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

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Having returned from my 2019 winter trip to Yellowstone about a week ago, I’m still visualizing the beautiful snow-covered landscapes I was recently privileged to pass through. And for a present-day Californian (but raised in Montana), it was a particular delight to watch it snow.

I realize that now, in my mid eighties, it is unlikely that I’ll go again in winter. As it happened, we were in the middle of the government shut-down, but, thanks to the concessionaire Xanterra, which covered the cost of grooming the roads as well as furnishing their usual pleasant rooms and good meals, we had no trouble getting around.

For potential visitors a little or a lot younger, I would still highly recommend that you go! The friends who joined me were able to handle the snowy trails around Upper Geyser Basin and Fountain Paint Pots.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel with snowcoaches in winter

This was my fifth trip there in winter. Incidentally, I’ve been asked how many times I’ve been to Yellowstone altogether, and it must be in the dozens of times by now.

You need to leave your car in Mammoth. That’s where you cease to encounter plowed roads, since the park has a policy of simply grooming the other snowy roads, making them suitable only for snowcoaches, snowmobiles, and a few cross-country skiers. If you don’t know what a snowcoach is, take a look at this picture from 2012. Rather than the triangular tracks we used to ride on, the coaches now have very large, low pressure tires. The ride is quite smooth.

Phone numbers for Xanterra are (866) 439-7375 and (307) 344-7311. You would have to be extra lucky to find available rooms between now and winter closure, this year on March 3rd, but think about planning way ahead for next winter.
Keep in mind that you can’t see all the park in winter—except maybe on skis. The groomed roads are limited to Mammoth to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon, and West Yellowstone to Norris. They do try to keep the road from Mammoth out the Northeast Entrance to Cooke City plowed. Here is the link to the map showing what roads are plowed, groomed, and closed: https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm.

I can’t resist crowing a bit: the snowcoach drivers and other Xanterra personnel were quick to let me know that they use and treasure my guidebook, Yellowstone Treasures, now in its fifth edition. In fact, when I sat behind the driver in one coach, he admitted to being a little nervous that he might get something wrong in his commentary. (He was superbly capable.) At the end of our trip, but before I left the snowcoach, he asked a colleague to pass the bound copy of the book (the one that Xanterra drivers share and use regularly), through the driver’s window for me to sign. I had never before seen a copy with a library-type binding!

—Author Janet Chapple

Photo credit: Jim Peaco, National Park Service, December 12, 2012.

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Where to get Yellowstone Treasures this month

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Until recently, two of the most popular places for you to buy a copy of Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park were inside the park itself and from Amazon.com. But this year Yellowstone Forever has apparently made the decision (temporarily, we hope!) not to carry any guidebook they don’t publish themselves. The admirable nonprofit runs ten stores in the park, including a fairly big one at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and one at the Bozeman Airport. While you might look to snag a copy of our guidebook, with its sights arranged by road, when you first arrive in the park, the Yellowstone Forever stores don’t currently seem to stock any of the big guidebooks, perhaps to avoid appearing to favor one publisher over another.

Also, Amazon is having problems this week with distribution. Alhough they recently placed a large order from our distributor, yesterday the print book listing at Amazon read “Temporarily out of stock,” and today the message was “In stock on July 10, 2018.” (If you’d like the Kindle version, you can still buy that.) This Publishers Weekly article explains that Amazon is having trouble managing the truck deliveries from suppliers to their warehouses. And one reason for that might be their preparations for “Prime Day,” which is when Amazon Prime members see lower prices on many products. Prime Day is supposed to start at midday on July 16 this year.

Our advice to you is to buy a copy before you go. If you want it right away you have plenty of options:

  1. Find an independent bookstore (see Indiebound) and shop locally, buy from them online, or find one on your way to the park. One charming store is Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana.
  2. Try Barnes & Noble, again either in person at a store convenient to you, or online. They often discount the price.
  3. Order right from this website at our bookstore. Our service is quite fast, and of course then you are supporting the publisher directly. We also offer 20% off when you buy two or more.
  4. Contact our distributor Independent Publishers Group, either online or by calling 1-800-888-4741. Best for trade buyers or when you want multiple copies.

I’ll leave you with a thought from reader Robert D. Rice, who wrote in his 5-star Amazon review on May 15, 2018: “Best guidebook I have ever read. No ambiguities, the descriptions and directions are very detailed. So many options available at every location I wish I had time to do it all. I love the focus on geology and I will enter Yellowstone almost like an old hand having studied this amazing book.”

Enjoy the park!
—Beth Chapple, Editor and Publisher

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P.S. to my tribute to Lee Whittlesey

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Sorry to say, I *did* leave out at least one of Lee’s books about Yellowstone in my tribute to him. In 2007 he published Storytelling in Yellowstone: Horse and Buggy Tour Guides, a great contribution to lovers of the park. The book contributes a lot to our knowledge of the men who spread their expertise—usually gained from long experience and exploration—to visitors they led around the geyser basins or escorted around the park.

Reviewing just now the “Bibliographic Essay” of this book, I am proud to come across these sentences: “Yellowstone guidebooks (the first one appeared in 1873) are legion. Janet Chapple’s Yellowstone Treasures (Providence: Granite Peak Publications, 2002) is my recent favorite in this category.

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Yellowstone Treasures named finalist in two book award contests

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Big news! On March 14, 2018, the Independent Book Publishers Association announced that Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park, updated fifth edition (2017) is a finalist in the 30th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards in the travel category. This is a true honor, since finalist status with IBPA means the book will receive either a Gold or a Silver medal. The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards recognize excellence in book editorial and design in 55 categories. See this year’s finalists on the IBPA Book Awards page.

Then on March 20 we learned that the popular guidebook has been recognized as a finalist in the 20th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, too! The Foreword Reviews editorial team selected their finalists from more than 2,000 individual titles spread across 65 genres. The complete list of finalists for the Foreword INDIES awards can be found at: https://www.forewordreviews.com/awards/finalists/2017/. Winners are now being decided by a panel of judges across the country, reflecting Foreword’s readership of booksellers and librarians.

We’re glad the new cover, 65 new color photos, and updates to the geyser and wildlife viewing information have captured both IBPA’s and Foreword’s attention again this year.

Stay tuned. Winners of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards will be announced during Publishing University in Austin, Texas, on April 6, 2018; the Foreword INDIES winners will be announced on June 15, 2018.

Read the full news release in the media kit or learn about our books’ previous awards.

—Editor and publisher, Beth Chapple

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Unique experiences in the park

Categories: Through Early Yellowstone, Trip Reports
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Mud Volcano winter

Mud Volcano area in winter (2012)

While everyone knows that visitation just keeps increasing in Yellowstone, most of us are seeking ways to make our own trips unique and special to us. New Deputy Superintendent Pat Kenney says in the winter 2017 issue of Yellowstone Quarterly from Yellowstone Forever, “I have always enjoyed finding the subtler things that make our park special.” His example is “it is great to spend an evening up on Swan Lake Flats, listening to the snipe and watching the Milky Way appear.”

Author Janet Chapple aims to help with this quest, even including a list of “Less Well-known Yet Beautiful Places” on page 19 of the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook to help with your planning. As she writes in the preface, “Yellowstone means many things to many people: bears and bison, geysers and colorful pools, hikes and horseback rides, distant vistas and the stillness of the backcountry. It can also mean clear dry western air, spectacular sunsets, and night skies so full of stars you think you’re seeing to the end of the universe.”

Through Early Yellowstone compiles a variety of stories from long ago, and each travel writer has his or her own encounter with joy or amazement. Make sure to take advantage of our 25% off sale while it lasts, just through January 31, 2018.

May your 2018 include unique experiences in Yellowstone and our other national parks! You are welcome to share some highlights of your trips in the comments.
Beth Chapple, Editor and Publisher

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This quote by lbrock21 accompanied a five-star Amazon review of the Kindle e-book on August 25, 2014. Readers are finding several advantages to getting a travel guide in electronic format, including saving weight while traveling. We released the updated fifth edition of Yellowstone Treasures in three e-book formats on June 30, 2017: ePub, Kindle, and PDF. All three offer live links to other parts of the book and sites on the Web, along with helpful full-color maps. Many e-book stores also offer the opportunity to get a free sample.
Yellowstone Treasures 5th edition cover

Readers find both the list of maps in the Table of Contents and the “54 Recommended Short Walks in Yellowstone” table to be handy, because they are organized by road log section in the same order as the guidebook. For example, if you find yourself at Canyon, you can see that all seven recommended walks on the chart can be found on the map on page 179 (a map completely revised for 2017).

Because the new Yellowstone Treasures ePub and Kindle versions have text that flows differently on every e-reader, they benefit from fully hyperlinked indexes that will get you to each topic or image. A quirk of the ePub is that text flow works best in portrait view for this e-book.

The PDF, on the other hand, retains the page numbering of the print book, so you can find topics by page number. Links go from the text nearby, not the page numbers. Look for the hand cursor. For example, on page 318 it says “a hydrothermal explosion such as the one that formed West Thumb Bay (see pages 138-39).” You can either put 138 into the page search box at the top (in Adobe Reader, for example) or click/tap on the words “West Thumb Bay” to get to the same place, where Janet explains how it’s a small caldera.

Here are a couple of tips that will help you get around with Yellowstone Treasures on different e-readers. In the ePub on the iPad, you can double-tap on an image or map to enlarge it. On the Kindle or Kindle app for iPad instead, you spread two fingers apart to zoom in, and then tap the x in the corner to close the image and continue.

As Ann Kristin Lindaas wrote us in April 2016 from Norway,

“I have already bought the print book and I really enjoy it. Essential for planning my days in Yellowstone! I will be traveling the US for about a month in September and I’m hoping to bring electronic versions of most of the books I’ve bought.”

Here’s to enjoying books in whatever form you choose! Cordially, Beth Chapple, editor and publisher.

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What happened to Yellowstone Treasures’ recommended trails?

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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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Hear about Yellowstone Books in Montana

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Janet Chapple with First Edition Yellowstone Treasures

The author with the first edition of the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook in 2002


Author Janet Chapple is always happy to talk about Yellowstone National Park and her two books on the subject. She will be speaking at two bookstore events in Montana this month. June 14 is her appearance at This House of Books in Billings, a co-op store that has posted a nice image of a watercolor from Through Early Yellowstone to the blog on their website. On June 22 you can catch her presentation and book signing at Country Bookshelf in Bozeman. I will also be in attendance. You’ll find more details about both talks on our events page. Hope to see you there!

—Editor and Publisher, Beth Chapple

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This Is When You Really Need “Yellowstone Treasures”

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Mud Volcano winter

Mud Volcano area in winter. As of today Yellowstone is still covered in snow; most travel by car starts April 21, 2017.

March—while you may still be wishing for spring—is a great month to plan a summer or fall trip to Yellowstone. Here are some ways that Yellowstone Treasures can help you plan, especially if you haven’t been to the park before.

First, if your time is going to be limited to two or three days, in the book’s introduction (pages 17 and 18) there’s a list of Best Sights. An enthusiastic Amazon.com customer last June wrote: “Ms. Chapple’s rating of one star for those sights that were ‘worth taking the time for,’ or two stars for those you ‘must see’ really helped us plan our two day stay. . . .” (But—if at all possible—I highly recommend that you stay a week or even more. You won’t regret it.)

Yellowstone has become so popular—with over 4.2 million visitors last year—that almost all the in-park cabin and hotel rooms are already booked. I have to blame this mostly on the large bus tours that book blocks of rooms a year or more ahead, knowing they can fill up their tours with no trouble. This leaves us individuals and families who plan later in the year with little recourse but to book rooms in gateway places like West Yellowstone, Moran, Cody, Cooke City, and Gardiner. You can, of course, book a space in campgrounds or in the only RV camping spot, if you are so inclined.

Fortunately, the gateway towns have lots of accommodations. You will find phone numbers and email addresses for the chambers of commerce of all the gateway towns in the back of YT, as well as how to contact the park concessionnaire, Xanterra (or Yellowstone Park Lodges). Also, see our Yellowstone Links for the chamber of commerce websites in those places. Online resources such as Booking.com can be a great help with finding rooms outside the park.

A chapter near the beginning of Yellowstone Treasures tells you all about the five different entrances to the park and what you’ll see on their approach roads. The bulk of the book (pages 38 to 301) is what you’ll use before you go, while you’re there, and for reference when you return home. It’s full of detailed maps made and kept up-to-date by my incomparable mapmaker, Linton A. Brown. Here is one from page 200 of the guidebook.
Yellowstone Treasures map

Happy planning!

Photo credit: Janet Chapple, 2012.

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Celebrate 2016 with a discounted Yellowstone book!

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This year the U.S. national parks have been celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service all year. We have been encouraged to get out and enjoy our now 413 beautiful and historic national parks and monuments, via the Find Your Park campaign. And on August 25, 2016, Americans said “Happy Birthday, NPS!”

Through Early YellowstoneAs part of the centennial celebrations, Granite Peak Publications released Through Early Yellowstone: Adventuring by Bicycle, Covered Wagon, Foot, Horseback, and Skis in June. The story about Alice Parmelee Morris called “Yellowstone Trails Blazed by New York Woman” was originally published in the New York Times in 1918, two years after she made the trip. All ten of the other main stories, as well as the numerous poems and short excerpts in the anthology also took place before cars were allowed in the park, during 1870 to 1916.

With entertaining travel accounts and many watercolor paintings and engravings, the book is a wonderful way to inspire someone you know and allow armchair travel to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone Treasures coverNow is your chance to buy Through Early Yellowstone at 30 percent off or the very practical Yellowstone Treasures guidebook at 40 percent off. You can also get a holiday bundle with one of each book for just $40. Hurry, sale ends January 10, 2017.

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