It's been called "stunning", "breathtaking", "glorious", "one of the world's greatest wonders", and "the most beautiful place on earth".  Of course, we're talking about Yellowstone National Park which just happens to have a birthday, today.

Now, before someone says "Ummm, Yellowstone is waaay older than 150 years", I know, I know.  However, today we are celebrating 150 years of a very important signing.

Photo by Jéan Béller on Unsplash
Photo by Jéan Béller on Unsplash
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On this date, back in 1872, President Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act. With the President's signature, that guaranteed that Yellowstone would be kept from private development, and thank heaven he did.

Yellowstone is not only the crown jewel in our National Park system, it is also the oldest National park in America. For years, it's been a must-see destination for folks from not only here in the United States, but from all over the world and the park seems to increase in popularity every year. In fact, 2021 saw over 4.8 million people visit Yellowstone National park, which is almost 30 percent more than the year before and it is the busiest year on record.

Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
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For those that don't know, Yellowstone National Park is big, how big? Well, Yellowstone is 2.2 million acres and is actually bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Yellowstone National Park covers three states, while the vast majority of the park is Wyoming, our friends in Idaho can claim a little bit as can we here in Montana.

Another fun fact, Yellowstone National Park sits on top of the biggest Super Volcano in North America, which results in the numerous hot springs and geysers throughout the Park.

Photo by Jeromey Balderrama on Unsplash
Photo by Jeromey Balderrama on Unsplash
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Speaking of geysers, the most popular attraction at Yellowstone is Old Faithful.  Although according to History.com, Old Faithful isn't as faithful as it once was. The iconic geyser was known to go off every hour, on the hour "but after decades of earthquakes—including one in 1959 that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale—has since altered its network of underground fissures and caused it to slow down. These days, the gusher often takes breaks as long as 90 minutes between eruptions."

Photo by Jeromey Balderrama on Unsplash
Photo by Jeromey Balderrama on Unsplash
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So whether you've never been to the Park, or you've been a hundred times, let's take a moment and wish Yellowstone National Park a very Happy Birthday today.  Happy 150 years as a National Park, and here's to hundreds of thousands more.

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.