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

All posts tagged Canyon

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The part of the Lakeshore Trail that led east from the meadow below Lake Lodge to Fishing Bridge is no longer maintained.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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Giving thanks nine ways

Categories: News
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male grouse display Yellowstone

Male dusky grouse displaying in Yellowstone National Park
(Click for larger image)

While Yellowstone has no wild turkey, there are several kinds of grouse and other similar birds in the back country. You might like this photo on Flickr by nature photographer Diana, of a female spruce grouse she saw at Dunraven Pass in the park.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and taking a cue from Janet’s Acknowledgments and Best Sights of Yellowstone pages in Yellowstone Treasures, Updated Fourth Edition, here are some of the people and places we are thankful for:

  1. Artist Point, an incomparable view of the Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
  2. our geology advisers, Bruno Giletti and Jo-Ann Sherwin, along with our other team members
  3. the Geyser Observation and Study Association and other supporting organizations
  4. Great Fountain Geyser, whose tall and exciting eruptions are safe to witness at close range
  5. Inspiration Point, with its outstanding view of Canyon colors
  6. Old Faithful Inn, the immense hundred-year-old log building that rivals its namesake geyser in beauty and interest
  7. the park rangers who protect Yellowstone and educate visitors
  8. the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center
  9. you, our readers, who have kept us going since 2002!

Photo credits: The dusky grouse is an NPS photo in the public domain.

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Vic Sawyer Builds Models of Yellowstone Hotels

Categories: History
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Our children and grandchildren are eagerly anticipating Santa Claus and his helpers, some of them hoping to get a dollhouse or a train set with wonderful buildings along the track. I’m a grandma who never got a dollhouse or a train set, but last summer I got to see a truly unique “dollhouse” being constructed and learn how it’s done.

As I was visiting with people who came by my author’s table in Old Faithful Inn last August, one especially interesting man who works at Old Faithful in the summer stopped by to talk. He told me he was the manager of the nearby Haynes Photo Shop, totally renovated last year by the Yellowstone Foundation. This historic building now showcases the photographic work of father and son, F. Jay and Jack Haynes, and informs visitors about the good works done by the Yellowstone Foundation.

My new friend’s name is Vic Sawyer, and he offered to show me the scale model he is building in a small shop set up in the Haynes Photo Shop’s back room. The model he is now working on is of the huge and elegant historic Canyon Hotel, built in 1911 but torn down by the owners, the Yellowstone Park Company, in 1959–60 to maximize their profit on the nearby recently built Canyon Village motel-like units. Since Vic has not been able to locate the plans for the Canyon Hotel, in 2014 he can only work from pictures and perhaps some verbal descriptions. Ironically, as of this past summer the Canyon Village units are being torn down and replaced by small lodges.

Vic Sawyer and model

Vic has a fabulous and unique hobby. He showed me pictures of the first model he built, that one of Lake Lodge. He has not yet settled on where he might exhibit these remarkable models, but his first one is now being stored by friends a long way from Yellowstone. For that model he made most of the furniture as it now looks in the real Lake Lodge, using masking tape painted with acrylic paints to look like leather upholstery. He found the tiniest possible incandescent lights and bits of clear plastic for windows.

He has not yet settled on where he might exhibit these remarkable models. His “dollhouses” are 1:300 to-scale models built of thin sheets of wood, and the furniture is of tiny bits of various wooden objects (like popsicle sticks, coffee stirrers, tooth picks, broom straws, and the tiniest twigs), then carefully painted. The Canyon Hotel model, he told me, will have LED lights.

Vic does beautiful, painstaking work, and I was delighted to meet him and get to see what he’s up to. I’m eager to see the completed Canyon Hotel and wonder when he will tackle Old Faithful Inn!

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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 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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Recommended walks in Yellowstone Park

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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Until the park reopens fully next April, we won’t be able to follow any of its wonderful trails except for those open to skiing and snowshoeing. But I have happy memories—as well as anticipation for my own future use—of walking wonderful Yellowstone trails in the summer season.

Yellowstone Treasures’ first edition (2002) listed 59 trails that I recommend, having walked all of them myself, most of them several times. But now in the fourth edition we’re down to 56, and here’s my chance to explain what happened to those three lost trails!

First, in the Canyon area, the trail from Artists’ Point east along the canyon’s south rim, where I’ve written (on page 182 in the new edition) that you can see “some of the most awe-inspiring sunset colors you will see anywhere, with the sky and canyon rivaling each other on a beautiful evening.” This trail is not maintained for casual walkers. The National Park Service warns hikers of uneven footing and steep drop-offs; it’s also narrow and sometimes slippery.

Next, the trail to the base of Tower Fall has proven so difficult to maintain over the years that it disappeared from my table of walks (pages 366 to 368) as early as the second edition of Yellowstone Treasures, which came out in 2005. The picture below shows Tower Fall from the easily accessible viewing platform.
Tower Fall

Most recently, I’ve had to remove a quiet, little-used, level road with many wildflowers and lovely mountain views that was formerly open to biking and walking, This was a two mile (in and out) route leaving the main road south of Swan Lake in the northwestern part of the park. It has been closed for public use for a year or two now and is only a service road.

For your information: The park will not reopen until December 15; from then on until early March there will be relatively limited access. Only snow coaches and snowmobiles may use the groomed roads. The one road that is plowed for cars and trucks goes from the North Entrance at Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance and on to Cooke City. Of course, winter is the best time to see wolves along that road, especially in the Lamar Valley.

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Yellowstone’s hotels will remain in good hands

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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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