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

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Tips for a great Yellowstone vacation

Categories: Park environs, Trip planning
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It’s almost Valentine’s Day and high time to make those reservations, if you are planning a trip to Yellowstone Park next summer. Already some of the lodgings may be sold out on the dates you need, but you still should be able to find some places available at the six possible lodging areas in the park. The best way to make bookings is to call the park concessionaire, Xanterra, at 866-439-7375 or 307-344-7311. Also, it may help to know that motels and hotels in the gateway communities do not sell out as early as in-park lodgings do.

Some years ago I came up with some tips for enjoying your Yellowstone vacation. I’ll put up the first five of those right now and more in the next post.
1. DO plan to camp or reserve lodgings in more than one place. A few nights in each of two to four locales will maximize what you’ll see and minimize driving time.
–BUT–
2. DON’T expect to see everything in one trip or visit too many different places. Allow time for the unexpected bison jam or to catch a second eruption of a phenomenal geyser.
3. Be prepared to do some walking. Going a mile or two away from any road, where you can get away from crowds, can be very enjoyable.
4. Include at least one area just outside the park in your itinerary: the Grand Tetons, Cody, Red Lodge, West Yellowstone, and the Gallatin Canyon are all good choices.
5. Know the Yellowstone seasons. At 7,000 to 8,000-foot elevations, the short spring does not come until sometime in May, and even then some roads may be blocked by snow. Autumn begins early in September, and winter is long! Bring layers of clothing but plenty of sunscreen.

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2009: A good year for Yellowstone and for “Yellowstone Treasures”

Categories: Trip planning
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Visitation to Yellowstone Park set a record of 3.29 million in 2009, despite the recession and last winter’s relatively low number of snow-time vacationers. According to the Billings Gazette (disclosure: that’s my hometown newspaper):

The previous record for visitation, 3.15 million people, was set in 2007. The numbers in 2009 were 7.5 percent above 2008’s 3.06 million visitors and 4.6 percent above 2007.
The increase in park visits could reflect free access on two summer weekends, attention from a new PBS television series on national parks and relatively low gasoline prices.

For the whole January 5th article, see: “Record number visited Yellowstone in 2009“.

Just for my own edification, I compared last year’s sales of Yellowstone Treasures with those of 2007 and 2008 and found that 41% more books were sold in 2009 than in 2007 and 38% more than in 2008. In addition to the factors mentioned in the Gazette article, I attribute that gratifying increase to a step-up in media publicity about the book and to word-of-mouth—especially when Amazon.com chose to include a copy of the guidebook in their sweepstakes week that offered a Yellowstone National Park tour and thousands of dollars of Canon photo equipment.

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Yellowstone driving: stuck behind the old guy

Categories: On the Web, Transportation
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I read this recently on an anonymous blog and was reminded of the only time in over fifty years of driving that I’ve ever been stopped for speeding. It was where park employees have a cross-walk from Old Faithful Village to their dorms. I was going 25 or 30 and it is marked down well below that. I was really embarrassed to be stopped, since I should certainly know better, but the law enforcement ranger let me go without a ticket. Here’s the full story from the blog.

As we were making our way out of the park, I ended up getting stuck behind an elderly gentlemen driving an old Land Rover. I’m not sure if was the man’s age or limitations of his vehicle but he was averaging 30-35 mph the whole way. The roads in parts of Yellowstone are narrow, curving passes (read: no passing lanes or clear views to pass for long stretches). I wanted to get back to the cabin in time for sunset so I was getting really frustrated that this guy was impeding my progress.
I finally had the opportunity to pass him and wanted to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, a park ranger passed me and clocked me going a wee bit over the speed limit. I saw him flip around and knew I’d been caught. I’ve never been pulled over for speeding before. I wondered if tickets cost more in national parks. The cop approached my car and I started apologizing profusely. Apparently, I’d been doing 58 in a 45. Doh!
I told him that I knew that I was speeding and explained that I’d been stuck behind the old guy for miles. He laughed and thanked me for my honesty. He took my license, registration, and proof of insurance back to his vehicle.
I don’t know if he can tell that I’ve never had a speeding ticket or been pulled over before. Or maybe he’d been stuck behind the old guy earlier in the day. But, either way, he came back to my car, handed me my stuff and told me to slow down. Pretty lucky, don’t you think?

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