geology

Discover a bit of what dynamic processes are going on below the lake's surface.

Three uniformed people working around excavated dirt. Two stand by wooden boxes; one uses a shovel.

Archeological resources are the primary and often only source about humans in Yellowstone.

Brown and gray columns of rock make up a cliff that towers up to a deep blue sky.
The Earliest Humans in Yellowstone

Human occupation of this area seems to follow environmental changes of the last 15,000 years.

A historical photo of a group of people walking across a geyser runoff channel.
Preserving Cultural Resources

Learn how Yellowstone National Park works to preserve and interpret the human history of the region.

Last updated: November 15, 2019

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PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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