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

Through British Eyes—Yellowstone, Summer 2016

Through British Eyes—Yellowstone, Summer 2016

In this special summer when record numbers are expected in all the nation’s parks due to the centennial of the National Park Service, gas prices are down somewhat, and many foreign tourists (especially those from China) are touring the U.S., a neighbor has sent me a perceptive account of her British friends’ June trip through Yellowstone. I think reading Annie’s comments about Yellowstone may be both entertaining and helpful to people visiting in the next two or three months, so I’m passing along some excerpts from the message she recently sent my neighbor. You’ll learn both the plusses and minuses of a 2016 summer visit!

Pictures here of Aurum Spring at Upper Geyser Basin and Naiad Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs are courtesy of Suzanne Cane, taken in 2013.

From Annie and Paul’s 2016 Trip Report

Our next National Park was Yellowstone, which you can enter by driving through The Grand Tetons and using the South Entrance. We have now visited so many parks that we wondered what Yellowstone could offer that would amaze us yet again.

[The morning after settling into their campsite] From past experience we know you have to go in the parks early so we headed in about 7 am, our aim being to get to the old Faithful Geyser, so named as it erupts more reliably than any other big geysers. At present it erupts roughly every 90 minutes. It expels anywhere between 4–8 thousand gallons of boiling water and reaches a height between 1–2 hundred feet. It is not the largest geyser in the park, but you are guaranteed to see it blow. We had around 40 minutes to wait so took a walk around Geyser Hill.
SC031_Aurum G_12in.copy Aurum Geyser’s pool on Geyser Hill “lays” uniform geyser eggs

It was a truly surreal experience; the Park has built boardwalks around the geysers, and walking around there is a strong smell of sulphur, which Paul hated. I felt it was rather healthy to inhale and clear the lungs. (Ed., Venus, Mars…) The pools vary in size and colour, some small with luminous turquoises and blues. The large ones can be almost obscured with steam, but the wind will momentarily clear it to show crystal clear water bubbling away. Then there are the mud pools which go gloop, gloop, gloop and really stink. We saw some small eruptions but nothing amazing. What was surprising was the number of flowers growing quite close to the geysers’ centres.

We headed back to Old Faithful, which was now due to erupt. The photographers had gathered but there is a large viewing area all around the geyser. There were several false alarms with little spouts of water and massive eruptions of steam, then suddenly she was off—huge column of water rising into the air followed by clouds of steam. It lasted for about 3 minutes and was truly impressive.

Leaving Old Faithful we drove slowly along the Yellowstone Lake, one of the world’s largest alpine lakes, its shores are volcanic beaches. To the east and southeast of the lakes are the wild and snowcapped Absaroka Range of mountains. Truly beautiful.

We wended our way back to camp and decided to treat ourselves to dinner out. We made enquiries at the office and they recommended Bar N Ranch for excellent steaks, quiet and good service. Just what we wanted. It was 10 minutes out of town and perfect. A large wooden lodge style building, we had a lovely table in the window looking out over fields to the pine forests in the distance and their tented camp site, which actually looked a bit like an Indian war army camp all in straight lines with US flags flying! However, the food was great, fresh salad, 9oz. fillet steak cooked medium rare, (not rare as in England which is raw in America) and nice vegetables, and a mellow glass of red wine. Perfect end to the day. [This restaurant is new to me—maybe I’ll get to sample it this summer!]

Next day we went into the park a bit later, which was a big mistake, crowds of people and difficulty parking at various view points. . . . [Driving north of Beryl Spring, between Madison and Norris,] we got stuck in a massive line of cars. We thought it was road works, slowly we crawled along until finally we got to an open clearing and found cars stopping all over the road to photograph bison, really!—hardly the most enchanting of animals and how many photos do you need? That put me in a bad mood as it seems so selfish.

[Unable to find parking at Norris Geyser Basin] we headed on around to Mammoth Hot Springs. Lots of car parks but very busy and we finally got into one and set off on the boardwalk. The hot springs here have created very strange rock formations like steps with boiling water running down them, large pools of iridescent green and blue, bubbling and steaming. . . . I walked higher and higher, and at the top you have an overlook of all the spectacular terraces.
P1050633_Naiad Spring Naiad Spring, about halfway up the stairs from the Mammoth Lower Terrace parking areas, became active in 2012.

Most of the geysers are in the Southern Loop. . . We headed in on day 3 at about 7 am and reached Biscuit and Black Sand Basin well before the crowds. It is really difficult to do justice to these geysers. One favourite was Excelsior Crater; it was completely covered in steam which also enveloped us, and as we reached the far side of the pool the wind cleared, the steam momentarily revealing the brilliant colours in the water, at the edges light turquoise getting darker and then deep blue in the centre, and really clear. Quite phenomenal. Grand Prismatic Spring was quite dramatic, as from a distance you can see the steam is coloured blue, mauve, red, pink and yellow. As you get nearer the steam swirls about you and it is a really eerie feeling. Unique and, yes, awesome!!

Yellowstone is a fantastic park, we gave it 5 days but really do need longer to explore it.

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Visiting Yellowstone in October

Someone on the website Quora just asked about visiting Yellowstone in October, so here’s what I came up with while surfing the National Park Service website for Yellowstone:

Facilities open in October are:
Lake Hotel and Cabins to Oct. 9
Mammoth Hotel and Cabins to Oct. 10
Old Faithful: Snow Lodge and Cabins to Oct. 16; Inn to Oct. 9; Lodge and Cabins to Oct. 5

All campgrounds close in September, except the one at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is open all year.
Almost all roads are open until November 7; Dunraven Pass and Beartooth Pass close on October 11.

Since the weather always turns cold and snowy more and more during October, visitors need to be prepared to dress warmly and could need snow tires in some areas. All thermal areas and most wildlife can be seen (bears are just beginning to think about hibernating), but visitor center hours are limited, some dining facilities are closed, and ranger programs have already ceased in September.

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Wolves and Grizzlies and Good Reading

wolf

Gray wolf, Yellowstone Treasures page 351, photo courtesy National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park

Wolves have been feared and hated by humans for centuries. “It’s like the abortion issue of wildlife,” according to a recent Oliver Milman article in The Guardian’s U.S. edition. In his thoughtful article, Milman traces gray wolves from their rebound in Great Lakes states in the 1960s and their reintroduction to Yellowstone in the mid 1990s. He quotes wolf restoration project leader Doug Smith: “Fifty years ago, everyone hated wolves. Now, half the population hates wolves. We are progressing . . .”

I confess to having missed Endangered Species Day, which was May 20th this year. But I see that the Endangered Species Coalition has an extensive reading list for young and adult readers, including wolf books for children. For adults, it includes a favorite of mine, The Song of the Dodo, by David Quammen, the renowned author who just wrote the text for National Geographic’s May issue on Yellowstone. Then there’s a book I would like to read, The Future of Life, by one of our wisest scientists, Edward O. Wilson.

* * * * *

grizzly bear and cub

Grizzly bear sow and yearling on boardwalk at Daisy Geyser, NPS Flickr photo

The fate of the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area is a serious matter on the verge of being decided by the courts. People who live, work, hunt, or frequently visit the area are closely following the controversy over listing / delisting the great bears.

An excellent article appears in the May 16th issue of the magazine High Country News. Carefully researched and written by environmental journalist Gloria Dickie, her article puts the whole problem of managing grizzlies in perspective. Grizzlies can live about twenty-five years in the wild. There are now 717 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by a recent estimate and 960 in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (in and around Glacier National Park).

Environmentalists would like to find a way to bridge these two populations for their genetic health. Meanwhile, others with strong opinions about whether or not the bears should be delisted include hunters, outfitters, photo safari guides, and Native American Indian tribal leaders.

Chris Servheen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly bear recovery coordinator, believes the recovery level of grizzly bears reached as of now more than fulfills the goals of the Endangered Species Act. The bears’ recovery is “the greatest success story of all,” he says.

The controversy continues, but for comic relief here is a bit of (definitely not politically correct) historic humor that appears in my new collection, Through Early Yellowstone. This took place in the first decade of the twentieth century.

How Buffalo Jones Disciplined a Bad Grizzly
by William T. Hornaday
in The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals, 1922

The most ridiculous and laughable performance ever put up with a wild grizzly bear as an actor was staged by Col. C. J. (“Buffalo”) Jones, when he was superintendent of the wild animals of the Yellowstone Park. He marked down for punishment a particularly troublesome grizzly that had often raided tourists’ camps at a certain spot, to steal food. Very skillfully he roped that grizzly around one of his hind legs, suspended him from the limb of a tree, and while the disgraced and outraged silver-tip swung to and fro, bawling, cursing, snapping, snorting, and wildly clawing at the air, Buffalo Jones whaled it with a beanpole until he was tired. With commendable forethought Mr. Jones had for that occasion provided a moving-picture camera, and this film always produces roars of laughter.

Now, here is where we guessed wrongly. We supposed that whenever and wherever a well-beaten grizzly was turned loose, the angry animal would attack the lynching party. But not so. When Mr. Jones’ chastened grizzly was turned loose, it thought not of reprisals. It wildly fled to the tall timber, plunged into it, and there turned over a new leaf.

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A testimonial for Through Early Yellowstone

Here’s a delightful message sent to us this week by Lois Atwood of Providence, Rhode Island:

Thank you for sending me the book [Through Early Yellowstone], which I truly love.

I wish this had been available when I first entered Yellowstone, as viewing the park’s wonders through the eyes of early travelers highlights their extraordinary nature and variety, and the difficulties early travelers faced. I enjoyed the many details of a developing tourist trade—tent hotels, trails and roads that suddenly stopped, rare interactions with wild animals, the mother who set out for a park summer with her lively children and left her money at home—the list goes on and on. I frequently turned anew to the thirty or so paintings, never before reproduced. The book is filled with treasures, insights, humor, pictures, and descriptions of our first and still most unusual and startling national park.

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From the Desk of Janet Chapple

Personal Essay for University of Nebraska Press’s #FindYourPark Series

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

At the invitation of the publisher of the travelogue by Jules Leclercq that I translated with my colleague Suzanne Cane, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, I’ve recently written about my personal connection with Yellowstone National Park for their website.

Reflecting a lifetime association with the park—or, at least, a strong association during some of my very early years and then again since the age of sixty—I’ve written about my early memories of being there and why Yellowstone means so much to me that I continue to research and write about it during years when I might be taking it easy.

I hope my blog readers might be inspired to reward themselves with repeated visits to this richly fascinating and incomparable national treasure.

Photo credit: The image of the Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley is an NPS photo.

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Priceless Yellowstone bear video shot by National Geographic team

In case you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at this! It even has a surprise ending. . . .

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Yellowstone News Unseen and Seen

Exciting for Granite Peak Publications and me is to know that our shipment of several pallets of spanking new copies of Through Early Yellowstone arrives today at the Port of Seattle from China! That’s the unseen news.

The fun-to-see news appeared this morning in the Yellowstone Foundation newsletter. It’s the announcement of the winners in their Yellowstone Forever Photo Contest.View a slide show of the 100 top entries.Their 2016 contest will open in June.

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E-books for international readers

European Map of Norway
In early April 2016 we got this message on the Granite Peak contact form:

Please make Yellowstone Treasures available for international customers through iBooks/iTunes. I love the book, but books are heavy so I would like to have it with me as an ebook when I travel to the US and Yellowstone later this year. When trying to buy it in the iTunes store I am told I need an American account to buy it. Other ways I can get the pdf or epub?
Best Regards
Ann Kristin Lindaas from Norway

I’d like to share our correspondence, edited for length, so everyone knows people around the world can now easily get the Yellowstone Treasures ebook.

April 9

Dear Ann Kristin,
I’m sorry you are having trouble obtaining Yellowstone Treasures as an ebook from outside North America. The problem is that I had only officially granted US and Canadian rights to my distributor. I will add you to the e-newsletter list and try to notify you as soon as the pdf and other versions are available to the rest of the world. The distributor says they are changing this!
Enjoy your trip!
Regards,
Beth
Editor and Publisher
Granite Peak Publications

April 10

That’s great news! I have already bought the print book and I really enjoy it. Essential for planning my days in Yellowstone! I will be traveling the US for about a month in September and I’m hoping to bring electronic versions of most of the books I’ve bought 🙂
Best regards
Ann

April 14

Hi, Ann,
I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the guidebook. Today I see that you should be able to buy it in pdf or epub format now, because the listing says World rights. You can buy the ebook on our distributor’s website. If you want to read it on an iPad, you will need to download the free Bluefire Reader app. Or if you prefer, you can try finding it in iTunes, but I am not sure if the book is available there yet.
Regards,
Beth

April 19

I am now the very happy reader of Yellowstone Treasures on my mobile phone and tablet (iPhone/iPad)! I would recommend the pdf version, not the epub, because of poor image quality in the epub. Pictures in the epub are blurry when enlarged (when you zoom in) and on a small device, you need to be able to zoom in on the details in the maps. This is not an issue with the pdf. I have written Terry at IPG about this and a couple of other things.

Yes, you can quote me and use my name! 🙂
I really appreciate that you and IPG are making digital versions available. I’ve also written National Geographic about the same thing, and only received a “sorry we don’t have our guidebooks available in digital formats” reply. Those books will be left at home even though I would have really liked to have them with me on my trip later this year.
Best regards
Ann

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Yellowstone Bison Get Room to Roam at Last

Bison herd in winter
Bison herd in winter

The Livingston Enterprise recently reported a rare coming-together of often contentious parties. Federal, state, and tribal agencies that manage Yellowstone Park bison have agreed to let bison stay in parts of Montana year-round. The members of the Interagency Bison Management Plan have verbally agreed to Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s decision to allow the big animals to roam outside the park in search of food on an estimated 400 square miles north and west of the park.

Searching through my past blog posts for what I’ve written before about bison, I can only find rare mentions of the biggest and perhaps most charismatic of Yellowstone’s “charismatic megafauna.” And even in the thirty-five or more “Nuggets” of park information I’ve supplied, somehow I’ve managed to skip writing about bison. These days, when you go to the park, you may not see bears or wolves, and even elk are not so common as they were when I started writing about the park. But bison?—oh, yes, you’ll see herds of them!

Wild animals are not even mentioned in the 1872 act of Congress that set aside “a certain Tract of Land lying near the Head-waters of the Yellowstone River” in “the Territories of Montana and Wyoming.” Regulations were to be set up for the preservation of “timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders,” and “wanton destruction of the fish and game” was frowned upon. That animals were not mentioned in the Organic Act does not surprise me, since in the 1870s there were still millions of bison in the U.S. West, and other wild animals were everywhere, too. What need was there to preserve them?

The fate of the bison illustrates probably the most grievous case of man’s wanton destruction of a natural resource in America’s history. Not only did hunters nearly eradicate the bison during the last decades of the 19th century, but the slaughter was actually encouraged by the government to suppress the Native American Indians who depended upon them.

During the 20th century, different efforts to bring bison back to Yellowstone met with varying success, but now there are close to 5,000 of them in and near the park. This is really too many to be manageable in the parts of the park where they prefer to graze. In recent decades the question of whether they can transmit brucellosis to domestic cattle has greatly complicated the scene and caused major strife between the National Park Service and other interested agencies. Brucellosis is a disease that can cause a pregnant cow to abort her calf, understandably a concern for Montana ranchers. But no cases of the disease being transmitted from bison to cattle have ever been documented, and besides, elk can also carry brucellosis.

Since 2000, wandering bison have sometimes been hazed back into the park in wintertime. Some have been quarantined and others relocated to Indian reservations. With this spring’s new regulation, the iconic animal that appeared on the “buffalo nickel” for decades has a better chance to survive severe winters.

I must issue a word of warning, though: more people are injured in Yellowstone by bison than by any other animal. Lately visitors are being injured and even killed while taking so-called selfies. Bison look placid but are NOT tame and can run very fast. Stay at least 25 yards away—unless, while driving, you are caught in a “bison jam.” This happens especially in Hayden Valley, where the animals frequently cross the highway. In that case, stay in your car and wait patiently!

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Great bike-riding opportunity this month!

Some of the plowed roads in Yellowstone are open for just a short time every year to bike riders. This great opportunity to enjoy the road from West Yellowstone to Mammoth car-free lasts until April 15th, when the other park roads gradually open to motorized vehicles. You can enjoy the quiet, the animals, and all the beauties of the northwest part of the park on two skinny wheels. Click here for all the details. Note that the road from Madison to Old Faithful is closed at this time for bear management.

The same privilege is offered by Glacier National Park in northern Montana, another paradise. But Going-to-the-Sun Highway requires really ambitious bike riders with good brakes!

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