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

What to see and do near Canyon Village

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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What’s the difference between global warming and climate change?

Recently I decided to trace why we seem to read and hear the expression “climate change” more often these days than “global warming.” I’m not the only person who has noticed that the global changes we are seeing do not trend uniformly in the direction of warming. What about the many snow storms this winter, reaching farther south than usual in the U.S.? What about the apparent increase in the number of hurricanes? What about the thick air over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, not to mention the un-breathable air much of the time in Beijing, China?

I decided to Google this exact question: When did “global warming” become “climate change”? It turns out this was not the best way to word my question. I went through the first four pages of answers, some helpful but many rants by people who don’t “believe” in either global warming or climate change. But here’s what I learned.

The entire history of these two expressions is available on those pages in two or three versions. I noted an article in the New York Times on Oct. 15, 2011, that seemed to use the two terms more or less interchangeably. However, an earlier NASA article (12/04/08) preferred “global climate change” because: “Global warming refers [only] to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect.” This was an Aha! moment for me.

The articles I read or scanned quickly show a gradual evolution in preference for using the word “change” over “warming” in the 1980s and 1990s. Maybe we can trace this to the fact that it was in 1988 that an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up by the United Nations.

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Continuing interest in the Anthropocene

Since I find it quite fascinating, I may be following up on my January 22 through February 4 series on the Anthropocene for a while yet. For other people who would like to know more about this still rather unfamiliar word and its implications, webmaster/daughter Beth has found a short and succinct video.

And for people who are willing to invest twenty minutes or so watching a mini-lecture from the point of view of a Swedish anthropology professor, try this.

Then, as if we didn’t have enough syllables in the word already, there’s a long technical article on Science Direct with a new twist, The Palaeoanthropocene.

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Montana’s wolves on National Public Radio

Since wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species list in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, all three states have developed plans to drastically cut back their wolf populations. Idaho wants to eliminate 60% of theirs, and the other states have large quotas, too.

Last Saturday I heard a short segment on Weekend Edition, where the voices and the scenes described took me back to my Montana childhood—even though I always lived in town. It began with the news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claims the scientific research is insufficient to make a national decision about wolf delisting. Take a listen and note a great idea near the end. Can you really teach cattle to herd or group up like bison?

I have one small complaint: the Native American Indian name still used for the beautiful mountain range to the east of Yellowstone should be pronounced ab-SAR-o-kas, not ab-sa-ROKE-as.

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Please keep calm about Yellowstone Caldera activity!

Here is another good article by a knowledgeable person striving to calm down Internet hysteria about what may be happening in the Yellowstone Caldera:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/02/think-yellowstone-erupt/

The lovely picture at the head of the article is of Porcelain Basin at Norris Geyser Basin.

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Living in the Anthropocene, Part IV

Many nonprofit organizations are making a difference in how we use and affect Earth. They are offering programs that train young people to value and care for our special lands and resources. In the U.S. these include the Nature Conservancy, NatureBridge, and the Student Conservation Association.

Individuals are also making a difference in mitigating the changes humans have brought to Earth. I have come up with three small examples. Stanford University graduate student Mike Osborne and friends have set up a series of podcasts and a website they call Generation Anthropocene [1]. They have interviewed and posted essays by scientists and others who are working full time on the big problems. A quote I like from their website goes, “If humans are the force that has harmed the Earth, we are responsible for turning it around.” Osborne is ultimately optimistic: Humans “thus far have demonstrated that we’re perhaps the most adaptable organism in the history of the planet. We are amazing innovators, and you have to believe that we’re an evolutionary success. . . .“

On Hawaii’s island of Oahu, a land and town planner named Bruce Tsuchida runs a small planning company that creates land and water conservation plans for numerous native Hawaiian organizations, including educational components for high school students. The goal of the high school program is “to protect this very important cultural landscape and see that it is used in culturally appropriate ways. . . .” [2]

Karen Chapple backyard cottage in Berkeley My daughter Karen Chapple is a University of California—Berkeley associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and the faculty director of their Center for Community Innovation. In connection with her concern that many more units of affordable housing are needed in the San Francisco Bay area, she has built a tiny “green” cottage at the back of her Berkeley property. She says it “helps people understand how they could reduce their material possessions and carbon footprint” [3].

Maybe the new word Anthropocene or the question of declaring a new epoch are not important to everyone, but the human-caused problems are the concern of us all. We can try to understand, ponder, and discuss the implications of the Anthropocene, and we can contribute in our smaller or larger ways to the goal of allowing Earth to support human life for as long as possible.

References

[1] Generation Anthropocene podcasts and essays
[2] The Ka’ala Farms project that planner Tsuchida is involved with: Cordy, Ross. “Archaeology: How the land tells its story,” Ka’ala Farm blog, April 17, 2013.
[3] Dr. Karen Chapple’s backyard cottage featured: Maclay, Kathleen. “With streamlined regulations, in-law units could boost East Bay affordable housing stock and economy, study finds.” UC Berkeley News Center, September 13, 2011.

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Giantess Geyser erupts!

After a dormant interval of 2 years and 139 days, on this snowy Thursday one of Yellowstone’s most powerful geysers awoke and put on a show for the few Yellowstone visitors in the Upper Geyser Basin. Giantess erupts in spurts of various durations interspersed with roaring steam periods. It may go 200 feet high above Geyser Hill but gives no warning before it starts.

The last eruption of Giantess was on September 13, 2011. It had erupted two or three times per year for the quarter century or so before that.

I got lucky only once in the dozens of times I’ve been in the park. That was on September 5, 2001—note the proximity to 9/11—and our flight home from the park touched down in Rhode Island on the evening of September 10! My friend and map-maker Linton Brown was able to shoot the picture now gracing page 98 of Yellowstone Treasures.

Go Giantess!

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