With National Park Week running from Monday through Friday, April 22 to 26, the White House blog took note of the annual tradition by reposting a video from President Barack Obama’s 2009 family vacation to Yellowstone National Park.
According to the White House, Obama first visited Yellowstone “on a summer-long cross country trip he took as a young boy with his mother, grandmother and sister,” all of whom also joined him on the 2009 trip.
The video features some archival footage of Presidents Ford, Clinton, Carter, Roosevelt (both of them) and other chief executives in the park, plus background from Yellowstone historian Lee Whittlesey, filmmaker Ken Burns and others.
It’s no secret that Theodore Roosevelt was an avid outdoorsman and enthusiastic big game hunter, as well as a proponent of parks. But in a great excerpt unearthed by author and historian M. Mark Miller, Roosevelt conveys a passion for hunting that few holding high office can match. He describes catching a whiff of an elk while on the hunt in 1891. (Roosevelt even offers an account of the animal’s differing aroma while in rut.)
The tale is from Roosevelt’s book, “The Wilderness Hunter: An Account Of The Big Game Of The United States And Its Chase With Horse, Hound and Rifle.” T.R. tells the story of hunting an elk on Two Ocean Pass, just south of Yellowstone in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. He writes:
“In a moment I saw him walking through an open glade; he had not seen us. The slight breeze brought us down his scent. Elk have a strong characteristic smell; it is usually sweet, like that of a herd of Alderney cows; but in old bulls, while rutting, it is rank, pungent, and lasting.”
For the rest of the tale, visit Miller’s wonderful blog, where you’ll also find other great tales of Yellowstone’s early days.
Ford worked during the summer of 1936 as a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone, calling the experience “one of the greatest summers of my life.” Among his duties during that summer, Ford was an armed guard on the bear-feeding truck, a practice no longer observed in Yellowstone.