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

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News you can use about traveling to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with kids or friends.

Map from the guidebook’s Mammoth to Norris road log

In the most recent edition of Yellowstone Treasures you’ll find this note: “Construction on the Norris to Mammoth road is scheduled to continue through 2018.” Here is the latest report on the construction.

Since June 11, the Norris to Mammoth road has been closed nightly from 10 pm to 7 am (excluding Saturday nights). The word is to expect 30-minute delays in the daytime when driving between Roaring Mountain (the magenta dot east of the road on this map) and the Indian Creek Campground (the tent icon down a short side road, almost opposite the Sheepeater Cliff picnic area). According to trip reports on the Facebook group Yellowstone Up Close and Personal, the daytime delays are usually not as long as 30 minutes.

The important news is that from September 10 (10 pm) to October 6 (7 am), this section of road will be closed to all traffic (day and night). During the closures, people will be able to detour over Dunraven Pass (between Tower Fall and Canyon).

Norris and Indian Creek Campgrounds, at opposite ends of the road segment, are remaining open during the season. During the road closure you will not be able to see Apollinaris Spring, nor Obsidian Cliff, nor will you be able to hike the Mount Holmes Trail. You can still hike the Bunsen Peak Trail from the north.

Remember to check the National Park Service’s Park Roads page before you head out.

CREDIT: Linton Brown revised this map for Yellowstone Treasures, Updated Fifth Edition (2017). You can find it on page 277.

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This quote by lbrock21 accompanied a five-star Amazon review of the Kindle e-book on August 25, 2014. Readers are finding several advantages to getting a travel guide in electronic format, including saving weight while traveling. We released the updated fifth edition of Yellowstone Treasures in three e-book formats on June 30, 2017: ePub, Kindle, and PDF. All three offer live links to other parts of the book and sites on the Web, along with helpful full-color maps. Many e-book stores also offer the opportunity to get a free sample.
Yellowstone Treasures 5th edition cover

Readers find both the list of maps in the Table of Contents and the “54 Recommended Short Walks in Yellowstone” table to be handy, because they are organized by road log section in the same order as the guidebook. For example, if you find yourself at Canyon, you can see that all seven recommended walks on the chart can be found on the map on page 179 (a map completely revised for 2017).

Because the new Yellowstone Treasures ePub and Kindle versions have text that flows differently on every e-reader, they benefit from fully hyperlinked indexes that will get you to each topic or image. A quirk of the ePub is that text flow works best in portrait view for this e-book.

The PDF, on the other hand, retains the page numbering of the print book, so you can find topics by page number. Links go from the text nearby, not the page numbers. Look for the hand cursor. For example, on page 318 it says “a hydrothermal explosion such as the one that formed West Thumb Bay (see pages 138-39).” You can either put 138 into the page search box at the top (in Adobe Reader, for example) or click/tap on the words “West Thumb Bay” to get to the same place, where Janet explains how it’s a small caldera.

Here are a couple of tips that will help you get around with Yellowstone Treasures on different e-readers. In the ePub on the iPad, you can double-tap on an image or map to enlarge it. On the Kindle or Kindle app for iPad instead, you spread two fingers apart to zoom in, and then tap the x in the corner to close the image and continue.

As Ann Kristin Lindaas wrote us in April 2016 from Norway,

“I have already bought the print book and I really enjoy it. Essential for planning my days in Yellowstone! I will be traveling the US for about a month in September and I’m hoping to bring electronic versions of most of the books I’ve bought.”

Here’s to enjoying books in whatever form you choose! Cordially, Beth Chapple, editor and publisher.

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What happened to Yellowstone Treasures’ recommended trails?

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What happened to the number of trails we recommend between the fourth and fifth editions of Yellowstone Treasures?

Between publication of our fourth edition in 2013 and fifth edition in 2017, the number of recommended hiking trails in our short walks table (pages 366 to 368) shrank from fifty-six trails to fifty-four. Here’s what happened in the interim.

First, the good news: We now recommend one formerly omitted trail; the access to it reopened after a construction project was completed. This is the level Fairy Falls and Imperial Geyser Trail, about 6.4 miles round trip, described on page 67. Two projects completed just last month (July 2017) add to the lure of this trail. A large new parking lot makes the trail accessible to more people. Even better, a side trail with steps now leads steeply up the hill above the incredible Grand Prismatic Spring for a view almost equal to those you see in pictures taken from the air.

Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls tumbles off the Madison Plateau, by James St. John, August 5, 2012, Flickr
Click or tap for a much larger version

The three trails no longer on our recommended list are: from the Old Faithful Village area, part of the Mallard Lake Trail; from the West Thumb to Fishing Bridge segment, Lakeshore Trail, east segment; and from the Mammoth Junction to Norris Junction road segment, the Superintendent’s Campground Road Trail. I’ll explain why these are no longer in our trails table.

Until a few years ago, one could hike the Mallard Lake Trail for a short distance to see some hot pools and mud pots called the Pipeline Group, named for a former pipeline that ran in the area. Now those features are closed off to hikers.

The part of the Lakeshore Trail that led east from the meadow below Lake Lodge to Fishing Bridge is no longer maintained. And the Superintendent’s Campground Road from the Indian Creek Campground is also now closed off by park administration.

This leaves us with only fifty-four shorter trails to recommend. Maybe if you stayed all summer, you could do them all. . . .

Please be aware that some trails on both rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are currently under construction. When you are at the Canyon Visitor Center be sure to ask which trails are open.

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“Stop the Car”

Categories: Park environs, Trip planning
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Here is an entertaining link to a Yellowstone Insider post I am happy to pass on.

I did not know about this place with the unusual name and will surely try to stop there when I pass through Silver Gate to enter the park through the Northeast Entrance next month.

The Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Scenic Byway are both beautiful ways to reach the newest entrance to Yellowstone. The former opened in 1936, and the latter was fully paved only in the 1990s.

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News about Yellowstone opening weekend

Categories: News, On the Web, Science, Trip planning
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I.
Today is the first day you can drive into the park from the North or East Entrance. What’s more, those of us stuck at home can now get predictions of the daytime eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser on the NPS website.

But, if you are anything like me, you are mostly celebrating that the time for your summer trip to this wonderful park is drawing nearer. Just one thing that may give us pause as we contemplate the sights we are anticipating seeing: the crowds are likely to be amazingly large.

Here are links to a University of Montana report (2.7 MB pdf file) on 2016 crowding in that state’s two national parks and a shorter summary of the report, emphasizing Yellowstone, by Sean Reichard of YellowstoneInsider.com.

II.
If you should happen to be one of the people driving into Yellowstone this weekend, you may want to take part in tomorrow’s Earth Day Walk for Science at Old Faithful. This echoes the Washington, DC, Walk for Science. As an ever-curious non-scientist, if I lived anywhere near the park, I would certainly want to participate in that.

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This Is When You Really Need “Yellowstone Treasures”

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Mud Volcano winter

Mud Volcano area in winter. As of today Yellowstone is still covered in snow; most travel by car starts April 21, 2017.

March—while you may still be wishing for spring—is a great month to plan a summer or fall trip to Yellowstone. Here are some ways that Yellowstone Treasures can help you plan, especially if you haven’t been to the park before.

First, if your time is going to be limited to two or three days, in the book’s introduction (pages 17 and 18) there’s a list of Best Sights. An enthusiastic Amazon.com customer last June wrote: “Ms. Chapple’s rating of one star for those sights that were ‘worth taking the time for,’ or two stars for those you ‘must see’ really helped us plan our two day stay. . . .” (But—if at all possible—I highly recommend that you stay a week or even more. You won’t regret it.)

Yellowstone has become so popular—with over 4.2 million visitors last year—that almost all the in-park cabin and hotel rooms are already booked. I have to blame this mostly on the large bus tours that book blocks of rooms a year or more ahead, knowing they can fill up their tours with no trouble. This leaves us individuals and families who plan later in the year with little recourse but to book rooms in gateway places like West Yellowstone, Moran, Cody, Cooke City, and Gardiner. You can, of course, book a space in campgrounds or in the only RV camping spot, if you are so inclined.

Fortunately, the gateway towns have lots of accommodations. You will find phone numbers and email addresses for the chambers of commerce of all the gateway towns in the back of YT, as well as how to contact the park concessionnaire, Xanterra (or Yellowstone Park Lodges). Also, see our Yellowstone Links for the chamber of commerce websites in those places. Online resources such as Booking.com can be a great help with finding rooms outside the park.

A chapter near the beginning of Yellowstone Treasures tells you all about the five different entrances to the park and what you’ll see on their approach roads. The bulk of the book (pages 38 to 301) is what you’ll use before you go, while you’re there, and for reference when you return home. It’s full of detailed maps made and kept up-to-date by my incomparable mapmaker, Linton A. Brown. Here is one from page 200 of the guidebook.
Yellowstone Treasures map

Happy planning!

Photo credit: Janet Chapple, 2012.

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Where Can I See Animals in Yellowstone Park?

Categories: Flora and Fauna, Trip planning, Wildlife
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Many visitors to Yellowstone go with the primary goal of seeing wild animals. And some go only to view the wolves of Lamar Valley with spotting scopes and binoculars.

Back before the first edition of Yellowstone Treasures was published, and thinking it might be helpful to such visitors using my guidebook, I worked with my mapmaker, Linton Brown, to place animal and bird icons in likely places on our fourteen maps that show the park’s roads. The idea for this came from my model, the Haynes Guides, which my family used when I was a child. Here’s a sample of the maps in Yellowstone Treasures.

Screen Shot Map 21sm

A critical but helpful Amazon.com reviewer, Benjamin Day, wrote in 2015: “ . . . your dinner hour is the dinner hour of the animals, and low light is the best time to see the extraordinary animals that live here.” He also suggested the guidebook could include “a driving tour along the Madison, or the Lamar Valley, or Hayden Valley, near sunset, when we experienced the most amazing Elk, Bison and Grizzly shows.”

The trouble is that Yellowstone is not a zoo and the charismatic megafauna (as some tongue-in-cheek naturalists have dubbed the big animals) may roam anywhere they choose. The vast majority of park territory is not near the roads, but I had seen animals without going into the backcountry during my many visits to the park. I asked Linton to put icons in those locations. Much later, I was amused when another reviewer commented how he had enjoyed using the guidebook, and said, “she even shows where the animals are”!

No guarantees, but using our maps may give you a better than average chance of fulfilling your dream of seeing bison and elk. With luck, you may even see bears, bighorn sheep—and my favorite, the beautiful pronghorn antelope.

Screen Shot_Pronghorn

In our fifth edition we cannot add driving tours for animal “shows,” as Mr. Day suggested. That would take pages and pages, and it’s already a big book. But we can direct you to use and enjoy our maps.

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Through British Eyes—Yellowstone, Summer 2016

Categories: Thermal features, Trip planning, Trip Reports
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In this special summer when record numbers are expected in all the nation’s parks due to the centennial of the National Park Service, gas prices are down somewhat, and many foreign tourists (especially those from China) are touring the U.S., a neighbor has sent me a perceptive account of her British friends’ June trip through Yellowstone. I think reading Annie’s comments about Yellowstone may be both entertaining and helpful to people visiting in the next two or three months, so I’m passing along some excerpts from the message she recently sent my neighbor. You’ll learn both the plusses and minuses of a 2016 summer visit!

Pictures here of Aurum Spring at Upper Geyser Basin and Naiad Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs are courtesy of Suzanne Cane, taken in 2013.

From Annie and Paul’s 2016 Trip Report

Our next National Park was Yellowstone, which you can enter by driving through The Grand Tetons and using the South Entrance. We have now visited so many parks that we wondered what Yellowstone could offer that would amaze us yet again.

[The morning after settling into their campsite] From past experience we know you have to go in the parks early so we headed in about 7 am, our aim being to get to the old Faithful Geyser, so named as it erupts more reliably than any other big geysers. At present it erupts roughly every 90 minutes. It expels anywhere between 4–8 thousand gallons of boiling water and reaches a height between 1–2 hundred feet. It is not the largest geyser in the park, but you are guaranteed to see it blow. We had around 40 minutes to wait so took a walk around Geyser Hill.
SC031_Aurum G_12in.copy Aurum Geyser’s pool on Geyser Hill “lays” uniform geyser eggs

It was a truly surreal experience; the Park has built boardwalks around the geysers, and walking around there is a strong smell of sulphur, which Paul hated. I felt it was rather healthy to inhale and clear the lungs. (Ed., Venus, Mars…) The pools vary in size and colour, some small with luminous turquoises and blues. The large ones can be almost obscured with steam, but the wind will momentarily clear it to show crystal clear water bubbling away. Then there are the mud pools which go gloop, gloop, gloop and really stink. We saw some small eruptions but nothing amazing. What was surprising was the number of flowers growing quite close to the geysers’ centres.

We headed back to Old Faithful, which was now due to erupt. The photographers had gathered but there is a large viewing area all around the geyser. There were several false alarms with little spouts of water and massive eruptions of steam, then suddenly she was off—huge column of water rising into the air followed by clouds of steam. It lasted for about 3 minutes and was truly impressive.

Leaving Old Faithful we drove slowly along the Yellowstone Lake, one of the world’s largest alpine lakes, its shores are volcanic beaches. To the east and southeast of the lakes are the wild and snowcapped Absaroka Range of mountains. Truly beautiful.

We wended our way back to camp and decided to treat ourselves to dinner out. We made enquiries at the office and they recommended Bar N Ranch for excellent steaks, quiet and good service. Just what we wanted. It was 10 minutes out of town and perfect. A large wooden lodge style building, we had a lovely table in the window looking out over fields to the pine forests in the distance and their tented camp site, which actually looked a bit like an Indian war army camp all in straight lines with US flags flying! However, the food was great, fresh salad, 9oz. fillet steak cooked medium rare, (not rare as in England which is raw in America) and nice vegetables, and a mellow glass of red wine. Perfect end to the day. [This restaurant is new to me—maybe I’ll get to sample it this summer!]

Next day we went into the park a bit later, which was a big mistake, crowds of people and difficulty parking at various view points. . . . [Driving north of Beryl Spring, between Madison and Norris,] we got stuck in a massive line of cars. We thought it was road works, slowly we crawled along until finally we got to an open clearing and found cars stopping all over the road to photograph bison, really!—hardly the most enchanting of animals and how many photos do you need? That put me in a bad mood as it seems so selfish.

[Unable to find parking at Norris Geyser Basin] we headed on around to Mammoth Hot Springs. Lots of car parks but very busy and we finally got into one and set off on the boardwalk. The hot springs here have created very strange rock formations like steps with boiling water running down them, large pools of iridescent green and blue, bubbling and steaming. . . . I walked higher and higher, and at the top you have an overlook of all the spectacular terraces.
P1050633_Naiad Spring Naiad Spring, about halfway up the stairs from the Mammoth Lower Terrace parking areas, became active in 2012.

Most of the geysers are in the Southern Loop. . . We headed in on day 3 at about 7 am and reached Biscuit and Black Sand Basin well before the crowds. It is really difficult to do justice to these geysers. One favourite was Excelsior Crater; it was completely covered in steam which also enveloped us, and as we reached the far side of the pool the wind cleared, the steam momentarily revealing the brilliant colours in the water, at the edges light turquoise getting darker and then deep blue in the centre, and really clear. Quite phenomenal. Grand Prismatic Spring was quite dramatic, as from a distance you can see the steam is coloured blue, mauve, red, pink and yellow. As you get nearer the steam swirls about you and it is a really eerie feeling. Unique and, yes, awesome!!

Yellowstone is a fantastic park, we gave it 5 days but really do need longer to explore it.

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Someone on the website Quora just asked about visiting Yellowstone in October, so here’s what I came up with while surfing the National Park Service website for Yellowstone:

Facilities open in October are:
Lake Hotel and Cabins to Oct. 9
Mammoth Hotel and Cabins to Oct. 10
Old Faithful: Snow Lodge and Cabins to Oct. 16; Inn to Oct. 9; Lodge and Cabins to Oct. 5

All campgrounds close in September, except the one at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is open all year.
Almost all roads are open until November 7; Dunraven Pass and Beartooth Pass close on October 11.

Since the weather always turns cold and snowy more and more during October, visitors need to be prepared to dress warmly and could need snow tires in some areas. All thermal areas and most wildlife can be seen (bears are just beginning to think about hibernating), but visitor center hours are limited, some dining facilities are closed, and ranger programs have already ceased in September.

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Great bike-riding opportunity this month!

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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!

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