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

Reader feedback on geology

Reader feedback on geology

Yellowstone geology map

Geological Setting of Yellowstone National Park (click for larger version)

Recently we heard from someone who found our article on Beartooth Butte confusing, so I revised that “Nugget” to be clearer. We describe a geological feature you can see if you drive outside the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park toward Red Lodge, Montana. The part we had to clear up is that Beartooth Butte is in Wyoming, but the Beartooth Range is almost wholly in Montana. The butte sits above a lake with the same name, about 20 miles on US Highway 212 from the state line.

Did you know that geologist Jo-Ann Sherwin and I spent a lot of time updating the geology in the latest edition of Yellowstone Treasures? This map we revised is the most technical one, not intended for navigation like most of the 38 maps in the guidebook! Besides the types of rock in the different mountains, the map shows calderas. (A caldera is a large circular or elliptical crater or depression formed by the collapse of a large land area after the emptying of a magma chamber in a massive volcanic explosion.) Notice how the most recent—and famous—Yellowstone Caldera is marked with a solid line because much of its edge is visible at the surface. Meanwhile, the Henrys Fork and Huckleberry Ridge Calderas have a dashed outline to show that the caldera edge is buried under more recent volcanics. East of the park, the dotted outlines of the Heart Mountain detachment and its remnants show their general size, shape, and location. These are large chunks of Paleozoic sedimentary rock that became detached from the underlying rock and slid to the southeast over the Bighorn Basin. There’s lots more to explain calderas and other geological formations in the guidebook’s Geological History chapter.

We welcome your feedback on either our books or this website. Contact us!
—Editor Beth Chapple

Map credit: Jo-Ann Sherwin adapted this map with permission from Mountain Press’s Roadside Geology of Wyoming, 2nd ed., 1991, by David R. Lageson and Darwin R. Spearing.

Elsewhere on this website you can read about “The Yellowstone Caldera” and the Heart Mountain Interpretive center: https://www.yellowstonetreasures.com/2013/07/14/trip-report-heart-mountain/.


Wintering away from Wonderland

Janet Chapple Oakland 2020

Janet Chapple, Lake Merritt, Oakland, December 6, 2020 (photo by Karen Chapple)

Beth Chapple Auburn 2020

Beth Chapple at Flaming Geyser State Park, Washington, November 15, 2020


Let us tell you how our team and our books are doing. The Yellowstone Treasures team is spending the winter close to home, outside Yellowstone, this year. Of course, with the global pandemic perhaps that is no surprise! We are doing fine but living and working from home. Editor Beth is in the Seattle area, author Janet is in Oakland, and geologist Jo-Ann is in Idaho Falls. But Yellowstone is beautiful in the winter. In January 2012, Janet made a particularly wonderful trip, commemorated in the two-part Winter in Yellowstone nugget.


Are you dreaming of Yellowstone and interested in holiday shopping? Independent Publishers Group is offering an amazing 40 percent off sale only through December 13. (Act fast!) They do recommend you order by Thursday the 10th to get delivery by Christmas. Both of these books make great gifts! Be sure to enter the promotional code IPGHOLIDAY40 to get the prices shown.

Yellowstone Treasures, Updated Sixth Edition (2020)

Plan your trip for just $14.97.
Buy now from IPG!
The photo-rich guidebook with 38 revised maps helps you plan and become the tour guide for your group. The paperback won Silver at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards in both 2010 and 2018.

Through Early Yellowstone (2016)

Get inspired for just $17.97.
Buy now from IPG!
Enjoy adventure travel accounts from 1871 to 1916, with 19th-century art and maps both historic and modern. 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention in Travel.

Happy holidays, everyone!


Explore all our guidebook editions

Curious about how Yellowstone Treasures has changed over time? Of course, every edition has updates covering finished and ongoing park construction, geyser basin changes, and advances in science. And we always correct the text to reflect changes in the Park, even in the reprints. Here we go, from the most recent back to the very first edition.

Yellowstone Treasures cover

Sixth edition (May 15, 2020). ISBN: 9781733103206

Special features of the sixth edition:

  • Cover photo by Janet Jones of SnowMoon Ink, Cody, Wyoming
  • Extensive text and diagram updates by editor Beth Chapple and geologist Jo-Ann Sherwin
  • Descriptions of the new overlooks on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the new trail to the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook, Steamboat Geyser’s resurgence in March 2018, and the surprise eruption of Ear Spring in September 2018
  • Map updates and one new map by Jennifer Johnston of Inspirit Cartographics.



Yellowstone Treasures 5th edition cover

Fifth edition (2017, reprinted 2018). ISBN: 9780985818272

Special to the fifth edition:

  • Cover designed by Vicky Vaughn Shea of Ponderosa Pine Design with a photo by Stephen Michael Gryc, composer and geyser gazer, chosen as part of our summer 2016 photo contest
  • Won Silver in Independent Book Publishing Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards in 2018
  • 65 new photos, many resulting from our photo contest or from Suzanne and David Cane
  • Revisions to the glossary of geological and other scientific terms by Jo-Ann Sherwin



Yellowstone Treasures 4th edition cover

Fourth edition (2013, repr. 2015). ISBN: 9780970687388

Special to the fourth edition:

  • Cover photo of Old Faithful Geyser by geologist and family friend Don Forsyth, continuing the theme inspired by the old Haynes guides
  • Text updates by author Janet Chapple
  • A dozen new pictures
  • 37 maps fully revised by mapmaker extraordinaire Linton Brown
  • Thorough update of the geological information and a new glossary by geologist Jo-Ann Sherwin
  • Book expanded to 400 pages
  • Color tabs to indicate the six sections of the park



Yellowstone Treasures 3rd ed. cover

Third edition (2009, repr. 2011, 2012). ISBN: 9780970687333


Special to the third edition:

  • Cover focuses on Don Forsyth’s Old Faithful Geyser photo to evoke the covers of the old Haynes guides, published almost every year from 1890 to 1966
  • Won Silver in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards in 2010. One judge wrote: “The third edition is a charm. I can’t think of any way to improve this book; it is well-researched, easily accessible and shows great love of place.”



Yellowstone Treasures 2nd ed. cover

Second edition (2005, repr. 2007, 2008). ISBN: 0970687311

Special to the second edition:

  • Cover features the photo of Old Faithful Geyser by geologist and family friend Don Forsyth, along with insets of black bear cubs and Tower Falls
  • Author Janet Chapple updated campground information and geyser activity
  • Expanded section on wolves
  • Book expanded to 392 pages
  • Colors for each road log section added to the tops of pages to aid in navigation



Yellowstone Treasures first edition cover

First edition (2002). ISBN: 0970687303

Special features of the first edition:

  • Cover designed by Elizabeth Watson with photos of Old Faithful Geyser, fireweed, sandbar and lagoon near Yellowstone Lake, mule deer. Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, bison, and Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Won Gold in Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards, 2002
  • Author Janet Chapple wrote the 384-page book, from recommendations on the best sights and organizing the six road logs to the chapters on natural and human history
  • Geologist and husband Dr. Bruno Giletti wrote the geology chapter and took most of the original photographs during their many years of trips to the Park
  • Family friend Linton Brown creates 37 maps
  • Informational sidebars are tinted according to their topic: geology and geography, human history, natural history, and park information

Picnics in the Park

flying pelican over Yellowstone River

American white pelican spotted over the Yellowstone River on May 17, 2020

All entrance roads opened on June 1. So you may be thinking of a visit, but it’s best to do your homework. For the time being, perhaps the whole summer season, there is no sit-down dining anywhere within the park. Instead, you should stock up on supplies at one of the gateway towns (such as West Yellowstone or Gardiner, Montana, or Cody or Jackson, Wyoming). Check in advance; some stores, such as Gardiner Market, will even do curbside pickup. Or buy grab-and-go meals in Yellowstone National Park. Some facilities are already open at Mammoth and Old Faithful Villages. The general stores at Mammoth and Fishing Bridge open tomorrow, June 5. On June 19, the eatery at Canyon Village will open. See this helpful “Operating Hours and Seasons” page on the official NPS website for all the details to help you in planning. And we’d love to hear from you in the comments how these new meal solutions are working for you.

Where will you take the picnic you bring or purchase? Yellowstone Treasures contains descriptions of all the picnic areas in the park. Some of our favorites are those along the Madison River, at Bridge Bay Marina, and at Gibbon Falls. Just be sure to keep your distance from the other visitors. See more about picnics in “Anyone for a Picnic?” by author Janet Chapple.

By the way, spring is a great time to see baby animals and for bird watching. Some of the birds recently seen include the American white pelican, the bald eagle, the osprey, the kildeer, the yellow warbler, and the dusky grouse. Our nugget called “Yellowstone for Birders” tells you where to see these and more. In the picnic areas you are most likely to see ravens, Clark’s nutcrackers, and gray jays, also known as camp robbers!

Photo credit: NPS / Jacob W Frank, May 17, 2020


Phased reopening

Cow elk with calf

Roads in the lower loop of Yellowstone National Park opened to the public at noon yesterday. Certain restrooms and gas stations also opened up. That means people can drive through the East and South Entrances (from Cody and Jackson, Wyoming), but the popular North and West Entrances are closed.

Keep in mind that the restrictions may seriously hamper any trip you are planning. Please peruse the chart on the NPS “Current Conditions” page carefully. Lodge rooms and sit-down dining will not open in all of 2020; cabins and grab-and-go eating or picnics will be the way to go. It’s possible to try to reserve cabins at Old Faithful starting on June 8, or at Lake or Canyon starting on June 17 or 19, respectively. Camping is possible at Madison from June 15th, as well as in other campgrounds.

This being Yellowstone, the warning out today is look out for those aggressive cow elk!

ALSO, today Gov. Bullock of Montana announced that the state will move to phase two of reopening on June 1. The good news is that “the 14-day travel quarantine for out-of-state travelers and residents arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes will be lifted” on that date. And restaurants can reopen at 75% capacity with social distancing. But the bad news for travelers is that for phase two they still have the same guidelines to minimize nonessential travel. In particular they warn that vulnerable populations and the elderly should continue to stay home.

This year, careful planning and accepting that you can’t just get in your car and go are more important than ever.

Photo credit: NPS/Jacob W. Frank


Keep calm and read on with IPG’s book sale

IPG Book Sale through May Update May 15, 2020: Today is the official print publication date of the Yellowstone Treasures, updated sixth edition! Because IPG has extended this sale I announced in April through the end of May, you can get the 30% discount off a brand-new book! Enjoy.

We sympathize with what you’re going through, whether you’re sheltering in place or working at an essential job in these risky times. So we’re happy to report that our distributor, Independent Publishers Group, has a 30% off sale on all orders via their website through April 2020. Use the code KEEPCALMANDREADON to get the discount on any of our books on IPG’s store as well as their wide selection, from children’s activities to cookbooks to escapist fiction. IPG supplies you with print or e-books, whichever you prefer.

Our books [link to IPG’s store] work as escapist armchair travel, but with a practical bent, since you can apply what you learn to a future trip. Become the tour guide for your family or other group! As Janet Jones, the cover photographer for the new edition of Yellowstone Treasures wrote me recently:

Yellowstone Treasures is a great way to virtually visit the place Yellowstone fans love.


Sixth edition e-book birthday!

Yellowstone Treasures cover 2020 Today the latest digital version of our popular guidebook was released! During July-December 2019 our team worked on updating the geyser basin, trail, and road descriptions, creating a new introduction and geological time line, revising the geology chapter, and researching new photos. The book’s cover is graced with a photo of Old Faithful Geyser by photographer and naturalist Janet Jones of Snow Moon Ink. Explore America’s first national park from your armchair with Yellowstone Treasures! See the guidebook page for more.

See our new E-book page to buy! You can get the new book in Kindle, ePub, or PDF formats for a variety of e-readers. If you’d rather borrow the book, you can ask your library to acquire this new version. (The ePub ISBN is 9781733103213.)

The print book will ship on May 15, but you can preorder it now, such as via Bookshop, a new online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community. Buy local, indie first! Or see other places to buy the print version.


Yellowstone is closed until further notice

Were you, as we were, planning a trip to the park this summer? The COVID-19 outbreak means we all need to practice social (physical) distancing, which now means a need to cancel those travel plans. Last week, concessionaire Xanterra announced they are suspending their operations (lodging, campgrounds, dining, and tours) through May 21 (see https://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/coronavirus/). Yesterday, the National Park Service made the unusual but prudent decision in tandem with gateway county health departments that they have to follow suit. NPS closed both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park to visitors until further notice. To quote from the news release: “There will be no visitor access permitted to either park. State highways and/or roads that transcend park/state boundaries and facilities that support life safety and commerce will remain open.” So one thing that is not clear at the moment is what happens to travel on the Northern Range road between Gardiner and Silver Gate. Another question no one can answer yet is, When will the parks be able to reopen?

Please stay tuned to this website, because we will soon have news about the guidebook and a short-term sale. On Friday we announced the publication date for the sixth edition of Yellowstone Treasures on our Media Kit. For now, the best advice is stay home, stay healthy!


Consider spring cycling

spring cycling Yellowstone

Spring biking with bear spray at Silver Gate (The Hoodoos), March 29, 2017


Updated March 25, 2020: This post should be renamed “Consider spring cycling another year instead.” Xanterra has closed all park facilities through May 21st at least, and as of yesterday, the National Park Service closed both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks until further notice. More in the next post. For nostalgia value and future planning, we will still leave this post up!


Doesn’t this picture inspire you to get outside (well prepared for encountering cold and bears) in Yellowstone National Park this spring? Before the first roads open up again for public travel comes the spring shoulder season for cycling. Here is what our guidebook Yellowstone Treasures has to say about the road you see in the photo, which is about 4 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs on the Mammoth to Norris Road:

3.7/17.3 The Hoodoos (or Silver Gate) one-way road. Go slowly to find and take the very short, unmarked loop road to the west—a remnant of the 1899 stagecoach road. Park here to look closely at some unusual rocks.

The massive, topsy-turvy blocks of silvery, gray-white travertine, strewn about so haphazardly, are the result of a large landslide from the slopes of Terrace Mountain to the west. No one knows when the boulders slid here. These boulders are not the same as the hoodoos you can see near the park’s East Entrance (see “What’s a Hoodoo?” on page 154). The other official name for this place, Silver Gate, is actually more appropriate.

The Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris road, the northwest segment of the Grand Loop Road (see map), closed to oversnow travel this year on Sunday, March 1st. The planned reopening date for cars for this road and out to the West Entrance is April 17th. So that means that for about two weeks before that, bicycles, including e-bikes, are allowed on certain roads! (They are never allowed on park trails.)

The following road segments may be opened to bicycling each spring:

  • Mammoth Hot Springs to the West Entrance
  • East Entrance to the east side of Sylvan Pass (six miles from the entrance)
  • South Entrance to West Thumb

Keep in mind, though, as NPS says: “Roads will not be free of cars during these times: bicyclists will encounter employees, contractors, plows, and other administrative vehicles on the roads.” You’ll need a helmet and high-visibility clothing. You’ll also want to do your research in advance; Camping for bicyclists is limited to the developed campgrounds located throughout the park. See the park’s Spring & Fall Bicycling and Bike in the Park pages for more.

Credits: Photo by NPS/Jacob W. Frank, in the public domain (see Yellowstone National Park’s Flickr page for more wonderful photos!). Road log section quoted from p. 269 of the 6th edition of Yellowstone Treasures, due out this May.


Park visitation levels off

visitors on hot spring boardwalk

Yellowstone Treasures editor, author, and granddaughter visit Hot Lake on Firehole Lake Drive, Yellowstone, June 22, 2013.



According to the Big Sky news website, www.explorebigsky.com, visitation to the park has leveled off since its peak in 2016. Here are the figures the Montana website presents.

Yellowstone Visits by Year

  • 2019 – 4,020,287
  • 2018 – 4,114,999
  • 2017 – 4,116,525
  • 2016 – 4,257,177
  • 2015 – 4,097,710
  • 2014 – 3,513,486

Explore Big Sky does not hazard a guess as to why visiting Yellowstone National Park has stopped increasing. Certainly summer will still bring crowds. Do you have an answer or even a reasonable speculation about this pattern of visitors? Are you planning a trip in 2020? Please write and let us know!