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

All posts tagged Old Faithful

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone this spring or summer? The National Park Service and the park concessionaire Xanterra have made a few announcements lately. Changes afoot this spring and summer include delays in the opening dates for the hotel rooms and cabins, campgrounds that will be closed the entire season, and newly reservable campsites. Of course, the roads have not been plowed for wheeled vehicles yet. The first ones are due to open April 16, weather permitting. Always be sure to check the Park Roads page before you go.

Various lodges and cabins will open during May, but Old Faithful Inn rooms do not open until June 4, Grant Village lodge rooms not until June 18. Most of the restaurants and cafeterias in the park will still be limited to take-out rather than dining in. The gift shops will open on the same schedule as the lodging. See Xanterra’s update page on YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com for more.

Camping

Due to construction, three campgrounds will remain closed for all of 2021: Norris, Tower Fall, and Fishing Bridge RV Park. Here are the opening dates for the four campgrounds you can reserve through Xanterra:

  • Madison Campground – May 14
  • Canyon Campground – May 21
  • Bridge Bay Campground – June 11
  • Grant Village Campground – June 18

bighorn sheep

Bighorn rams at Slough Creek (click to enlarge)

In addition, at three of the seven campgrounds that NPS operates you will be able to make reservations up to six months in advance via Recreation.gov. These three are Mammoth, Slough Creek in the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley, and Pebble Creek Campground (sites 1-16) near the Northeast Entrance. Sites can be reserved starting on March 24, 2021. So our guidebook is wrong in saying the sites are nonreservable. This idea is not popular, since many working people do not have the luxury to plan that far in advance. But the advantage from the park service’s perspective is that perhaps fewer people will arrive unprepared with a place to spend the night.


Photo credits: Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley, NPS photo; Bighorn rams at Slough Creek, NPS photo taken by Peggy Olliff in February 2015, which you can find on page 204 of Yellowstone Treasures, updated sixth edition.

Late-season thoughts on long-lasting thermal features

Categories: Thermal features
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Another in the occasional series “My Favorite Hot Springs”

Black Sand Basin, showing Rainbow Pool and Sunset Lake. Click to enlarge!


In any piece I write about Yellowstone, it may be hazardous to say this or that is my favorite. Here is what I committed myself to when I wrote about Black Sand Basin—maybe because in my summer visits I always spend a few days at Old Faithful Village, very nearby. “Black Sand Basin has got to be my favorite easy walk,” I wrote. “In less than a mile of walking you can enjoy a welcoming geyser (Cliff Geyser), which may be erupting as you get out of your car, then Rainbow Pool and Sunset Lake to the north.” (See “Yellowstone gems we all own” for more.)

The above is still valid, but this week, daydreaming about being back in the park, I am mentally picturing the half-mile or so of mostly level walking needed to see all the features at West Thumb Geyser Basin. (There is a short stairway at the far end of the loop.) This walk is surely another favorite of mine but requires a drive of about 19 miles from Old Faithful. It is also a place where I lost track of my husband for about an hour during the last summer he was well enough to travel, but that’s another story.

West Thumb has a lot of the quintessential “bang for the buck.” It is a delightful place to spend an hour or so, not only for its thermal features but also for its beautiful view of Yellowstone Lake. In winter it is just as great a place for a stroll. Unfortunately, it lacks geysers—although Hillside Geyser was active here for a few years earlier this century. There is generous parking, restrooms, and a picnic area for summer lunches.

Starting out past the small information building, when you turn right at the walkway’s intersection, you’ll come to a pair of beautiful hot pools, which used to differ in color and apparent temperature, but in summer 2016 and perhaps before, they overflowed into each other. Other pools that are especially notable include Black Pool, which did used to appear black but became blue when it turned hotter (and even briefly erupted in 1991) and Abyss Pool, one of the park’s deepest, which performed as a geyser as recently as 1992.

All these pools are described and some are pictured in Yellowstone Treasures, fifth edition, pages 140 to 143. Scroll down on the Guidebook page to see what pages 138-39 look like, with a map of Yellowstone Lake’s West Thumb and a photo of Bluebell and Seismograph Pools.

Photo credit: Aerial view of Rainbow Pool and Sunset Lake in Black Sand Basin on Iron Spring Creek by Jim Peaco,
June 22, 2006. Available on the official Yellowstone National Park Flickr page.

Just for fun . . .

Categories: Geysers, On the Web
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I’m sharing my early afternoon thrill of tuning in to the Old Faithful Streaming Webcam at 1258 today, seeing that Beehive Geyser’s Indicator was spouting among the gorgeous colors of spring, and waiting only until 1305 for Beehive itself to erupt to its 150-to-200-foot glory, as it does once or twice a day.

Now that the park is open and predictions are posted, you can catch all the daylight eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser. There are also views from nine static webcams scattered around the park that you can look at by scrolling down below the map of Upper Geyser Basin to “Other Webcam Views. . . .”

News about Yellowstone opening weekend

Categories: News, On the Web, Science, Trip planning
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I.
Today is the first day you can drive into the park from the North or East Entrance. What’s more, those of us stuck at home can now get predictions of the daytime eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser on the NPS website.

But, if you are anything like me, you are mostly celebrating that the time for your summer trip to this wonderful park is drawing nearer. Just one thing that may give us pause as we contemplate the sights we are anticipating seeing: the crowds are likely to be amazingly large.

Here are links to a University of Montana report (2.7 MB pdf file) on 2016 crowding in that state’s two national parks and a shorter summary of the report, emphasizing Yellowstone, by Sean Reichard of YellowstoneInsider.com.

II.
If you should happen to be one of the people driving into Yellowstone this weekend, you may want to take part in tomorrow’s Earth Day Walk for Science at Old Faithful. This echoes the Washington, DC, Walk for Science. As an ever-curious non-scientist, if I lived anywhere near the park, I would certainly want to participate in that.

The “Haynes Guides” and “Yellowstone Treasures”

Categories: History
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Reading about a recent Haynes Foundation Grant to Montana State University has inspired me to write the story of how the Haynes Guides came to father Yellowstone Treasures.

 First: the connection

 Back at the end of the last century the director at the Haynes Foundation generously allowed me to use any quotes I wanted from the Haynes Guides in my new guidebook. Now the foundation has given a generous grant to fund scholarships to undergraduate students at Montana State University.

 F. Jay Haynes was the official photographer of Yellowstone Park in its early years. He and his son Jack Haynes owned photo shops in the park. Jack was also a photographer and earned a degree in geology before he returned to work in Yellowstone. They made a good living creating and selling photographs and postcards as well as guidebooks—as the grant announcement tells us, they “opened the wonder of Yellowstone National Park to generations worldwide.” Near the end of Jack’s life, having lost their only daughter at a young age, he and his wife Isabel created the Haynes Foundation to help deserving Montana students at the university (then called a college) in Bozeman.

haynesguidepic

My family used the Haynes Guide (then titled Haynes New Guide: The Complete Handbook of Yellowstone National Park) while living in the park for four summers, 1939 through 1942, and also during visits we made to the park in later years.

Fast forward about a half century to 1995, when a friend of mine named Bob English casually suggested we get together and update the Haynes Guide—last published in 1966. Bob had recently retired from his law practice, was looking for something to occupy his time, and surprised me months after that first suggestion by sending me fifty pages of the guide laboriously typed out on his computer.

 About then I was also thinking of doing something different, having spent all my adult life up to that time as a performer and teacher of cello in Rhode Island. I began investigating whether the type of guide I had in mind existed. A year or so later Bob dropped out of the project. However, I was hooked and began visiting Yellowstone at least once every summer. My husband Bruno Giletti was my “field assistant” and photographer as well as geological expert.

What I Adapted from F. Jay and Jack Haynes

 Here are a few of the ideas I took from the Haynes Guides, in addition to using the text in order to check what was the same and what had changed since 1966. Bob had eventually typed out the complete text, and I owned my own copy of the Guide. Now I own ten different copies, ranging from the 1898 edition to the last.

  • Old Faithful Geyser is shown on the cover.
  • The descriptive text segments begin at the most popular West Entrance and proceed to the other five entrances counterclockwise.
  • Features are located throughout the park with mileage indications.
  • Many maps have animal pictures on them indicating where you may see a black bear, a wolf, or a herd of bison.
  • A thorough index is supplied: the 1966 Haynes Guide has 22 pages of index for a 170–page book.
  • The father and son team published their guide for 70 years.

While Granite Peak Publications is unlikely to duplicate that longevity, we are in fact a mother-daughter team.

From the Desk of Janet Chapple

Categories: Bio, Janet Chapple's Other Writing, On the Web
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Personal Essay for University of Nebraska Press’s #FindYourPark Series

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

At the invitation of the publisher of the travelogue by Jules Leclercq that I translated with my colleague Suzanne Cane, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, I’ve recently written about my personal connection with Yellowstone National Park for their website.

Reflecting a lifetime association with the park—or, at least, a strong association during some of my very early years and then again since the age of sixty—I’ve written about my early memories of being there and why Yellowstone means so much to me that I continue to research and write about it during years when I might be taking it easy.

I hope my blog readers might be inspired to reward themselves with repeated visits to this richly fascinating and incomparable national treasure.

Photo credit: The image of the Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley is an NPS photo.

Giving thanks nine ways

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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.

Heads-up on summer road construction

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For anyone who’s planning a trip to Yellowstone in the next couple of months, the good news is that the Isa Lake bridge between Old Faithful Village and the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake is opening this Thursday, June 11, after total reconstruction. Landscaping projects will be ongoing until about September 10 causing some delays, but at least you will no longer have to take a big detour to go between those two popular points.

All summer, however, there will be delays up to 30 minutes between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Norris Campground. I’m going to try to avoid that stretch except for once during my time in the park (June 11 to 16).

The total revamp of the Gardiner area around the North Entrance Arch will also be going on for the indefinite future—that is, they are hoping to complete the first phase of it in time for the celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service on August 25, 2016. Here’s where to find more information about this project.

Current road information is available by phone: 307-344-2117.

Enjoying Geyser Eruptions, 1939 to Today

Categories: Bio, Geysers
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The countdown to my getting back to Yellowstone is down to seven days now, and the excitement grows! Anticipating seeing my favorite geysers and places and visiting with friends while I do it, I can hardly wait. So there’s lots to be done before I leave, and maybe you’ll forgive me if I go back eight years to a blog post I wrote when I was still blogging on Amazon.

In those blog posts I was reminiscing about my unforgettable four childhood summers (beginning in 1939) at Old Faithful, where my father was working in the Inn as Transportation Agent, and my mother took my sister and me to wonderful places, always driving, since she didn’t like to walk. So, from 2007, here goes. . . .

Two geysers we saw quite often when I got to live at Old Faithful were Great Fountain and Lone Star, both accessible by road in those days. We would take a lunch and a book or our game of Parcheesi and drive out north or south to wait for these geysers to erupt. It seems to me we would often have them to ourselves. LoneStarG_B.LasseterTo the left is Lone Star Geyser by Barbara Lasseter, from Yellowstone Treasures, page 106.

The most thrilling geyser viewing experience I can remember was being roused in the night to drive over to see Giant erupt. Daddy took me on his shoulders so I could see over the crowd. Somehow, the group excitement made more of an impression than the actual eruption! According to George Marler’s Inventory of Thermal Features, the first half of the 1940s was a relatively quiet time for Giant, so I was privileged to be there at an eruption. And the next time I got to see one was on July 3rd, 2006—again with a lot of excited viewers. Recently Giant has been erupting quite reliably every few days and thrilling hundreds of us. [Oops! Not these years. Giant hasn’t erupted since 2008.] You can sometimes even see the huge steam cloud from its eruptions on the Old Faithful Webcam.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned there are actually hundreds of active geysers in Yellowstone, maybe 500 of them, but changing all the time. Each one has its own shape, size, and personality. There are many “geyser gazers” who go to the park only to watch and study the geysers.

Yellowstone Park is opening up again!

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Roosevelt Cabins

Roosevelt Cabins to open June 5, 2015

Yellowstone’s roads and facilities are about to open to cars for the season. First will be the roads to Old Faithful from Mammoth and West Yellowstone and the Norris to Canyon road, all on April 17, 2015. Gradually the other roads will be ready: on May first you can drive from the East Entrance to Lake and Canyon and last (this year) will be Craig Pass between Old Faithful and West Thumb, where a new bridge is being built at Isa Lake.

The facilities open gradually, too, beginning with Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hotel on May first. The last to open will be Roosevelt Cabins on June 5. Campgrounds also open gradually, although the Mammoth Campground is open all year. You can find all the details on this page: “Opening & Closing Dates of Facilities.”

Credit: NPS Photo by David Restivo