The first national park in the United States was Yellowstone in Wyoming, and for good reason. Yellowstone encompasses uncommon land features like geysers, hot springs, and canyons all in one place. Explorers reported back to the U.S. federal government and wanted Yellowstone to be protected from private development in a similar way to how Yosemite Valley in California had received protections, though as a state park. President Ulysses S. Grant (above) signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act in 1872 to establish Yellowstone as the first national park. However, there were no laws to prevent people from hunting wildlife or harming the land’s natural features. Therefore, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act to help create a parks management system, which became the National Park Service.

Grant set his sights on Alaskan wildlife during his presidency as well, urging that federal land in the territory to be set aside for seal habitat. National Geographic credits this as a first for wildlife protections. Aside from Wilson, multiple presidents after Grant took interest in national parks and land protection.