Geographers might blanch at the thought, but Yellowstone National Park officials have pushed the 45th Parallel a bit north in an effort to make park visitors safer.
In truth, though, and as the accompanying picture illustrates. the relocation of the sign depicting the 45th Parallel as it passes through the park actually brings it closer to the actual latitudinal line.
If you haven't taken one of Dr. Bob Janiskee's geography courses, the 45th parallel is an imaginary line that circles the globe at the point halfway between the equator and the North Pole. This same line passes through Minneapolis-St. Paul; Ottawa, Canada; Venice, Italy; and the northern tip of the Japanese islands. In most of Yellowstone, it is slightly north of the Montana-Wyoming border.
For years, Yellowstone visitors have stopped on the road near the Boiling River parking area between Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs to have their picture taken with the landmark sign. The spot was so popular in the summer that vehicle and pedestrian congestion in the area became a safety issue. It prompted managers to look for an alternate location for the popular “photo op.”
Using GPS technology and keeping safety in mind, the sign has been moved nearly a mile north to a small parking area that will provide not only a much safer, but, as it turns out, also a more geographically accurate location. While placement on the exact site where the 45th crosses the road was not an option, it is now within approximately 1,200 feet of the correct position.
P.S. -- Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the Montana/Wyoming state line does not follow the 45th parallel through the park. The “Entering Montana” and “Entering Wyoming” signs will stay in their current locations near the Boiling River parking area.