GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

Visitor Center at Old Faithful Village

When I first heard they were putting up a new visitor center and planning to call it a Visitor Education Center, I confess to wondering if that name would put people off. Do people really want to come to Yellowstone to be educated? Don’t the kids who have escaped school for their all-too-short summer vacations want to just enjoy the park and all it has to offer?

Well, they didn’t listen to my (unvoiced) objections, and the new center will be officially opened on August 25th [2010]. I admit I can hardly wait to see it and have planned my own time in the park this year around that date. I would love to tell the NPS officials in charge of the ceremony how I fondly remember the combination ranger station, museum, and amphitheater where I got to spend happy times two visitor centers ago, when my family lived at Old Faithful for four great summers.

I particularly remember the model geyser in the little museum and the samples of the rocks to be found—which, I later learned, are actually created in Yellowstone. The museum also had some labeled plant samples, so I began to learn the differences between lodgepole pines and the other evergreen trees in the park. I believe there were also some sample mounted animals, but I was never a big animal person (live or stuffed), unlike most of the children who come to the park.

The amphitheater was where my family spent many pleasant evenings listening to ranger talks and singing western songs that many people knew in those days. I’ve wondered since that time why they did not have an amphitheater when the visitor center was replaced about forty years ago, but there will be a state-of-the-art indoor theater in the new building.