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

All posts tagged snow

A quick reminder

Categories: Trip planning
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Tomorrow, April 16 [2010], the park opens to wheeled vehicles now that the roads have been (at least mostly) plowed. Better yet, if you go this weekend the $25 entrance fee is waived. Wish I could be there!

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Time to get back to Yellowstone

Categories: Trip planning
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Just as the park is about to open for what is optimistically called the summer season, nature has dumped what looks like about a foot of snow on the Old Faithful area. Winter was relatively dry this year [2009-2010]. Snow plows have been busy for several weeks clearing the roads of what little snow they had. Nevertheless, I’m sure many of the roads and some facilities will open on April 16th as planned (after re-plowing).

For people lucky enough to be visiting a national park this month, note that all 392 national parks will waive their entrance fees from April 17 to 25, 2010. In Yellowstone, though, you’ll need to be aware that the Gibbon Canyon road (between Madison and Norris Junctions) will be under construction—all summer—and will cause 30-minute delays during the days and be closed totally from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m,, except during the Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends. See further details about the roads on the
National Park Service road closures page, or call 307-344-2117.

I’ve been unable to blog for a month due to the stresses of moving to a new address, but now that the park is about to open, I expect to have plenty to say about my favorite place.

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Bears out already

Categories: Wildlife, Winter
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I just read today that both blacks and grizzlies are coming out of their dens a little early this year [2010]. It’s not really surprising, since the snow pack is way below normal, and it has been relatively warm in Yellowstone. Tracks and bears have been sighted in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone, starting in early February, according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

It saddens me to look at the Old Faithful Webcam—which I do nearly every day—because the viewing benches should be deep in snow this time of the year, but they usually haven’t been. And this can mean increased fire danger and hardship for all the animals, unless the next few months reverse the trend.

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Yellowstone news of early winter: report on skiing and wildlife

Categories: On the Web, Trip planning, Wildlife, Winter
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Things are off to a slow start this year [2009], with snow cover just sufficient to open the roads to over-snow vehicles on December 15. As of Dec. 27, Old Faithful and the West Entrance had 15 inches of snow on the ground, the East Entrance had 14, and Mammoth only 3. The new official (but temporary) plan allows 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches to enter Yellowstone per day.

Jim Holstein, a Yellowstone tour guide, reports that although skiing at Big Sky north of Yellowstone is great, he is anticipating a very slow January in the park itself. Even the wildlife are staying in the upper elevations, and it “has been the slowest start for wildlife that we have had in the Northern Range in the 19 years I have been guiding.”

Just outside the East Entrance, one of the oldest downhill ski centers in the U.S., dating from the 1930s, has re-opened after having been closed since 2004. There’s where you can catch the lift at the Sleeping Giant Ski Area, or you might go across the road to use the cross-country trails at Buffalo Bill’s summer home, Pahaska Tepee.

Inside the park, visitors can now cross Sylvan Pass. As of December 22, after rangers used howitzers to help prevent avalanches from blocking the 8500-foot (2600 m) pass, it was opened to over-snow vehicles and ambitious skiers. Winter use of this entrance has created controversy for years due to the high cost of keeping it open for relatively few visitors.

Here is good winter news for Yellowstone’s beleaguered bison: Horse Butte near Hebgen Lake just west of the park will be permanently closed to cattle grazing. In recent winters “bison have been needlessly hazed from Horse Butte back into the park with helicopters, horses, ATVs, and snowmobiles. A lot of time, resources and your taxpayer dollars are unnecessarily wasted along the way,” according to Matt Skoglund in his “Guest Opinion: Gallatin National Forest presents gift to Yellowstone bison.”

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Countdown to Yellowstone’s winter season

Categories: Geysers, Winter
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There’s not much snow yet [in December 2009], but the southern part of the park could get three to six inches this weekend, and visitors who want to enter on snowcoaches or snowmobiles on opening day, December 15th, may be in luck. Or they may have to go the only way allowed, if there’s not enough snow——by commercial wheeled vehicle, that is, buses.

You can check out what Old Faithful looks like in daylight hours at the Old Faithful Webcam and judge for yourself whether the snow is getting deep by checking out whether or not the viewing benches are covered. Then starting Tuesday, the predicted time of the geyser’s next eruption will be posted.

Meanwhile, if you just want to enjoy ice-skating in a swinging western town, you can visit the newly revamped skating rink in West Yellowstone, Montana. According to a local news source:

The new and improved ice rink will make the process of making and maintaining a smoother surface easier and more efficient by keeping the water in place while freezing. In years past, the ground would have to be completely frozen and then saturated with a fine mist, a process that could take weeks to accomplish. This year, the ice rink was erected and flooded in two days.

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Autumn news about visiting Yellowstone

Categories: News
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The best news is that 2009 is proving to be a record year for Yellowstone visitation. Most roads are now closed, and snow pack is beginning to accumulate in many parts of the park, but through October the number of people visiting the park has never been higher. More than 3.2 million visitors entered the five gates from January through October. The National Park Service attributes the steep rise in visitation this year to people realizing that national park visits are a good value and to fuel prices remaining lower than in 2008. Three summer weekends when entrance fees were waived may also have contributed to the higher numbers.

This high visitation rubbed off on sales of Yellowstone Treasures, which, I’m happy to say, have never been better. Comments like these may have helped:

We have just received our copy of your wonderful book in the mail and we cannot put it down! My husband and I are planning our 4th trip to Yellowstone for this Fall. . . . We are so excited and even more so now that we have found your wonderful resource which will accompany us every step of the way.

The book was a magnificent guide that allowed my family (wife, two little girls ages 5 and 7, and their grandparents), to maximize every moment in this wonderful place. Incremental details, ease of info lookup, summary on prioritizing sites, lodging, etc. This book is just like a non-electronic GPS with supporting info, as the roads are relatively simple in the park. Our copy is treasured and tattered. . . .

Everything my traveling companions and I could want to know or need to know about the area within Yellowstone was within the nearly 400 pages of this book. The next time my friends and I go back to the park, we certainly will be making use of Ms. Chapple’s work. If you are planning to visit Yellowstone National Park, I strongly advise you to get a copy of this book beforehand yourself and keep it on hand as you traverse the park.

And I was delighted to find that Amazon is including a copy of Yellowstone Treasures with the Canon sweepstakes they will hold November 9-15.

Chalk up one more for Yellowstone: Fodors.com has a forum where someone asked whether Yellowstone or Yosemite would be a better choice as a vacation spot for taking children 11 and 13 next summer. Two of the comments were: “Yellowstone has such variety in natural settings, unique environments, and wildlife . . . “ and “There are plenty of ‘walks’—rather than hikes. Places where you park your car and walk about one-half mile along a nice path. . . . Don’t think of this trip as a drive-by Disney-type experience.” I can second that!

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