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

All posts tagged reservations

Places to stay in the park in 2021

Categories: Trip planning, Wildlife
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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.

Phased reopening

Categories: News, Trip planning
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Cow elk with calf

Roads in the lower loop of Yellowstone National Park opened to the public at noon yesterday. Certain restrooms and gas stations also opened up. That means people can drive through the East and South Entrances (from Cody and Jackson, Wyoming), but the popular North and West Entrances are closed.

Keep in mind that the restrictions may seriously hamper any trip you are planning. Please peruse the chart on the NPS “Current Conditions” page carefully. Lodge rooms and sit-down dining will not open in all of 2020; cabins and grab-and-go eating or picnics will be the way to go. It’s possible to try to reserve cabins at Old Faithful starting on June 8, or at Lake or Canyon starting on June 17 or 19, respectively. Camping is possible at Madison from June 15th, as well as in other campgrounds.

This being Yellowstone, the warning out today is look out for those aggressive cow elk!

ALSO, today Gov. Bullock of Montana announced that the state will move to phase two of reopening on June 1. The good news is that “the 14-day travel quarantine for out-of-state travelers and residents arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes will be lifted” on that date. And restaurants can reopen at 75% capacity with social distancing. But the bad news for travelers is that for phase two they still have the same guidelines to minimize nonessential travel. In particular they warn that vulnerable populations and the elderly should continue to stay home.

This year, careful planning and accepting that you can’t just get in your car and go are more important than ever.

Photo credit: NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Yellowstone Park Opens to Over-snow Vehicles Today—But Wait . . .

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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Today, December 15, is when the winter season officially begins in Yellowstone. This means you should be able to travel in snowcoaches or with commercially guided snowmobile groups starting now.

But the snow cover is so limited between West Yellowstone and Old Faithful, that the National Park Service is allowing “only commercial snowcoaches with rubber tracks or large oversnow tires” on that stretch of park road, according to today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide.

If I were so lucky as to be going to the park this winter, I would make my plans for mid January through the end of February, when snow conditions are much more likely to be good. Here’s where you can read about my unforgettable January 2012 luxury winter trip.

Of course, you can also make all the arrangements yourself through Xanterra (307-344-7311) or a private concessionaire.

Trip planning

Categories: Trip planning
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One aspect many people wonder about when getting ready to travel to Yellowstone is how do people stay in touch? Cell phones have limited usefulness in Yellowstone, but relay towers are gradually being added throughout the park. The most reliable service can be found at Canyon, Grant, Mammoth, and Old Faithful. In 2013 a tower at Lake was announced as planned for the near future. Many geyser enthusiasts (“geyser gazers”) use FRS radios to keep in touch, especially in Upper Geyser Basin.

Are you wondering what the seasons are like in the park? We have just posted a table showing you what the weather will be like in each season, to help you decide when to go.

Many of the posts Janet has written on her blog over the years give you more tips to help you reserve lodging, decide on what to see, and plan when to go. She also lets you know about facilities that will be closing or opening for the season. A quick way to find these tips is to search for “trip planning” in the Category list in the right column of this blog.

Have a good journey,
Beth Chapple, Editor

Holiday Bells will soon be ringing in Yellowstone, too!

Categories: News, Trip planning, Winter
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The winter season opens December 15th in Yellowstone Park. It’s a wonderful time to see the park in its coat of ice and snow. Reservations for snowcoach travel and for rooms in Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and in Old Faithful Snow Lodge can be made through the concessionaire Xanterra at: 307-344-7311. This year they are also running a shuttle from the airport in Bozeman, Montana, to Mammoth, so you will not need to drive at all.

For your winter or summer trips, treat yourself and friends to copies of Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park. This year’s Updated Fourth Edition is available from our website at a 20% discount from now through January 20, 2014. Just go to the Guidebook page for the print version, and use “Holidays” as the discount code.

You can buy the Kindle, Nook, and iPad versions at online vendors—sorry, we do not sell e-books from our website.