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

All posts tagged geysers

Grand GeyserNot having traveled with children in the park for a great many years, I learned a couple of things new to me that might be useful for other parents and grandparents to know about. Stuffed animal toys that Xanterra places in hotel rooms and that I have always pushed out of the way to make room for my own stuff are—not surprisingly—a magnet for little ones. My granddaughter Lexi ended the visit the proud owner of a cuddly bison and an even cuddlier black bear!

Be forewarned that the hotels no longer provide cots in your room for kids. But they are happy to loan you some bedding, so we made nests for Lexi on the floor—and she was out like a light in two minutes each night after crawling in with her animals.

One of our most delightful shared experiences was our geyser day at Upper Geyser Basin. Starting by going to the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center at 8:00 am to copy down the predictions for six major geysers, we set out after breakfast to catch the Grand Geyser eruption, predicted to erupt within about one-and-one-half hours of 10:40 am. Lexi did not complain at all about the wait, and when Grand accommodated us at 11:20 (above) and again with a second beautiful burst at 11:37, she was every bit as thrilled as the other hundred or so visitors watching it.

We went on to visit the wonderful pools and formations beyond Grand and were just in time to catch the Riverside Geyser eruption a little after 1:00 pm. Then our party split into two, and, fortuitously, Suzanne, David, and I caught Grotto Fountain and Grotto Geysers erupting on our way to see Punch Bowl Spring and Black Sand Pool. Returning from that extension of the trail, there was Daisy Geyser erupting as we came back to it! Not to be outdone, Beehive’s Indicator was going before we got back to the Inn, and we were able to see the whole Beehive Geyser eruption. Then, for “dessert,” Old Faithful joined the display not long afterwards. What a geyser day!

2013

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Yellowstone annual trip report, 2013

Categories: Geysers, News, Trip Reports
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Beehive Geyser, YellowstoneToday I feel like raving about the delights of getting together with family and friends in Yellowstone. I returned about a week ago from a two-week trip that I had been planning (as always) for many months.

My excellent companions for the two-day drive to the park and during my stay were colleague Suzanne Cane and her husband David Cane. Suzanne and I worked together for six years to turn out our translation of a travelogue about Yellowstone written by 1883 Belgian visitor Jules Leclercq. You can read about our book, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, in the Amazon.com entry for the book. Both the Canes took tremendous numbers of pictures, including this one of Beehive Geyser.

In addition to David and Suzanne, I was blessed by having two of my daughters, Beth and Karen, and my granddaughter Lexi with me for a few days. At six years old, Lexi is the perfect age to begin what I hope will be her lifetime attraction to and interest in Yellowstone and environs. She participated eagerly in all our walks and expeditions to see many of my favorite places, and was thrilled by Old Faithful and Grand Geyser eruptions. And one of my favorite visual memories is of watching Beth and Lexi and David skipping hand-in-hand down a path. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a grown man skip!

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Lots of excitement among geyser gazers—Morning Geyser is erupting!

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Here is something I can only hope will keep happening until I arrive at Old Faithful on June 21st. Rare and phenomenal eruptions of Morning Geyser have been taking place quite frequently since March. Eruptions can go as high as 200 feet, and, best of all, it occasionally erupts in concert with its close but more frequent neighbor Fountain Geyser.

This Fountain Paint Pot area geyser had not erupted since 1994. Its eruptions seem to be somehow tied to those of its close neighbor Fountain Geyser, and geyser blogger Janet White provides us with this advice:

  1. Check Geyser Times for the last known eruption of Fountain Geyser.
  2. Open that entry to find out the duration of that eruption. More than 40 minutes is more encouraging for a Morning Geyser eruption than less than 40 minutes.
  3. A period of 7.5-9.5 hours following the last eruption of Fountain Geyser becomes the forecasted window of opportunity.
  4. Arrive about 7 hours after the last eruption of Fountain Geyser and be prepared to wait a few hours.

More information and Janet’s excellent pictures are at: http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2013/06/9th-known-dual-eruption-of-both-morning-fountain-geysers.

[9/13/13 update: Morning Geyser is still erupting quite frequently, but I did not manage to see it during my June visit to the park.]

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Spring begins in Yellowstone Park

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Hooray! Most of Yellowstone’s roads are open as of today [April 26, 2013], and you can even find places to have a meal. Besides that, the Old Faithful Geyser Webcam is beginning to show predictions of eruptions. However, there are no campgrounds, hotels, or cabins available until next week, except for the Mammoth Campground, which stays open all year.

Geyser gazers can begin their yearly vigils at such wonderful but unreliable geysers as Fan and Mortar, Oblong, Fountain, and—dare we hope?—Giant.
For the opening schedule of all facilities see:
Opening and Closing Dates of Facilities.
For webcams directed toward Old Faithful and elsewhere see: www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

 

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Call up for Old Faithful Geyser!

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Did you know you can not only see Old Faithful erupt on your computer screen but can call on your phone to learn when the next eruption is predicted to take place? Of course, cell phone use is iffy in the park, but Verizon phones seem to do better than most other types (and I have AT&T, which works in some parts of the park).

If you want to try it, call (307) 344-2751. You’ll get the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and then be instructed to dial “one” for the geyser prediction time. To watch the eruption on your computer, use: http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/oldfaithfulcam.htm.

Of course, when I’m in the park I’d rather know when Great Fountain or Grand Geyser is going to erupt, since those are my favorites. I’ll be going that way again in a couple of weeks. Counting the days!

August 2012

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During recent weeks I’ve been concentrating all my efforts on two long-term writing projects.

One job I’ve given myself this fall [2011] is determining what changes I want to make in the upcoming reprint of Yellowstone Treasures. People do not always know that everything is constantly changing in the park, from realigned stretches of road to new geysers that pop up and old ones that change their behavior. My goal is to keep the guidebook as up-to-date as possible with almost-yearly reprints and new editions about every four years.

The other time-consumer is polishing all the parts of another project I’ve been working on for about three years with a colleague. This one is a translation from the French of the account of a visit to Yellowstone in 1883 made by the prolific Belgian travel writer, Jules Leclercq. Getting this fascinating account published requires a lot of small changes to our manuscript in order to comply with the university press’s guidelines, along with preparing information to be used in promoting the book. It will be called Yellowstone, Land of Wonders: Promenade in North America’s National Park. But don’t hold your breath—it won’t be available for more than a year.

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At Old Faithful Village, 2010

Categories: News, Science, Thermal features, Trip planning
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Old Faitful visitor center

Old Faithful Visitor Education Center dedication, August 25, 2010

We were there when the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center was dedicated and opened on August 25th. A sizeable group of visitors and interested employees of the park attended. The ceremony began with a real mounted color guard presenting the flag and continued with short speeches by Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis (who will retire next month), NPS Director Jon Jarvis, and others important to the creation of the new building and its exhibits. It ended with lots of Yellowstone National Park pennant-waving and with the miracle of Old Faithful Geyser erupting just as keynote speaker, historian Paul Schullery, was concluding his inspirational remarks.

At one point Schullery asked for a show of hands of people who remembered the first visitor center (then called a ranger station and museum), razed in about 1970. Of course, I raised my hand, since the exhibits at that museum and the kind rangers who worked there are fond memories of the years I got to live nearby as a little girl.

The building itself is very roomy and quite impressive, with a long curved counter where rangers can answer your questions, an excellent bookstore, and a pair of exhibit rooms, dedicated to showing and explaining all the important aspects of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features. They cover the caldera, the rocks formed in it, the various types of thermal features and their characteristics, life forms found near them, discoveries of features under Yellowstone Lake, microorganisms, and possible similarities to other planets and their moons. The centerpiece of the main room is a life-forms diorama, and of the young scientists’ room, a model geyser that builds up to a small eruption about every nine minutes.

Old Faithful exhibit

“Life in Thermal Areas” exhibit at the visitor center

I was grouching before seeing it about the new museum being called an “education center,” thinking that people on vacation, especially schoolchildren, might not enjoy being told they are being educated. But I have to admit the curators have done an excellent job. Now—if only all those electronics can be kept operating!

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Good news for bicycle riders at Old Faithful

Categories: Transportation, Trip planning
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For those of us who live too far from Yellowstone to make it practical to take bikes along when we visit, there are now bikes for rent in Old Faithful Village. The concessionaire Xanterra announces that “the bike shop at Old Faithful Snow Lodge offers hybrid bikes for rent to help make your Yellowstone bike riding even more pleasant. Helmets, racks, bike trains, trailers, jackets, gloves, hip packs, are available for rent as well. Call the Bike Shop number for details.” Phone is: (307)545-4825.

What I’ve been wanting to do ever since walking five or six miles each day to see geysers has become more of a chore than a pleasure is to rent a bike to cover the distance from the settled part of Old Faithful out past predictable Castle, Daisy, and Riverside geysers to Fan and Mortar (which is erupting every few days so far this summer). Now it’s a possibility even if you arrive in an airplane or don’t want to put bikes on your car for a long road trip.
Here are some details: Every day between June 1st and September 30th this summer [2010] you can rent adult bikes for $8.00 an hour, $25.00 for a half day, or $35.00 for a full day, and child bikes for less. There are several pleasant places to bike from Old Faithful besides the Geyser Route Two that I write about in Yellowstone Treasures (pages 98-102). However, some rides would require putting bikes on a bike rack on your car unless you ride on the Grand Loop Road—which I don’t really recommend.

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Charrette for Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Village

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I thought I had a pretty good passive vocabulary. Then I came across the word charrette and hadn’t a clue what it meant. Out came the Merriam-Webster, but the word wasn’t there, so I tried my nine-pound Random House. Success! “A final, intensive effort to finish a project, especially an architectural design project, before a deadline.”

A five-day meeting this fall, which the organizers called a charrette, was about improving visitor experience in the Old Faithful area—before the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016. Goals included finding ways to improve vehicular and pedestrian circulation and allowing for visitors to access and learn about the geothermal features and the area’s rich history. Led by Planning and Design Chief Eleanor Williams Clark and with a final report funded by the Yellowstone Park Foundation, it came up with some interesting plans. The new visitor center, scheduled to open on August 25, 2010, is already set to present an all-new educational experience about the geothermal features. The preliminary charrette report and pictures are described in “Envisioning a More Serene Old Faithful Area.”

One of the experts at the charrette noted that, as his group was watching “a particularly long and spectacular eruption of Castle Geyser,” they realized that most of the crowd standing around Old Faithful Geyser, “probably didn’t even know it was there.” He continued, “If people were more aware of the other equally awe-inspiring features to see in the area—both natural and cultural—we would have less of a surge of pedestrian and vehicle traffic flowing away immediately after each Old Faithful eruption. Visitors would significantly improve their experience by exploring what the Upper Geyser Basin truly has to offer.”

I’m excited about the prospect of a new look for the area that I almost think of as my second home. This summer I celebrated the seventieth year since I first spent a summer at Old Faithful; my husband and I gave a small party in the Inn. I remember visiting the small ranger station and museum that was in the same spot where the huge new visitor center is now being completed. I am happy to think that many other people will be able to find and appreciate all the aspects of the Old Faithful area, and not just dash in, watch an eruption of the famous geyser, and go off somewhere else.

2009

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