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

What to do on this website

What to do on this website

lance-leaved stonecrop

Lance-leaved stonecrop

Besides finding out about the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook and learning of news in the Yellowstone area on Janet Chapple’s author blog, what else can you do on this website?

If you have kids, you can explore what it would be like to travel with them to the park in “Taking the family to Yellowstone Park” and “Itinerary for a family trip.” And now there’s another activity for kids: go to the new “Color a Wildflower” page to find coloring pages for the flowering plants and trees that grow in Yellowstone. In fact, one of the ones you can print out and color is the stonecrop, pictured above. If you want to be sure your pictures are botanically accurate, you can even use the coloring guide for each page, which shows you which color to use for each part. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the plants before you get there!

CREDITS: The photo is by Bruno Giletti.

Enjoy the website,
Beth Chapple, Editor

Share Button

Trip planning

One aspect many people wonder about when getting ready to travel to Yellowstone is how do people stay in touch? Cell phones have limited usefulness in Yellowstone, but relay towers are gradually being added throughout the park. The most reliable service can be found at Canyon, Grant, Mammoth, and Old Faithful. In 2013 a tower at Lake was announced as planned for the near future. Many geyser enthusiasts (“geyser gazers”) use FRS radios to keep in touch, especially in Upper Geyser Basin.

Are you wondering what the seasons are like in the park? We have just posted a table showing you what the weather will be like in each season, to help you decide when to go.

Many of the posts Janet has written on her blog over the years give you more tips to help you reserve lodging, decide on what to see, and plan when to go. She also lets you know about facilities that will be closing or opening for the season. A quick way to find these tips is to search for “trip planning” in the Category list in the right column of this blog.

Have a good journey,
Beth Chapple, Editor

Share Button

The Yellowstone grizzly bear’s chances for survival

The question of whether or not the grizzly bear should be removed from the Endangered Species List is still being studied. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will present its report December 11 in Missoula, MT. Grizzlies may not really be at risk, their report says, since the bears do not depend greatly on the now-relatively-scarce whitebark pine nuts for late-season food preparing them for hibernation, as many knowledgeable people have asserted. Instead, they are turning more to meat and foraging at lower elevations than previously. “A 75 percent reduction in whitebark numbers since 2002 isn’t cause for worry,” states the study’s report.

But other bear experts disagree that the grizzly population is out of danger. A retired bear biologist stated that three of the bears’ four main sources of food have declined recently: “We’ve got catastrophic loss of whitebark pine, catastrophic loss of cutthroat trout, and major declines in numbers of elk. [Only] army cutworm moths are hanging in there,” he told the Jackson (WY) News and Guide.

For my money, it looks like this bear population of Greater Yellowstone, which is variously stated as between 600 and 700-plus individuals, is not out of danger yet. The entire article by Mike Koshmrl is called “Pine Decline OK for Grizzly.”

No posts from me next week, since I’ll be attending the American Geophysical Union annual meeting to learn more about new research pertaining to Yellowstone.

Share Button

Recommended walks in Yellowstone Park

Until the park reopens fully next April, we won’t be able to follow any of its wonderful trails except for those open to skiing and snowshoeing. But I have happy memories—as well as anticipation for my own future use—of walking wonderful Yellowstone trails in the summer season.

Yellowstone Treasures’ first edition (2002) listed 59 trails that I recommend, having walked all of them myself, most of them several times. But now in the fourth edition we’re down to 56, and here’s my chance to explain what happened to those three lost trails!

First, in the Canyon area, the trail from Artists’ Point east along the canyon’s south rim, where I’ve written (on page 182 in the new edition) that you can see “some of the most awe-inspiring sunset colors you will see anywhere, with the sky and canyon rivaling each other on a beautiful evening.” This trail is not maintained for casual walkers. The National Park Service warns hikers of uneven footing and steep drop-offs; it’s also narrow and sometimes slippery.

Next, the trail to the base of Tower Fall has proven so difficult to maintain over the years that it disappeared from my table of walks (pages 366 to 368) as early as the second edition of Yellowstone Treasures, which came out in 2005. The picture below shows Tower Fall from the easily accessible viewing platform.
Tower Fall

Most recently, I’ve had to remove a quiet, little-used, level road with many wildflowers and lovely mountain views that was formerly open to biking and walking, This was a two mile (in and out) route leaving the main road south of Swan Lake in the northwestern part of the park. It has been closed for public use for a year or two now and is only a service road.

For your information: The park will not reopen until December 15; from then on until early March there will be relatively limited access. Only snow coaches and snowmobiles may use the groomed roads. The one road that is plowed for cars and trucks goes from the North Entrance at Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance and on to Cooke City. Of course, winter is the best time to see wolves along that road, especially in the Lamar Valley.

Share Button

Holiday Bells will soon be ringing in Yellowstone, too!

The winter season opens December 15th in Yellowstone Park. It’s a wonderful time to see the park in its coat of ice and snow. Reservations for snowcoach travel and for rooms in Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and in Old Faithful Snow Lodge can be made through the concessionaire Xanterra at: 307-344-7311. This year they are also running a shuttle from the airport in Bozeman, Montana, to Mammoth, so you will not need to drive at all.

For your winter or summer trips, treat yourself and friends to copies of Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park. This year’s Updated Fourth Edition is available from our website at a 20% discount from now through January 20, 2014. Just go to the Guidebook page for the print version, and use “Holidays” as the discount code.

You can buy the Kindle, Nook, and iPad versions at online vendors—sorry, we do not sell e-books from our website.

Share Button

Sharing facts

Janet’s guidebook reveals many historical and geological facts to the reader. For example, here’s an excerpt from the road log for a point six miles from Fishing Bridge Junction on Yellowstone Lake:

Turnout at Holmes Point, named for W. H. Holmes after the initials W. H. H. were found on a rock here. Holmes was the artist and geologist with the 1872 and 1878 Hayden Surveys.

From this point the road follows Mary Bay of Yellowstone Lake for a while. Mary Bay was named for Mary Force, the girlfriend of Henry Elliot, artist with the 1871 Hayden Survey. Mary’s name remains on the bay, though when Elliot returned home, he married someone else.

The rounded forms and steep sides of Mary Bay attest to the fact that it is an explosion crater. The Mary Bay crater dates back about 13,800 years. The bay has lots of underwater hot springs and the hottest spot in the lake, measured at 212°F (100°C).

What if you have never heard of the Hayden Surveys? The Chronology chapter at the back of Yellowstone Treasures tells you about the 1871 one: “Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden leads the first of three congressionally funded Yellowstone expeditions” (p. 321).

And what if you would like to know more about what an explosion crater is? Look in the Glossary and you will find:

explosion crater
A feature found in volcanic terrains. A sudden pressure drop causes hot water to flash into steam and blast a hole in Earth’s surface.

Sincerely,
The editor, Beth Chapple

Share Button

Dynamic Earth: Yellowstone geology doesn’t stay the same

Yellowstone Treasures‘s geology writing strives to keep up—

If you were to contemplate nature’s many facets and how quickly things change over the seasons and the years, you might think that you can at least count on the rocks and the mountains to stay the same. Wrong! Geoscientists will tell you that even mountains have their own dynamics. But their rate of change is much slower than humans can easily grasp in their relatively short lifetimes. Nature shapes the land we live on over centuries and millennia, but the rate at which geoscientists learn about it using new methods, ideas, and equipment is constantly accelerating.

Wanting to keep track of all this activity as it pertains to Yellowstone Park for the updated fourth edition of my guidebook, I was delighted when my old friend Dr. Jo-Ann Sherwin offered to bring us up to date about Yellowstone’s geology. I’ve known Jo-Ann ever since she was an outstanding student, whose advisor during her Brown University PhD research was my first husband Bill Chapple. She was the first woman to earn a PhD in their geology department and has gone on to a long career in research and teaching. She also lives in Idaho Falls, convenient to the west side of Yellowstone.

Jo-Ann reviewed the entire book and made numerous suggestions. She also rewrote large portions of our geological history essay, “The Stories in Yellowstone’s Rocks.” Our goal is to make our explanations accurate but concise and as clear as possible without any technical writing. Here’s a short sample from our essay that draws upon recent research into the source and age of the water for the park’s thousands of geysers and hot springs (hydrothermal features):

What makes the different hydrothermal features do what they do? Basically, the great volume of groundwater is heated by very hot rocks quite near the surface at Yellowstone.
There is a very large amount of old groundwater, at least 60 but perhaps greater than 10,000 years old, just above the magma below Yellowstone. The source of this water may have been the glaciers that covered the area or rain and snow in the surrounding mountains, 12 to 45 miles (20 to 70 km) distant. Present-day rain and snowmelt seep down and mix with this old water, become warmed to the boiling point, boil into steam, expand greatly, and find a way to escape upward. Most of the features occur where faults are common, making it easy for the heated groundwater and steam to return to the surface.

Share Button

Dead Indian Pass

Yellowstone Treasures tells you a lot about the history of the Yellowstone area. If you ever travel to the Northeast Entrance via the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, you’ll drive over Dead Indian Pass. You may wonder,

Why Was This Route Named Dead Indian Pass?

The marker at the summit of the Chief Joseph Highway attributes the name Dead Indian Pass to an incident in 1877 involving the Nez Perce tribe and the U.S. Army. Chief Joseph led his people that year from their home in Idaho, across Yellowstone and the Absaroka Range, then down through Clarks Fork Canyon, a route considered impassable by the pursuing army. One Nez Perce was killed in the area, but about seven hundred members of the tribe successfully evaded the troops. The group attempted to flee to Canada but was eventually forced to surrender to the army not far short of the Montana-Canada border. Where their route is known, an occasional marker now points out the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.

The Nez Perce story is commonly accepted as the source of the old name for this pass, but another conflict occurred near here the following year. Col. Nelson A. Miles surprised a camp of Bannock Indians, killing and capturing many of them. Also, one of the Bannocks was killed and buried here by Crow scouts. 1878 was the last year of troubles between Native American Indians and the U.S. government in and around the national park.

—from Yellowstone Treasures, updated fourth edition, pages 195–96

Share Button

An unlikely place for an article: “An Unlikely Look at Yellowstone’s Geysers”—and Fall Closure begins soon

The website Weather.com just came up with this beautiful collection of close-ups of the amazing variety of colors found around Yellowstone’s hot springs:

http://www.weather.com/news/science/unlikely-look-yellowstones-geysers-photos-20131030

Just now you have only through this coming Sunday, November 3, to take in all the treasures of the park, since all but the Gardiner to Northeast Entrance road will be closed as of Monday for the annual fall-into-winter break. This is when the park’s natural features and the animals, including two-legged ones who work there, get a break from the pressures of visitors.

Reopening to snowcoaches, snowmobiles, and skiers begins on December 15 this year (snow accumulation permitting), except for the East Entrance Road, which will open on December 22. The winter season continues until mid March. Then there’s another break for road plowing until late April 2014.

Share Button

Yellowstone reopens

In case anyone is looking for assurance that s/he can now visit Yellowstone for the tail end of its summer and fall season, I will pass on the official URL with details of what is and what is not open. Today all the national parks are allowed to restore their usual welcome to all visitors. Hooray!

http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/13091.htm

Share Button