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

All posts tagged cabins

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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Janet Joan Orvis and Yellowstone bus

Yellowstone bus at Gallatin Camp way station, 1937. Janet is on the right, her sister Joan is in the center, and her cousin Judy on the left.


The summer of 2014 marks 75 years since author Janet Chapple first spent a summer season in Yellowstone. To celebrate, YellowstoneTreasures.com will serialize excerpts from her memoirs of her experiences from 1939 to 1942.

Living within sight of Old Faithful Geyser

Residing in Billings, Montana, my parents both made their livings as music teachers when I was a small child. In the summers they found jobs near Yellowstone Park, including managing the 320 Ranch in the Gallatin Canyon one year and working in the office of the Gallatin Gateway Inn another. Around 1937 and for either one or two summers, they ran the “Gallatin Camp” way station to service the park buses that brought Yellowstone visitors from Gallatin Gateway Inn to the West Entrance.

From looking through the Yellowstone Park Company payroll books held at Yellowstone’s archives, my sister Joan Orvis and I learned that my father, L. Worth Orvis, was employed as Assistant Transportation Agent for Old Faithful Inn in 1939, and that he advanced to be Transportation Agent in 1940. We were surprised to be reminded that we stayed at Old Faithful, not just in 1941, but also in 1942, when the war had begun to cut drastically into people’s summer vacation habits.

I cannot remember which events and impressions took place in which years, except that 1939 was quite different from the others. I believe we stayed in one of the tourist cabins that year in the group of them that were east and south of the ranger station/museum, long since torn down.

The main difference for us in 1939 was that that summer Mother (Margaret Inabnit Orvis) played in the Ladies’ Ensemble. More about that small musical group in the next post in this series . . . .


The full article “Celebrating an Old Faithful Area Seventieth Anniversary,” was published in August 2009 in The Geyser Gazer Sput, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 5-8.

Janet wrote a longer version of these memoirs at the instigation of Park Historian Lee Whittlesey, and they are now preserved in the library of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center in Gardiner, Montana.

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Yellowstone’s hotels will remain in good hands

Categories: Trip planning
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Good news arrived in my inbox first thing this morning [February 2013]! Xanterra Parks and Resorts will continue to manage the hotels, restaurants, and some activities in Yellowstone.

I have known the concessionaire contract was up for renewal but not exactly when a new one would be awarded. As a yearly (or oftener) visitor to the park, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Xanterra, and I find they keep getting better. Rooms are always clean and equipped as promised, restaurant food has been getting better, and their personnel is pleasant, helpful, and seems content to be working there. Many of the seasonal help return summer after summer.
Xanterra has also embarked on making the park greener, with recycling, serving locally obtained food products when possible, and other worthwhile projects. A major part of their new contract involves redevelopment of the dilapidating cabins at Canyon. Hooray!

An excellent article about Xanterra’s new contract by Ruffin Prevost appears at:
http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2013/02/park-service-chooses-xanterra-for-20year-yellowstone-concessions-contract/

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Just a couple more days

Categories: Bio, Park environs
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[2012] I’m about to take off for my favorite part of the world. But I want to tell you about another delightful place I’ll go and an experience I’ll have while traveling this month. The place is called East Rosebud Lake, where private cabins are clustered around a beautiful Montana mountain lake and a trail begins, taking you over the Beartooth Mountains to Cooke City on the edge of Yellowstone.

I have hiked only a part of the trail, but my grandfather Fred Inabnit hiked many times in those mountains even before there were real trails. He and hardy groups of hiker/climbers that he organized and led from southern Montana went as far as they could with horse-drawn wagons and later cars in the early 1900s. Then they backpacked, with what we’d now consider crude equipment, into the mountains for many days at a time. They must have subsisted mainly on the fish they caught, because they couldn’t buy freeze-dried meals in 1910!

One of Fred’s goals was to find a way to the top of Montana’s highest mountain, Granite Peak. He never made it himself, but some of his colleagues found a route that took them up there. However, when he died, a group of his friends successfully petitioned the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to name a mountain for him. So this brings me to what I’ll be doing on August 26th.

Two years ago I helped to rededicate and unveil the plaque that had been placed at the foot of Fred Inabnit’s mountain. The plaque was brought down and is now attached to a large boulder in the meadow near the East Rosebud Trailhead. This year the Forest Service has completed an interpretive sign to place next to the plaque, so of course, we need a little ceremony to unveil it! That’s what I’ll help to do next week. A wonderful excuse to stay a couple of days at the place my grandfather loved and called “a little bit of Switzerland” after his native country.

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People of color in the national parks

Categories: News
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Lamar Buffalo Ranch

Lamar Buffalo Ranch at sunset (2011)


Recently an online discussion has been taking place on the subject of the numerical imbalance of people of color in our national parks. This is an issue that has been on my mind for several years, but so far, I have not begun to understand why so few black and Hispanic folks visit Yellowstone. I wrote a comment on the “High Country News” online post by James Mills, who studied the question in some southwestern national parks this summer.

When I saw the interview with the very articulate and obviously dedicated black Yosemite ranger, Shelton Johnson, on the Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan TV series on the national parks in 2009, I thought this might help to draw people of color to the parks. According to Mills, Johnson wrote a letter after that series was aired that encouraged Oprah to go on her well-publicized camping trip to Yosemite.

In May 2010 I attended an independent publishers meeting, where I brought up the subject with two black women publishers I met at an informal gathering. I asked them what I could do or what could be done in general to encourage people to try the outdoor experience. Their suggestion was to get a famous black musician or athlete to set an example and publicize his or her trip in media that is popular with black people. We probably need to see many more trips like Oprah’s by many prominent and influential people of color over a period of time to begin to make a difference.
One person who commented about Mills’s post remarked that many people don’t like to camp. I can attest that, at least in Yellowstone, it is not necessary to camp to enjoy the park; there are cabins and hotels ranging in price from $30 to $235 a night—I stayed in the whole gamut of them this summer. At the top of this post is an early July sunset from our cabin at Lamar Buffalo Ranch ($30 per person per night).

I saw more black people in Yellowstone this summer than in former years—but not very many more. Mills mentions a program in the Tetons called the National Park Service Academy that “invites college students to visit the park on spring break, and thereby be exposed to many of the careers open to them in the National Park Service.” Much more of this sort of thing is needed. Perhaps city people just don’t know what it can do for them to spend some time in nature.

All Americans, as well as people from other countries who are able to travel, should feel welcome in our national parks and should be given the opportunity to appreciate what the parks have to offer us. Programs like the NPS Academy that Mills tells us about are surely a good idea. I can’t say how we should solve it, but discussing this problem is a step in the right direction.

More “debriefing” about what I saw and thought about on this summer’s Yellowstone trip will follow here soon.

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