GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Books accompanying travelers to the Park since 2002

Ten Great Tips for Enjoying Your Yellowstone Vacation

Ten Great Tips for Enjoying Your Yellowstone Vacation

My Wonderfully Helpful Ten Tips for an Outstanding Vacation in Yellowstone Park are available to you free if you send us your e-mail address. Besides the tips you will receive our *very* occasional newsletters. We will not disclose your address to any third parties.

Just enter your e-mail address at the right for this Yellowstone Treasures bonus!

Janet

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What it’s like when plowing Yellowstone’s roads

I’m a big fan of Brett French’s writings in the Billings Gazette. Today I want to share his simile of what the snow-plowing crew experiences each spring while clearing the roads.

“About 7 miles north of West Thumb along the shore [lies] still-frozen Yellowstone Lake. That’s about an hour’s drive south from the plow crew’s headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo. Although the sun is shining intensely, the entire landscape at this elevation of about 7,700 feet is still buried under several feet of sound-stifling snow, like a huge cotton ball stuffed inside Yellowstone’s volcanic caldera ear [italics mine]. And even though today is warm and sunny, the crew has frequently suffered through days with temperatures bottoming out at 20-below zero or colder, or had storms or wind blow snow back on top of just-cleared pavement.”

The whole article is at “Yellowstone plow crews labor to open park for spring visitors.”

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Linx Yellowstone bus service canceled for summer 2014

According to a recent article in the Bozeman (MT) Chronicle: “The wheels on a bus service that shuttled Yellowstone National Park visitors into the park from gateway communities won’t be going around this year.” I’m sorry to hear this, since it was the only public transportation system that has been tried in many years, if not ever in Yellowstone.

For three summers LINX was supported with help from local agencies. Even so—as we learned when my daughter needed the service between West Yellowstone and Old Faithful—it was not inexpensive. But total revenues did not cover operating costs, proving that only with government (National Park Service) support could such a system survive.

I came up with a suggested plan for free or very inexpensive shuttle service for the west side of the park three years ago and even sent it to Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. Later I had a chance to speak with him about it, but, not surprisingly, he cannot consider such a thing in today’s economy. Here’s my plan.

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Fresh snow at Old Faithful

snowfall Old Faithful

Finally! A real snow cover at Old Faithful Village.

Yesterday was the last day of March, and at last we have a lot of snow on the ground at Old Faithful Village. From a screen shot I took yesterday morning, you can see that the snow now comes to the top of the post holding the Old Faithful Geyser sign. With no wind at all the trees were gorgeous, and seeing this takes me back to magical winter visits to the park.

You can see this for yourself at: www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

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Lake trout in Yellowstone Lake now less menacing to native wildlife

lake trout cutthroat trout

Trout comparison (NPS Photo)

Back in 1994 someone must have purposely and illegally stocked Yellowstone Lake with lake trout. Before it could be proven that these non-native fish had spread throughout the lake, they began adversely affecting the much smaller native cutthroat trout.

Many Yellowstone animals depend on the native fish as an important part of their diet but cannot catch the big lake trout. For example, grizzly bears and pelicans eat cutthroat from the lake, particularly in early summer.

Now, with major help from sources such as the Yellowstone Foundation and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Board, more and more lake trout are being removed every year— up to 300,000 in 2013 alone. At the same time many more juvenile cutthroat trout are surviving than in the early years of this century.

Three commercial boats and one National Park Service boat regularly net the lake trout with gill and trap nets and also use electroshocking. In addition they use telemetry by tagging some fish to locate lake trout spawning sites, and the movement of those fish toward spawning beds in the fall can now be tracked. A volunteer from Trout Unlimited said recently, “These patterns indicated at least three areas of suspected spawning activity: just off West Thumb Geyser Basin; off Solution Creek; and in the Plover Point, Frank Island triangle. Because these were suspected spawning grounds, arrays of receivers along with reference signals were placed in these three areas in early September in an effort to pinpoint any spawning beds in these areas.”

Meanwhile, anglers again this summer must kill all lake trout and either eat them or puncture the air bladder and dispose of the carcass in deep water. And cutthroat trout must be returned to the water immediately.

See the book excerpt about fish and fishing if you’d like to know more about the subject.

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Yellowstone Park Historian Honored Anew!

Montana State University has recently announced that two honorary doctorate degrees will be awarded on May 3rd in Bozeman. Recipients of honorary doctorate degrees at this year’s commencement will be Donna Shalala, the Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton in nursing, and Lee Whittlesey in history.

Among Lee’s many books about Yellowstone perhaps the most popular are Death in Yellowstone and Yellowstone Place Names (both in their second editions). His complete compendium of research on names, Wonderland Nomenclature, is enormously useful to researchers like me in learning the origins of former and present park names.

Lee, 63, has served YNP for over forty years in many capacities, including tour bus driver, ranger, and park archivist, becoming Yellowstone Park Historian a decade ago. He holds a master’s degree in history from MSU and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. He has already landed one honorary doctorate from Idaho State University.

I am proud to call Lee a personal friend, and his help toward my several Yellowstone projects has been invaluable.

Hats off to Lee!

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What to see and do near Canyon Village

Yellowstone Canyon from Inspiration Point

Canyon colors from Inspiration Point

Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone? Here are some tips about what you can visit when you are in the right middle section of the figure 8 known as the Grand Loop Road. (See the main map to orient yourself.)

  • At the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, marvel at the world’s most spectacular combination of rainbow-colored canyon walls and breathtaking waterfalls.
  • For an unusual and uncrowded view into the Yellowstone River canyon across the river from the busy Tower Fall area, take the Specimen Ridge Trail from the Yellowstone River picnic area. You can see Calcite Springs and sometimes spy osprey or peregrine falcon nests in the canyon.
  • Horses are available at Canyon, Mammoth, and Tower-Roosevelt Junctions, for hire from the park concessionaire.
  • Opened at the end of August 2006, the beautifully upgraded Canyon Visitor Center displays the volcanic source of Yellowstone’s wonders in ways that all can understand. Exhibits about the caldera eruptions, subsequent lava flows, glacial effects, and earthquakes bring you up to date on scientific knowledge about the park’s geology. Don’t miss it when you visit the Canyon area!

There’s more about what to see and do at and in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone Treasures, fourth edition, pages 179-188. Here is the Canyon Area: Village and Falls map from that section of the guidebook.

–Editor and webmaster, Beth Chapple

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Sunset Magazine features Yellowstone and other western parks

The March 2014 Sunset has a section called “The Ultimate Guide to the West’s Classic National Parks” and devotes four pages to Yellowstone, including an entertaining essay by novelist Nevada Barr and write-ups on five other popular parks.

I learned that there are now 59 national parks, with 40 of them in western states. A sidebar quotes geyser guru T. Scott Bryan on why he (and I!) love geysers.

Just a couple of items of advice to visitors could be improved upon. To “ogle bears,” both black and grizzly, I would not suggest the Lamar Valley but more likely the Tower-Roosevelt area or even around Canyon or Mammoth. “About 100 gray wolves. . . can be spotted near the Blacktail Plateau” is misleading; best chances for viewing wolves have usually been some 20 or 25 miles east of there on the Northeast Entrance road; second best may be in Hayden Valley—but, then, you really never know where wolves or bears are going to be.

About boating on Yellowstone Lake, the suggestion to “rent a boat and paddle out onto the blue waters” is tempting, but they need just a few words of warning about the very common afternoon storms or perhaps even a mention that at least 40 people have drowned in the lake, many in small boats.

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A new review

Last Tuesday, reader Barbara Shaw decided to write a review of the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook on Amazon.com:

We just returned from a Winter in Yellowstone trip and this was a great resource to keep handy as we traveled around the park. Read more

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Dates announced for Yellowstone trip planning, 2014

SPRING CLOSURES—roads close for plowing
February 28: East Entrance
March 1: Mammoth to Norris road
March 2: Madison-Norris-Canyon road
March 16: South Entrance

SPRING/SUMMER SEASON ROAD OPENINGS
April 18: West Entrance
May 2: East Entrance
May 9: South Entrance

Note that not all hotels, cabins, and campgrounds open when the roads do.
For information about this year’s facility openings, see
the National Park Service’s Plan Your Visit page for Yellowstone.

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