Elk crossing Madison River, September 2016.
Recently two readers wrote to ask what the numbers next to so many entries mean. As author Janet Chapple wrote in her nugget called “The Features of Yellowstone Treasures,” “Some people get confused about how to use the mileage markings in the road logs in my book. I explain these in the Introduction [on page 17]. They show the distance from an entrance or major junction as well as the distance from the other direction, since a visitor may be traveling either way when consulting the guidebook.”
Here’s one letter we just received on April 1, 2018.
Just purchased Yellowstone Treasures and still trying to figure what to visit in June this year and which trails to hike. I have one question, which I still can’t find the answer to while following the book.
You have numbers in front of some trails, like 0.0/20.5 “Yellowstone National Park boundary” on page 33 or 0.9/19.6 Dailey Creek Trailhead, and many others.
What do these mean? How should I use them in planning the trip and the places to visit?
Well, much of the guidebook is written as a road log, which means the author and her husband Bruno Giletti actually drove the roads to find out how far from the major road junctions or villages each trailhead or picnic area is located. To follow this explanation best, look at pages 286-87 in your book or open this link to the “From Norris Junction to Madison Junction” book excerpt. Each chapter in the guidebook starts with the junction or park boundary given as 0.0, like this:
0.0/13.4 Norris Junction. . . .
From there it’s just under 4 miles (3.9 mile) to the Artists’ Paintpots, so that paragraph starts:
3.9/9.5 Side road to parking for Artists’ Paintpots . . . [with icons that show you this is a recommended hike and there are restrooms]
But suppose you’re doing the chapter in the other direction, because you entered the park at the West or South Entrance and are coming from Madison Junction. Then you can see that the hydrothermal area is 9.5 miles from that end of the road (the second in the pair of numbers). See the map to confirm that Artists’ Paintpots is about a third of the distance from Norris to Madison (and for a recommendation that you look across the road in Gibbon Meadows for wildlife such as elk or bison).
We don’t really expect everyone to be zeroing their trip meter in the car every time they come to an entrance or a junction (though you could!). And people even use the book when they are riding on a bus tour. So the mileage indicators serve to show you the order of the sights and help you plan approximately how long it will take to get places. For example, if you are heading north to Norris, you know it’s just 0.6 mile after the Artists’ Paintpots to a picnic area.
When you are planning your trip don’t forget you can also use the driving distance chart on pages 20-21 to figure out how much you could get to see in a day. Hope that helps!
Photo Credit: The photo of elk is by Suzanne Cane. We use it on page 41 of Yellowstone Treasures, updated fifth edition.
—Editor and Publisher, Beth Chapple