DENVER, August 11, 2009 – When President Obama and his family visit
Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks this coming weekend, they will
be following in the footsteps of several other U.S. presidents. The previous
presidential park visits were frequently for official business, but often,
they were also for fun.
Park historians from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and the National Park
Service shared the following anecdotes about the visits of previous U.S.
Instead of staying in one of Yellowstone’s lodges, President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt chose to stay at the private home of Harry Child, the owner of
the Yellowstone Park Company, which operated the park lodges and other
concessions. His reason: he did not want the general public to see him
in his wheelchair. Designed by Robert C. Reamer, the same architect who
designed the Old Faithful Inn, the large home is a single-floor prairie-style
structure, so it can easily accommodate a wheelchair. Recently passing
its centennial, the home is occupied today by the general manager of Xanterra
Parks & Resorts, operator of the lodges and other concessions in the
Bill Clinton visited both the Grand Canyon (in 2000) and Yellowstone (in
1995). President Clinton stayed in the Mary Colter Suite of the Grand Canyon’s
El Tovar and had lunch at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn. President Clinton
and the First Lady also took a stroll around Old Faithful Geyser.
President Gerald Ford was already familiar with Yellowstone National Park
when he visited in 1976; he had been a 23-year-old National Park Service
ranger in 1936. Ford once said his time in Yellowstone was “one of the
greatest summers of my life.” One of his duties was to meet and greet VIPs
at the Canyon Lodge. He also protected other park rangers who fed bears
at the bear-feeding truck, a popular visitor attraction at the time. The
park long ago stopped feeding bears and other wildlife.
In 1883, President Chester Arthur rode a horse from the southern to the
northern entrance of the park and met supporters at the Mammoth Hot Springs
Hotel before departing the area aboard the newly completed Northern Pacific
Railroad. Although it wasn’t quite completed and still lacked a complete
roof, President Arthur dined at the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room before
President Theodore Roosevelt made his final visit to Yellowstone National
Park in 1903. Although he was on a two-week vacation, he managed to squeeze
in some business too. Roosevelt, Harry Child and Robert C. Reamer reviewed
plans for the Old Faithful Inn, which was completed the following year.
During that trip he also laid the cornerstone for the Roosevelt Arch at
the northern entrance to the park. The arch bears the inscription: “For
the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” President Roosevelt also
visited the Grand Canyon – in 1903, before it was a national park and again
President George Herbert Walker Bush visited both the Grand Canyon and
Yellowstone. His visit to Yellowstone in 1989 was the summer after the
historic Yellowstone fires. He was briefed by park officials about Yellowstone
During his visit, President Jimmy Carter traveled to one of the islands
on Yellowstone Lake to fish with National Park Service officials. After
his presidency, Carter returned to the park and had pizza in the employee
pub at Lake Hotel. He even signed the wall of the pub, and his signature
is still visible today.
President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923, shortly before he died.
Staff in the park named a geyser after him and observed a moment of silence
in his honor.
Calvin Coolidge visited Yellowstone in 1927. Although Yellowstone Superintendent
Horace Albright tried to engage President Coolidge in park-related politics,
Coolidge was more interested in fishing than talking.
In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill that designated Yellowstone
the world’s first national park. It was a move that has been called America’s
best idea. President Grant never visited Yellowstone.
Howard Taft visited the Grand Canyon in 1911.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates the lodges, restaurants, gift
shops, tours and activities in Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon as well
in several other national parks.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts® (consisting of several affiliated
Xanterra entities) operates lodges, restaurants and other concessions at
national parks and state parks and resorts. Xanterra Parks & Resorts
is the country's largest park concessioner. Xanterra Parks & Resorts
operates concessions in the following locations: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone,
Bryce Canyon, Zion, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Rocky Mountain and Petrified
Forest National Parks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Silverado Resort
in Napa, California, and eight Ohio State Parks. Xanterra Parks & Resorts
also operates the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts has been committed to the preservation
and protection of the environment for many years. Through its environmental
program, “Ecologix,” Xanterra Parks & Resorts has been recognized repeatedly
for environmental leadership in the hospitality industry and is the recipient
of many honors, including major awards from the U.S. Department of the
Interior, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Travel
Industry Association of America, American Hotel and Lodging Association,
National Parks Conservation Association, Conde Nast Traveler, National
Geographic Traveler, Colorado Department of Public Health, State of Arizona,
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Utah Department of Environmental
For more information about Xanterra Parks & Resorts, links to individual
properties and reservations numbers, visit www.xanterra.com.