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

All posts in News

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

Yellowstone Bison Get Room to Roam at Last

Categories: Flora and Fauna, News
Comments Off on Yellowstone Bison Get Room to Roam at Last

Bison herd in winter
Bison herd in winter

The Livingston Enterprise recently reported a rare coming-together of often contentious parties. Federal, state, and tribal agencies that manage Yellowstone Park bison have agreed to let bison stay in parts of Montana year-round. The members of the Interagency Bison Management Plan have verbally agreed to Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s decision to allow the big animals to roam outside the park in search of food on an estimated 400 square miles north and west of the park.

Searching through my past blog posts for what I’ve written before about bison, I can only find rare mentions of the biggest and perhaps most charismatic of Yellowstone’s “charismatic megafauna.” And even in the thirty-five or more “Nuggets” of park information I’ve supplied, somehow I’ve managed to skip writing about bison. These days, when you go to the park, you may not see bears or wolves, and even elk are not so common as they were when I started writing about the park. But bison?—oh, yes, you’ll see herds of them!

Wild animals are not even mentioned in the 1872 act of Congress that set aside “a certain Tract of Land lying near the Head-waters of the Yellowstone River” in “the Territories of Montana and Wyoming.” Regulations were to be set up for the preservation of “timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders,” and “wanton destruction of the fish and game” was frowned upon. That animals were not mentioned in the Organic Act does not surprise me, since in the 1870s there were still millions of bison in the U.S. West, and other wild animals were everywhere, too. What need was there to preserve them?

The fate of the bison illustrates probably the most grievous case of man’s wanton destruction of a natural resource in America’s history. Not only did hunters nearly eradicate the bison during the last decades of the 19th century, but the slaughter was actually encouraged by the government to suppress the Native American Indians who depended upon them.

During the 20th century, different efforts to bring bison back to Yellowstone met with varying success, but now there are close to 5,000 of them in and near the park. This is really too many to be manageable in the parts of the park where they prefer to graze. In recent decades the question of whether they can transmit brucellosis to domestic cattle has greatly complicated the scene and caused major strife between the National Park Service and other interested agencies. Brucellosis is a disease that can cause a pregnant cow to abort her calf, understandably a concern for Montana ranchers. But no cases of the disease being transmitted from bison to cattle have ever been documented, and besides, elk can also carry brucellosis.

Since 2000, wandering bison have sometimes been hazed back into the park in wintertime. Some have been quarantined and others relocated to Indian reservations. With this spring’s new regulation, the iconic animal that appeared on the “buffalo nickel” for decades has a better chance to survive severe winters.

I must issue a word of warning, though: more people are injured in Yellowstone by bison than by any other animal. Lately visitors are being injured and even killed while taking so-called selfies. Bison look placid but are NOT tame and can run very fast. Stay at least 25 yards away—unless, while driving, you are caught in a “bison jam.” This happens especially in Hayden Valley, where the animals frequently cross the highway. In that case, stay in your car and wait patiently!

Share Button

Great bike-riding opportunity this month!

Categories: News, Trip planning
Comments Off on Great bike-riding opportunity this month!

Some of the plowed roads in Yellowstone are open for just a short time every year to bike riders. This great opportunity to enjoy the road from West Yellowstone to Mammoth car-free lasts until April 15th, when the other park roads gradually open to motorized vehicles. You can enjoy the quiet, the animals, and all the beauties of the northwest part of the park on two skinny wheels. Click here for all the details. Note that the road from Madison to Old Faithful is closed at this time for bear management.

The same privilege is offered by Glacier National Park in northern Montana, another paradise. But Going-to-the-Sun Highway requires really ambitious bike riders with good brakes!

Share Button

Plans for the Yellowstone grizzly

Categories: News, On the Web, Wildlife
Comments Off on Plans for the Yellowstone grizzly
Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone

Grizzly bears have been in the news in recent years. First, because human-bear conflicts have been more numerous, including a total of six deaths of people since 2010. Managing these conflicts and the bear predation on cattle means about twenty grizzlies are intentionally killed or removed to zoos per year (see this database if you are interested). In 2016 the news is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take them off the Endangered Species list by the end of the year. The National Park Service put together an informative page about the history of efforts to help the Yellowstone-area grizzly recover, including listing it and delisting it, plus explaining how to minimize encounters with bears and ensure your safety if you do accidentally come close to one. You can find the article here: “Grizzly Bears and the Endangered Species Act.” The most recent delisting was in 2007, but a court ruling overturned that and put them back on the threatened species list in 2009.

Here’s a quick list of safety points, courtesy of the NPS. When backcountry hiking, you can reduce the odds of being injured by a bear by following these five rules:

  1. Hike in groups of three or more people.
  2. Stay alert.
  3. Make noise in areas with poor visibility.
  4. Carry bear spray.
  5. Don’t run during encounters with bears.

The grizzly bear population has made a remarkable recovery, to about 700 individuals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. So why is delisting controversial? Some are worried about plans for hunting in the surrounding states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. For a March 20, 2016, article that quotes the state governors on the subject, see “US seeks end to Yellowstone grizzly protections” on the Explore Big Sky website.

Do you have an opinion on this subject? Isn’t this photo beautiful? Write your informed comment below.
—Editor Beth

Photo by Jim Peaco for the National Park Service, June 2005.

Share Button

Get a free copy of “Yellowstone Treasures”!

Categories: News
Comments Off on Get a free copy of “Yellowstone Treasures”!

Here’s your chance to get a free signed copy of my popular guidebook!

As a Goodreads author, my “Yellowstone Treasures” is eligible for their Giveaway program, which goes on from now through April 7th. Just go to:
this Goodreads link
and take a chance on receiving a free book. It will help you plan for your next trip to Yellowstone Park and enjoy the park to the utmost while you’re there.

Share Button

Happy birthday, Yellowstone!

Categories: News, On the Web, Through Early Yellowstone
Comments Off on Happy birthday, Yellowstone!

Share Button

Advance reader copies are here

Categories: News, Through Early Yellowstone
Comments Off on Advance reader copies are here

Through Early Yellowstone advance reader copyExciting news! The advance reader copies of Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis arrived at Granite Peak Publications last week. Now I can send them out to colleagues, potential reviewers, and our distributor, and they can find out what we have been working so hard on! While editor Janet Chapple’s research goes all the way back to 2002, my review of the manuscript began in December 2014. I helped Janet to shape it into its current form of eleven main selections and ten short excerpts or poems. Two prominent authors we unfortunately had to leave out to make a reader-friendly, reasonable-sized book were Ernest Thompson Seton, the famous writer of animal stories and Boy Scouts of America founder, and Sir Archibald Geikie, a nineteenth-century geologist. But the book includes delightful stories by skier Billy Hofer, Pulitzer-prize-winning author Ray Stannard Baker and artist Anne Bosworth Greene, among others.

One of the uses for this early version of the book is the American Booksellers Association Advance Access program. When you go into your local independent bookstore, have you ever noticed a monthly flyer with the Indie Next List? If you haven’t, pick it up some time. Each book is given a short but pithy and passionate review by one of the staff members at an independent bookstore. I am making eleven of these advance reader copies available to booksellers to peruse, read, consider for their stores, and we hope recommend for the Indie Next list.

We will definitely keep you posted on this site’s Reviews page when we do get a quotable comment.

—Editor Beth Chapple

Share Button

Review of National Parks Adventure 3D

Categories: News
Comments Off on Review of National Parks Adventure 3D

National Parks Adventure still with Muir and Roosevelt

Reenactment of John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt’s camping trip in Yosemite Valley to discuss the future of a National Park system.

Today I had the chance to preview National Parks Adventure 3D, a new IMAX movie that opens nationwide this month. Places to see it include the science museums of Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle, the aquariums of Chattanooga and Omaha, and the natural science museum in Houston. The giant-screen format is perfect for immersing oneself in awe-inspiring footage of various of the larger national parks, including Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, and Bryce Canyon. I can promise a gorgeous view of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone.

The songs to go with the wonderful colors and aerial views range from “Hallelujah” from the Shrek soundtrack to James Bay’s 2014 folk rock hit “Hold Back the River,” with, of course, “This Land is Your Land” as well. We also hear bird song, coyote howls, bear grunts, and running water.

According to ABC News, the filming lasted nine months and cost 12.5 million dollars. The narrator is Robert Redford. You can learn more at the film’s website.

But the movie is not only a compendium of beautiful sounds and images. There is a plot and plenty to admire as three adventure travelers climb and paddle in various parks. And the movie informs us about John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt, reenacting their historic three-day camping trip in the Yosemite Valley wilderness. It’s a fitting way to celebrate President’s Day weekend and this year’s centennial of establishing the National Park Service. I recommend you go and bring friends and family!

—Beth, Editor and Publisher

Photo credit: Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Barbara MacGillivray ©VisitTheUSA.com

Share Button

Over four million visitors enjoyed Yellowstone in 2015!

Categories: News
Comments Off on Over four million visitors enjoyed Yellowstone in 2015!

The National Park Service has announced that Yellowstone Park has just had another record year. Nearly 600,000 more people passed through the park’s five entrances in 2015 than in 2014, a total of 4,097,210.

As always, the West Entrance was the most popular, and more people visited in July than in any other month, with August and June just behind in numbers.

The NPS attributes this year’s popularity to lower gas prices, stepped-up marketing by Montana and Wyoming tourist bureaus, and the NPS’s own “Find Your Park” program. In addition, beginning last year, to encourage visitation, all families that have a fourth grade student may enter any national park without paying an entrance fee.

Share Button

Holiday sale ends Friday

Categories: News
Comments Off on Holiday sale ends Friday

holiday candle Time is running out to get Yellowstone Treasures at a 20% discount off the list price. That means you pay just $19.96 for an award-winning, 400-page guidebook packed with maps, historical information, a field guide to the animals and plants, and more! And we updated many things even in the 2015 second printing. This price beats Amazon.com. To get the discount, just enter “HolidaySale” in the Voucher box in the shopping cart when you tap or click this button:

Buy now!

But hurry, the sale ends this Friday, January 8, 2016, at midnight.

Editor and Publisher, Beth Chapple

Share Button

Update on Through Early Yellowstone

Categories: News, Through Early Yellowstone
Comments Off on Update on Through Early Yellowstone

Through Early Yellowstone cover

Janet Chapple’s early Yellowstone anthology, forthcoming June 2016

Janet’s next book will be published in time to celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. She has carefully selected and annotated travel stories from the first five decades of the park. The crown jewel of the book is the set of 1884 watercolors by Thomas H. Thomas, shown here for the first time outside Wales. We feature his image of Grand Prismatic Spring on the cover. Click on this picture for a larger image, and you can see two men and their horses standing close to the hot spring before any boardwalk was built.

There have been many steps along the way, beginning with Janet’s several years of research at historical societies, public and university libraries, and the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center Library. In 2014 Granite Peak Publications acquired the book and decided to issue it as a trade paperback. We sought feedback from friends and publishing experts, including sending out a survey that helped us switch from the tentative Magnificent Playground to the current title. The stories are told by active explorers and adventurers, so we wanted to express that in the subtitle, “Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis.” Our designer, Vicky Shea of Ponderosa Pine Design, is working on the second stage of page creation, altering image sizes and putting in the corrections that our proofreader found.

Already Amazon.com is offering pre-orders of the book. To find out more and browse the table of contents, go to the book’s web page, ThroughEarlyYellowstone.com.

Do you have questions for us about this new book? Be sure to comment below or use our contact form.

Warm wishes for the winter season,
Editor Beth Chapple

Share Button