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.

Updated Yellowstone snowmobile regulations now include a lottery

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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This winter for the first time snowmobilers can enter a lottery for unguided tours of the park. This is the time to enter the lottery. The National Park Service has announced that the “Non-Commercially Guide Snowmobile Access Program will allow up to four non-commercial ‘transportation events’ of up to five snowmobiles each to enter the park daily—one ‘event’ per day per over-snow entrance into the park.” This quote comes from the Snowgoer website.

If this is something you’ve always wanted to do—and it has not been allowed for the past several years—you’ll find all the details of entering the lottery at the NPS website.

There are other ways to enjoy the beauties of Yellowstone’s winter landscape: in guided snowmobile tours or in heated ten-passenger snow coaches. For my winter adventures in years past, see Winter in Yellowstone.

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Why not plan a fall trip to the park?

Categories: Flora and Fauna, Trip planning, Wildlife
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aspens in autumn

Aspens turn golden in the fall.

Does it make sense to visit Yellowstone in the autumn months? Of course! Fall is short but wonderful in Yellowstone National Park. The month of September and part of October make up Yellowstone’s autumn; because of the high altitude, after about mid October there are likely to be more snowy days than warm ones.

Autumn is when the bull elk are bugling their unearthly sounds to assert their dominance over the area (and over the cows), bears are coming to the lower altitudes to forage for the foods they need to gorge on before hibernation, and the aspen trees are turning golden. Best of all, the visitors have thinned out remarkably.

Planned road construction

But this year you really need to take two road closures into account when you plan your trip. It helps to look at the maps I link to at the bottom of this post to see how much of a detour you may need to take.

Road closure no. 1

The road linking Old Faithful with West Thumb and Grant Village will be closed for the season starting 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, so the bridge at Isa Lake can be removed and replaced.

This road closure will require visitors traveling between the South Entrance and Old Faithful or West Yellowstone to detour through Fishing Bridge Junction and Canyon, increasing the travel time by approximately two hours.

Despite the closure, visitors will still be able to drive south from Old Faithful as far as the trailhead to Lone Star Geyser and north from West Thumb Junction to access the DeLacy Creek trailhead.

Road closure no. 2

In addition, the road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris will be closed due to construction from 11 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, until 7 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30.

During this closure, travel between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris will require a detour through Tower Junction and Canyon, a drive of approximately 90 minutes. Visitors traveling between Mammoth Hot Springs and West Yellowstone should plan on the trip taking approximately two and a half hours.

See “Construction Work to Result in Yellowstone Road Closures after Labor Day” on the National Park Service website for more.
—Editor Beth

CREDIT: The photo is by Leslie Kilduff.

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Short hikes

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This is a great time of year to go hiking. Some delightful short hikes can be taken by going partway on a long backcountry trail. For example, start the Seven-Mile Hole Trail along Yellowstone Canyon’s north rim or head toward Point Sublime on the south rim. If you are interested in this one, take a look at the Canyon Area map.

Another idea is to start the Pebble Creek Trail. Park at the upstream end of Pebble Creek Campground (9.7 miles after the Northeast Entrance). Layers and layers of limestone about 350 million years old are exposed in cliffs in a lovely canyon. Look closely at the rock to see bits of tiny marine organisms.

For a fantastic view of Yellowstone Lake and a trail with some interesting small hydrothermal features and great wildflowers, take the Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail south from West Thumb Geyser Basin.

walks list in Yellowstone Treasures You can certainly find good sources for longer hikes, but author Janet Chapple believes there are lots of older people and also young families who want to do less ambitious walking and would like to know where the best hikes for them are. So she has put together a chart of “56 Recommended Short Walks in Yellowstone” starting on page 366. See the “How to Find Great Hikes in Yellowstone” nugget for more about that list and other possible hikes to choose among.

—Editor Beth Chapple

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What you can find in the guidebook

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Janet Chapple on Mount Washburn

Author Janet Chapple poses among wildflowers at the start of the Mount Washburn trail.

Are you planning your first big trip to Yellowstone National Park? With Yellowstone Treasures you can figure out the distances between various gateway towns and parts of the park, what time of year is the best time for you to visit, and where you should plan to stay. The book tells you all about the campgrounds and lodgings in the park, plus listing resources for exploring the national forest campgrounds and town motels on all sides of the park. There are also lists of what to see, recommended hikes, and helpful maps, all of which Janet describes in “The Features of Yellowstone Treasures.”

Once you are there, the road log format lets you figure out what you will come to just ahead—a picnic area, a hot spring, the chance to see bison, a waterfall—there are so many possibilities! Here’s an excerpt of the road log from the East Entrance to Fishing Bridge Junction. You get details about how strenuous a hike is, where to park, which mountains you can see at a particular viewpoint, and even how many picnic tables there are. Janet checked out every spot in the road guide and hiked on every trail she recommends, sometimes multiple times.

You may wonder, do I need to travel by car to use Yellowstone Treasures? Janet feels that even people who go through the park by bus would enjoy a copy of her book, both while in the park and afterward. Though they would not benefit from the mileage indications between points of interest, every other facet of the book should be useful, including maps, pictures, and planning aids.

—Editor Beth Chapple

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New Junior Ranger activity book

Categories: News, Trip planning
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Many of the national parks have a program that allows children ages 5-12 to become junior rangers by jotting down the animals and features they see in an activity book and attending ranger talks and walks. Now Yellowstone has just published a new one.

When planning to camp during your Yellowstone trip, you will find the chart of the 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone on page 365 of Yellowstone Treasures to be helpful. But keep in mind there are many more opportunities just outside the park, both private and public.

Beartooth Butte

Beartooth Butte

Six national forests either border Yellowstone National Park or are very nearby. In Shoshone National Forest, outside the East Entrance, there are 31 campgrounds. At the foot of Beartooth Butte lies crystal-clear Beartooth Lake. There you’ll find a campground with 21 sites, a picnic area, fishing, hiking trails, and a boat ramp. Shoshone was the first national forest in the United States. You can find out more and get a full-color visitor guide by calling 1-307-527-6241 or visiting the Shoshone National Forest website.

All the nearby national forests are clearly marked on the maps in the guidebook, and we include a phone directory for the ranger districts near the approach roads to the park.

—Editor Beth Chapple

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Yellowstone in social media and more

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From the Spring 2014 issue of Yellowstone Spring (published by the National Park Service and formerly called Yellowstone Today), you can learn a lot that’s useful for an upcoming trip to the park.

Yellowstone has stayed at the forefront in social media. Here are some addresses currently offered that you might like to follow:

twitter.com/YellowstoneNPS
twitter.com/GeyserNPS
www.facebook.com/YellowstoneNPS
www.youtube.com/YellowstoneNPS
www.flickr.com/photos/YellowstoneNPS
For predictions of Old Faithful Geyser’s eruptions whenever the park is open, follow @GeyserNPS on Twitter.
[And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter as well: @GPPublications –Ed.]

There are webcams you can watch at Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout.

The paper also has the following useful information that may affect your travel plans within the park. You can expect these construction delays:

1. From Gibbon River to Grizzly Lake: nightly closures from 11 pm to 7 am all summer; this section of road will be a fully closed from September 14 at 11:00 pm through September 30 at 7:00 am.

2. To replace the Isa Lake bridge, the road between West Thumb and Old Faithful will close for the season on September 2, 2014.

You can also download a PDF of the entire Yellowstone Spring 2014.

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National Park Week

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In my last post I left out the fact that this week is National Park Week. It runs from April 19th through the 27th. This year’s theme, National Park Week: Go Wild! gives parks an opportunity to showcase what makes them significant, special, or unique.

In addition, many of the parks are designating one day this week to the Junior Ranger Program, which encourages America’s youth to explore, protect, and learn about our National Parks. As far as I can ascertain, Yellowstone has not planned a Junior Ranger Day this year, probably because the park has just opened after the spring break of about six weeks and because schools in the area are in session.

However, you can learn how to take part in the Junior Ranger Program in Yellowstone when everything will be open later this spring—see my February 28th post for details about road closures and openings.Junior Ranger program badge

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Ten Great Tips for Enjoying Your Yellowstone Vacation

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My Wonderfully Helpful Ten Tips for an Outstanding Vacation in Yellowstone Park are available to you free if you send us your e-mail address. Besides the tips you will receive our *very* occasional newsletters. We will not disclose your address to any third parties.

Just enter your e-mail address at the right for this Yellowstone Treasures bonus!

Janet

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What to see and do near Canyon Village

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Yellowstone Canyon from Inspiration Point

Canyon colors from Inspiration Point

Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone? Here are some tips about what you can visit when you are in the right middle section of the figure 8 known as the Grand Loop Road. (See the main map to orient yourself.)

  • At the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, marvel at the world’s most spectacular combination of rainbow-colored canyon walls and breathtaking waterfalls.
  • For an unusual and uncrowded view into the Yellowstone River canyon across the river from the busy Tower Fall area, take the Specimen Ridge Trail from the Yellowstone River picnic area. You can see Calcite Springs and sometimes spy osprey or peregrine falcon nests in the canyon.
  • Horses are available at Canyon, Mammoth, and Tower-Roosevelt Junctions, for hire from the park concessionaire.
  • Opened at the end of August 2006, the beautifully upgraded Canyon Visitor Center displays the volcanic source of Yellowstone’s wonders in ways that all can understand. Exhibits about the caldera eruptions, subsequent lava flows, glacial effects, and earthquakes bring you up to date on scientific knowledge about the park’s geology. Don’t miss it when you visit the Canyon area!

There’s more about what to see and do at and in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone Treasures, fourth edition, pages 179-188. Here is the Canyon Area: Village and Falls map from that section of the guidebook.

–Editor and webmaster, Beth Chapple

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