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

Holiday sale to end soon

Holiday sale to end soon

The latest edition of the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook came out in August. Here’s a review of the previous edition:

“[A] magnificent catalogued resource to the full enjoyment of a huge national park and area known as Yellowstone. The author has extensive knowledge and experience in exploring the beauties of the area. . . . Altogether, Yellowstone Treasures fills an ongoing need for new generations of park explorers and appreciators. She has spent much of her life becoming better acquainted with the riches of the area and she is generously sharing her knowledge with this beautiful guidebook. It is not to be missed.”

—Nancy Lorraine, Midwest Book Review, May 2009
You can find more great comments on our Reviews and From Our Readers pages.

As we explained in our November 4 press release, the updated fourth edition boasts:

  • Color tabs to indicate the six sections of the park
  • A dozen new pictures
  • Fully revised maps that show recent road changes
  • Updated geological information to reflect current research on what’s under Yellowstone and how it works, along with new diagrams like the one excerpted below
  • A new glossary of geological and other scientific terms

Yellowstone Treasures fourth edition geological figure

Part of Figure 5. What’s under Yellowstone: Moving plates, mantle plumes, and the Yellowstone hot spot.

The comprehensive guidebook also comes as an e-book in EPUB, PDF, Nook, and Kindle formats.

To encourage sales during the time of the year when not so many people visit Yellowstone, we started a holiday sale in November. You can buy the guidebook for $19.96 plus shipping and handling, which is 20% off the list price. To get the 20% discount on the print book, be sure to type the promo code “Holidays” in the Voucher box of the shopping cart. But hurry, this coupon only lasts until midnight on January 20, 2014.

Best wishes,
Beth Chapple, Editor

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Traveling to Yellowstone in the winter

Silex Spring in winter

An island of rime-coated grass in Silex Spring’s runoff


For most of the winter, the West, East and South park entrances are closed to cars and trucks but open to skiers, snowshoers, snowcoaches, and snowmobiles. These winter activities are possible until early to mid March. Then most of the park is closed to everyone until various roads open between April 18 and 23. Call the Yellowstone National Park information office (307-344-2117) for current road information.

The one park road that is kept open all winter takes you from the North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance via Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt. See the Park Map.

Only two park lodgings are open in winter—the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Go to Xanterra’s Yellowstone site for more information and reservations.

Also, be sure to read Janet’s report about her Tauck tour of the park in 2012. The many photos give you an idea of what it is like this time of year.

Happy New Year!

Have a good journey,
Beth Chapple, Editor

Updated Jan. 2, 2014

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Heads-up about what’s under Yellowstone

Just to let you know: Yesterday Jake Lowenstern and colleagues at the USGS/Yellowstone Volcano Observatory issued a very clear and detailed explanation of just what the new research on the magma system shows and how it was obtained. To read it, you need to scroll down under the map on the YVO website:
Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

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Yellowstone magma “Supervolcano” news

The magma system or reservoir under Yellowstone is 2.5 times larger than previously known

Recent articles including “supervolcano” in the headline in the blogosphere and in media such as the New York Post shout “We’re probably doomed” and tell us of “a volcano that could wipe out U.S.” That gets people’s attention! The whirl of media activity is all due to research presented at last week’s American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting in San Francisco.

An interesting session and a poster presented by Drs. Robert Smith and Jamie Farrell have stirred up a lot of emotional response, as has a November earthquake swarm in the area. The more these things are discussed in the media, the less rational readers seem to become. Media loves sensation. Perhaps the scientists whose work inspired the sensationalism will soon issue something to calm people down. Meanwhile, I’ll do what I can with this post.

I attended Smith’s 15-minute session at AGU and read Farrell’s poster last week. I am not a scientist, but I know enough about Yellowstone and current research to say this: The size of the magma reservoir below Yellowstone tells us nothing about when it will explode. Just as a reminder, magma is liquid or molten rock, including any dissolved gases or crystals, found deep within Earth.

More and more researchers are using various methods and instruments (seismometers, strainmeters, geochemical analyses, geodesy, instruments measuring electrical conductivity, and so on) to study what is under Yellowstone and its surroundings. Let’s wish them well and not panic about a catastrophe that is very unlikely to happen within the lifetime of anyone who can read this.

What about those earthquakes? One useful conclusion reached by this recent research is: “A large earthquake at Yellowstone is much more likely than a volcano eruption,” according to Farrell.

ON THE WEB: Here is some reliable and interesting information:
1. University of Utah’s Seismology and Active Tectonics Research Group’s faculty member Bob Smith stated on December 5th that U. of Utah’s seismographs will “continue to monitor Yellowstone earthquakes and will provide additional information if the earthquake swarm activity increases.”

2. U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. Swarms of (usually small) earthquakes have been reported frequently over the years; they are detected by the USGS seismograph array in Yellowstone.

3. Phys.org’s article called “Study: Yellowstone magma much bigger than thought (Update).” A relevant quote serves to sum up my comments here: “For years, observers tracking earthquake swarms under Yellowstone have warned the caldera is overdue to erupt. Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isn’t enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption. ‘We do believe there will be another eruption, we just don’t know when,’ he said.”

ON THIS WEBSITE: For more about the quest to understand what’s under Yellowstone, be sure to read the nuggets called “The Yellowstone Supervolcano,” “The Yellowstone Hot Spot: History of the Science“, and “The Yellowstone Hot Spot: Modern Science“.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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