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.

Yellowstone Park Historian Honored Anew!

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Montana State University has recently announced that two honorary doctorate degrees will be awarded on May 3rd in Bozeman. Recipients of honorary doctorate degrees at this year’s commencement will be Donna Shalala, the Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton in nursing, and Lee Whittlesey in history.

Among Lee’s many books about Yellowstone perhaps the most popular are Death in Yellowstone and Yellowstone Place Names (both in their second editions). His complete compendium of research on names, Wonderland Nomenclature, is enormously useful to researchers like me in learning the origins of former and present park names.

Lee, 63, has served YNP for over forty years in many capacities, including tour bus driver, ranger, and park archivist, becoming Yellowstone Park Historian a decade ago. He holds a master’s degree in history from MSU and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. He has already landed one honorary doctorate from Idaho State University.

I am proud to call Lee a personal friend, and his help toward my several Yellowstone projects has been invaluable.

Hats off to Lee!

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Sunset Magazine features Yellowstone and other western parks

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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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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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Montana’s wolves on National Public Radio

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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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Giantess Geyser erupts!

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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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Here’s our chance to listen to one of the foremost authorities on what’s under Yellowstone explain what is known about the volcano.

Jake Lowenstern, U.S. Geological Survey scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, will talk tomorrow evening, January 23rd, at 7 pm PST about the latest understanding of earthquakes, uplifting ground, and steam explosions in Yellowstone’s caldera.

He will also talk about the amazing geological history of Yellowstone National Park and how scientists are monitoring the area in order some day to be able to forecast eruptions.

Tune in to: online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/live.html

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Brits are getting into the “Supervolcano” act

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I try to read only a few of the dozens of reports that keep coming out in the media since the magma reservoir under Yellowstone was found to be larger than previously thought. But when there is new research or informed comment by a scientist, it’s worth looking at.

Today there is an interview in the old (since 1821) and widely read daily The Guardian, formerly The Manchester Guardian, giving Prof. Bill McGuire’s take on the story: Explaining Supervolcanoes: big, hot, and dangerous.

The comments—totaling 82 when I looked at them—are almost entirely the same crazy mix we get in the States.

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Yellowstone wolf interview with the number one expert

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As the New Year rolls out I am researching topics that interest me a lot to write about in posts for my blog and for one or two new nuggets of Yellowstone information for this website. This all takes a lot of time, so I don’t know just when I’ll be able to post these original articles.

In the meantime I found something about Yellowstone’s wolves that more people should read, so I’ll pass along the link. Doug Smith has been the number one guy who knows about and helps to manage the park’s wolves and has been on site since they were first introduced in 1995. Here are his very balanced answers to a Montana Pioneer interviewer’s questions.

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Holiday sale to end soon

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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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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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