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

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Current events in the greater Yellowstone area or relating to Janet Chapple’s travels.

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

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Keep calm and read on with IPG’s book sale

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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.

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Sixth edition e-book birthday!

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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.

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Yellowstone is closed until further notice

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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!

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An unusual geyser basin closure

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Steamboat Geyser runoff

Click for a larger image.

A heads-up for anyone traveling to Yellowstone this week: Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone closed on Monday October 7, 2019, to all visitors. The area closure includes the entire basin, entrance road, parking lot, and Norris Geyser Basin Museum. (The Norris Campground and the Museum of the National Park Ranger already closed for the season in September.) The closure is for paving at the junction. The announced closure is for just two days, but weather and other factors could easily extend it.

This picture shows how Steamboat Geyser’s runoff looks during a minor eruption. According to Geysertimes.org, it’s been six days since the last major eruption of Steamboat Geyser, so it’s well within the expected window for its next one. So that is annoying to geyser gazers, but of course this is one of the last possible weeks to do any construction before the winter snows come.

The photo of Steamboat Geyser’s prodigious runoff channel, Norris Geyser Basin, was taken by Beth Chapple on June 28, 2019.

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Yellowstone’s Fire Lookouts

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Today I spontaneously decided to check into the status of the fire lookout towers inside Yellowstone National Park, since the guidebook points out the ones on top of Mount Sheridan and Mount Washburn. Well, I was saddened to learn that the Mount Holmes fire lookout burned to the ground on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. The tower was built in 1931 and had historic value. A fire observer working in the Mount Washburn lookout tower spotted the lightning-caused fire. This first Yellowstone fire of 2019 means that the Mount Holmes Trail is closed until public safety can be assured. The Billings Gazette had one good story about the event, and National Parks Traveler had another.

If you’d like to learn more about the job of being a fire lookout in the park, I recommend this short Inside Yellowstone video on the National Park Service website.

—Editor and Publisher Beth Chapple

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Crystal Falls on Cascade Creek

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Crystal Falls Yellowstone

Crystal Falls from Uncle Toms Overlook on the Canyon’s South Rim


While visiting Uncle Tom’s Overlook to see Upper Falls, I was also looking at how far the reconstruction projects have gotten. I noticed the improvements to the walls, the ongoing construction of the viewpoint at the Brink of Upper Falls, and the new paved trail to Sunset Point, which had a colony of marmots to watch when I visited. (See the Yellowstone trail reconstruction in 2018 post for more about the plans and a nice map.)

But the most exciting aspect for me on my late June 2019 visit was seeing this waterfall. The description from the 2018 edition of Yellowstone Treasures goes like this: “little Crystal Falls across the canyon, obscured by branches” (p. 180). Well, granted, I did have to use binoculars and my camera’s zoom function to appreciate it. See below for how the description can still be called accurate. There is a trail to see this waterfall on Cascade Creek that pours down into the Yellowstone River, but the easiest way to reach it is temporarily off limits as construction crews use the parking lot to work on the Brink of Upper Falls viewpoint.

Enjoy! —Editor Beth Chapple

Crystal Falls in the trees

Look to the right when you are at Uncle Tom’s Point to see this waterfall.

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June 25 Book Event in Cody, Wyoming

Categories: News, Park environs, Through Early Yellowstone
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Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center

Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center in Gardiner, MT, is one of the institutions participating in the Collecting Yellowstone conference, June 24-29, 2019. Photo courtesy NPS.

Later this month Granite Peak Publications editor Beth Chapple will be traveling to Yellowstone National Park to do research for the next edition of Yellowstone Treasures. Here’s some of what she has planned.

The best part is I will be sharing our books at a fair that’s part of the Conversations on Collecting Yellowstone Conference, in Cody, WY, outside the East Entrance to the park. The Vendor Fair is both for the conference attendees and open to the public, so please let others know, and try to join us! The exhibitors will be art dealers, artists, booksellers, book publishers, and more. Here’s your chance to look at all things Yellowstone! Beforehand and after the conference I will be driving from Bozeman through the park. Looking forward to the drive on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway into Cody.

Collecting Yellowstone Fair

WHERE

Taggart’s Ballroom
Holiday Inn of Cody, next to Buffalo Bill Village
1701 Sheridan Ave, Cody, WY 82414

WHEN

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
1:30-5:20 pm

Here’s more about the conference, though registration is closed. With the upcoming sesquicentennial of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 2022 in mind, special collections librarians at Brigham Young University and the University of Wyoming have organized librarians, archivists, curators, collectors, vendors, and researchers who work with Yellowstone National Park materials to converse about areas of common interest, discuss concerns, look for opportunities and generally get to know their colleagues. As a result, the first conference on Collecting Yellowstone materials is underway!

The goal objectives of this conference is to bring together individuals/institutions with significant Yellowstone National Park materials to:

  • Learn about the various YNP collections across the United States
  • Become acquainted with their colleagues
  • Discuss collections, discovery, acquisition and related topics
  • Identify trends and issues that impact collections now and in the future
  • Connect with scholars actively involved in YNP research
  • Meet with collectors and vendors of Yellowstone’s vast history

Check back for a trip report and a conference report in July.

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Yellowstone trail reconstruction in 2018

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NPS Yellowstone Canyon Closures Map As this lovely map from the National Park Service website shows, the Canyon area is filled with construction projects that are going to improve safety and accessibility for people, and only some of them have been finished. The map is from October 11 and does not include the Uncle Tom’s Point project that was finished on October 20, 2018. (Tap or click the image for a larger version.) For example, the Brink of Upper Falls is closed for construction through the summer of 2019. And the portion of the North Rim Trail between Brink of the Lower Falls and Chittenden Bridge is still closed.

Here’s the good news: the Uncle Tom’s Point reconstruction that was completed on October 20 added new walkways and improved overlooks with views of Upper Falls. Canyon Overlook and Sunset Point are wheelchair-accessible, and you will now be able to walk the South Rim Trail to Chittenden Bridge in 0.87 miles (1.4 km).

There’s more to come for trails through Yellowstone National Park. Mount Washburn trails and trailheads closed for the season on July 12, 2018. They are reconstructing the trail and building a telecommunications structure at the historic Mount Washburn fire lookout. Also, on October 15 Fishing Bridge closed for construction, and more recently a boardwalk on Geyser Hill had to be closed due to activity underneath. On Twitter? Follow us (@GPPublications) and the park itself (@YellowstoneNPS) to keep informed about trail changes and improvements.

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Cycling through early Yellowstone in 1892

Categories: News, Through Early Yellowstone
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Gate of the Mountains Albert Hencke

The Gate of the Mountains by Albert Hencke (1865-1936), originally published in 1893 in Outing magazine. Click for a larger version.

This month Dave Iltis of Cycling Utah decided to reprint Janet Chapple’s annotated version of “Lenz’s World Tour Awheel” in its entirety in the late summer issue of their magazine, Cycling Utah / Cycling West. Cycling Utah has been providing cycling news, information and events in the western United States since 1993. Dave bought the book in the shop at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and decided that the charming adventure story deserves wide readership among bicycle riders. You can even get the whole magazine issue as a free download from that website.

Philadelphia-born Frank Lenz made his pioneering side trip through the then 20-year-old Yellowstone National Park as part of his solo round-the-world cycling journey. It took place in late August 1892, but even so he encountered snow. As he says:

I was congratulating myself upon having passed through the most uncomfortable portion of my trip when I espied it raining on the opposite side of the river, and soon the icy-cold spray reached me. When within half a mile of a government engineer’s camp, what was my surprise to see the rain change into snow. As it blew up quite strong. I made for the cook’s tent for shelter, and here for three hours I thawed out my fingers and feet, which were nearly frozen.

Lenz’s story is one of the highlights of our enjoyable anthology, Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis. Other highlights, according to Aaron Parrett’s Montana book roundup in Montana: The Magazine of Western History, include Nathaniel P. Langford’s 1871 “Wonders of the Yellowstone,” Margaret Andrews Allen’s “A Family Camp in Yellowstone Park” (1885) and the journalist Ray Stannard Baker’s “A Place of Marvels: Yellowstone Park As It Now Is” (1903). You can read this and other reviews to learn more.

If you are interested in the shoulder seasons for cycling in the park, see the National Park Service’s Spring & Fall Bicycling page.

—Beth Chapple, Editor and Publisher

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