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

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Two major non-profit organizations that give support to Yellowstone are merging. Governing boards for the Yellowstone Association and Yellowstone Park Foundation have recently voted to become one entity, merging philanthropic and educational programs into one umbrella organization.
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YPF_Screen Shot

The merger will be complete by spring 2016 and fully in effect by February 2017, with a new name and website, creating a single non-profit with 50,000 supporters.

Back in 1933 supporters formed the Yellowstone Library and Museum Association to preserve the park’s history and provide educational services. Later simplifying their name to Yellowstone Association, the organization began in 1976 to offer instructional courses that “highlight the park’s amazing wildlife, geothermal areas, rich history and awe-inspiring wilderness.” It also provides funding to the research library and Yellowstone Science magazine. As a member of YA I have personally profited from over twenty of the extremely well-taught courses offered by the Yellowstone Institute, and I’ve found the library (open to all) indispensable for my research.

Some of the contributions of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, formed in 1996 to raise needed funds for the park include:
1996: Began ongoing funding for the Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps.
2001: Acquired the remarkable Davis Collection of thousands of pieces of Yellowstone memorabilia and historic items.
2008: Funded the restoration of Artist Point overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
2010: Contributed to the new Old Faithful Visitor Education.
2013: Completed moving and restoring the historic Haynes Photo Shop near Old Faithful Geyser.

The press release for the merger states: “Our new organization will continue the tradition and contribution made by both YA and YPF by connecting people to Yellowstone through outstanding visitor experiences and educational programs, and translating those experiences into lifelong support and philanthropic investment that preserve and enhance the park for future generations. One organization with one mission will also help the public easily understand how to support Yellowstone.”

Granite Peak Publications is proud to be associated with these organizations and with Gateway Businesses for the Park, a project of YPF.Gateway-Businesses-for-the-Park

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What’s New, Fun, and Interesting in Yellowstone This Summer?

Categories: Geysers, Trip Reports, Wildlife
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Entering Yellowstone from the North Entrance may be a little tough going and not aesthetically pleasing for most of this year [2015], since there’s a humongous construction project going on to completely revamp the entrance area at the little town of Gardiner. But five miles and a thousand feet up the road to the south is Mammoth Hot Springs, and, in addition to seeing the springs along the Upper Terrace Road, I recommend spending an hour or so at the redone Albright Visitor Center. It has excellent hands-on dioramas of all of the park’s bigger mammals and kiosks for park orientation on the first floor. In the basement level, completely accessible with a new elevator, are great historical displays and the restrooms. For more about this see the Yellowstone Insider’s recent article.

One of Upper Geyser Basin’s most popular sites is the wonderfully regular Riverside Geyser. It almost always erupts every six to six-and-one-half hours. Here is the eruption I caught on my all-too-short visit to the park in mid June.


You can hear (1) a geyser gazer transmit by FRS radio the time of eruption to the Old Faithful Visitor Center, (2) the excited crowd,(3) the swishing of the main eruption, and (4) the rumbling of the side spouter that always accompanies Riverside’s eruptions. It always erupts quite a bit longer than this little video, which was edited for Granite Peak Publications by Jens Paape.

You can reach Artemisia Geyser’s beautiful pool and formation in one of two ways.Artemisia Geyser One is by walking beyond Riverside Geyser about half a mile up what used to be the main road and is now a rather rough trail past Morning Glory Pool (page 95 in Yellowstone Treasures) or by parking at Biscuit Basin and crossing the road to reach the other end of the trail from Morning Glory Pool. Up the hill in the distance in my picture is Hillside Springs, which old-time stagecoach drivers called Tomato Soup Springs.

I did not see any grizzly bears on this trip, but there are now enough of them in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem so that visitors are seeing them quite frequently. The national media covered the recent very unusual event where a grizzly climbed on the hood and sides of an occupied car, leaving some scratches but giving the occupants of the car the thrill of their lifetime and their own video.

One thrill of this visit for me was being assigned for three nights to what has to be the best room in the Old House of Old Faithful Inn (Room 229). It was inside the farthest east of the five dormer windows that span the third floor front of the inn. Two mornings I awoke to a swishing sound, opened the side window, and there was Old Faithful Geyser erupting for my private enjoyment!

For fishermen and others interested in what is happening with the fish in Yellowstone Lake these days, take a look at the Great Falls Tribune’s story about the good news regarding the struggle against illegally introduced lake trout.

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Geyser Day 2014

Categories: Geysers, Trip Reports
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Since I never tire of watching Yellowstone’s geysers, this year I gave myself all of one day, August twelfth, for chasing the best eruptions. I was richly rewarded.

Starting early, before the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center opened and posted its predictions, I took a chance that there might be an early morning eruption of Great Fountain Geyser that I could catch, but sitting at its shapely formation for 45 minutes, I saw only small bursts and had to conclude that I had missed it.

Still, delighted to find that my FRS radio worked even nine miles from Old Faithful, I heard that Fountain Geyser (in the Fountain Paint Pot area) had started erupting at 9:12, so I got there as quickly as exceeding the speed limit (just a little) would allow. I was in time to witness the latter part of Fountain’s eruption, which continued until 9:48. Jet Geyser was spouting in all directions, and little Twig Geyser contributed, too.

Red Spouter’s northern vent was acting as a very loud fumarole, and the southern vent was boiling vigorously, showing that the water table is relatively high for this late in the summer, thanks to ample rainfall. A clever new sign at the Paint Pot gives us the “Recipe for Mudpots.”

Fortunately, I had arrived at the parking lot before the 10:00 am crush, when tour buses and the majority of private vehicles make parking next to impossible. (The same was true this August at Norris Geyser Basin.)

Being able to phone the Old Faithful V.E.C. for geyser predictions this year proved its value: I learned from calling (307) 344-2751 (x2) that I might get back to Upper Geyser Basin in time for Grand Geyser, whose four-hour window was given as 9:15 am to 1:15 pm. Sure enough, arriving at Grand at 11:23, I had only a half-hour wait. Just after the second Turban Geyser eruption that I witnessed, Grand began and gloriously lived up to its name. Its two bursts spanned about fourteen minutes, and I was able to record some of the high points on my iPhone. This was one of the highest and most exciting Grand eruptions I’ve seen in recent memory.

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A National Monument West of Yellowstone—Great Idea!

Categories: News, On the Web, Park environs
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I’ve just learned that President Obama has designated an area called Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument. I was reading
Rocky Barker’s post in the Idaho Statesman, and his beautiful photo of Upper Mesa Falls took me back to the several pleasant visits I’ve made to that area. What a great idea to make this area, already public land in Caribou-Targhee National Forest, a national monument! Here’s the same view from Yellowstone Treasures.

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Both Upper and Lower Mesa Falls are worth a detour off U.S. 20. Besides the falls, the area sports beautiful 1930s stonework, good visitor access, and the Big Falls Inn’s small visitor center. Those of us who have been there should urge President Obama to use his ability soon to designate this part of Idaho just west of and contiguous with Yellowstone Park as a national monument. A portion of Yellowstone Treasures’ map on page 115 shows where the falls are located along Idaho state road 47.

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What to see and do near Canyon Village

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Yellowstone Canyon from Inspiration Point

Canyon colors from Inspiration Point

Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone? Here are some tips about what you can visit when you are in the right middle section of the figure 8 known as the Grand Loop Road. (See the main map to orient yourself.)

  • At the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, marvel at the world’s most spectacular combination of rainbow-colored canyon walls and breathtaking waterfalls.
  • For an unusual and uncrowded view into the Yellowstone River canyon across the river from the busy Tower Fall area, take the Specimen Ridge Trail from the Yellowstone River picnic area. You can see Calcite Springs and sometimes spy osprey or peregrine falcon nests in the canyon.
  • Horses are available at Canyon, Mammoth, and Tower-Roosevelt Junctions, for hire from the park concessionaire.
  • Opened at the end of August 2006, the beautifully upgraded Canyon Visitor Center displays the volcanic source of Yellowstone’s wonders in ways that all can understand. Exhibits about the caldera eruptions, subsequent lava flows, glacial effects, and earthquakes bring you up to date on scientific knowledge about the park’s geology. Don’t miss it when you visit the Canyon area!

There’s more about what to see and do at and in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone Treasures, fourth edition, pages 179-188. Here is the Canyon Area: Village and Falls map from that section of the guidebook.

–Editor and webmaster, Beth Chapple

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Trip report: Heart Mountain

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I’ve had good excuses to go to Yellowstone Park and environs at least once every year since 1995. That was the year I began researching and writing Yellowstone Treasures. I often try to do something new to me as well as catching my favorite geysers, hot springs, terraces and scenes (like Lower Falls and the Canyon of the Yellowstone River from Artist Point) that never fail to give me goose bumps.

Heart Mountain Interpretive CenterThe Heart Mountain Interpretive Center has been recommended to me since it opened in 2011, but this was the first time I was able to visit there [June 2012]. I made it this summer’s new attraction.

The exterior of the center itself is built to echo the construction of the barracks that housed 14,000 people between winter 1942, when a government order displaced all West Coast Japanese from their homes, and the end of that relocation in November 1945.

A movie about the camp explains to visitors how the camp came into being and how the internees made the best of their confinement there. Mementos and sample family quarters are on display. A knowledgeable docent is available to answer questions as you wander about the center’s displays.

Most impressive to me, in addition to how well these unfortunate people coped with their unreasonable confinement, were two facts. First, about 600 men from Heart Mountain enlisted or were drafted into the armed forces during the war, including the highly decorated 442nd Combat Team. Then, among the interned Japanese were people who understood how to use the barren land around them. They repaired and lined the irrigation ditch from the nearby Buffalo Bill Reservoir, turned it onto fertile fields, and eventually grew 45 different crops—enough to feed the camp, preserve some for winter use, and even send food to other internment camps.

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Call up for Old Faithful Geyser!

Categories: Geysers, Trip planning
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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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More tips for a great vacation

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6. Be aware that Yellowstone’s roads are slow, often full of potholes, and that some are currently undergoing construction.
7. Plan to be on the roads early and late in the day. Avoid crowds by traveling on the main roads between 10 am and 5 pm whenever possible.
8. Take binoculars or a spotting scope as well as your camera, especially for animal watching.
9. Prepare the kids: watch videos, read from Yellowstone Treasures and other books about the area or about the animals, tell them how different it will be (wild animals, staying outdoors, no TV). Let them do some of the planning.
10. When at Old Faithful Village, be sure to see the Visitor Education Center and check at their ranger desk for eruption times for the five predictable geysers in addition to Old Faithful Geyser. Seeing them and beautiful hot springs near them can be really rewarding.

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Winter Wonderland Trip

Categories: Winter
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The eight-day countdown has started for my winter trip to Yellowstone [2012], and my excitement is building! For a devoted fan like me, each trip is as fulfilling as the last, but it’s been six years since I got to go in winter.

I was getting a little worried that the snowpack would not be sufficient for snowcoaches, but now it is. The Tauck tour—actually two separate groups—I’ll be participating in will require something like twenty snowcoaches, which will make a significant impact on the roads and facilities this time of year.

This is the first time I’ve had the luxury of going along on a tour instead of planning everything myself for a Yellowstone trip. I wouldn’t have thought of doing it, except that it’s a unique opportunity to listen to and meet such Yellowstone authorities as Paul Schullery, Jim Halfpenny , and (the star attractions) Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. Right now I’m even going back over the first two DVDs of their 2009 National Parks TV series to be ready. My company, Granite Peak Publications, is also supplying free copies of Yellowstone Treasures to all the tour guests, which I see as a super promotional opportunity.

We’re going to the best facilities, from Chico Hot Springs north of the park to Spring Creek Ranch near Jackson, and Mammoth and Old Faithful hotels will provide the bulk of our seven-night stay. The pre-trip descriptions make me smile in remembrance of favorite places: Chico has a “turn-of-the-20th-century Victorian main lodge . . . offering travelers access to the area’s natural mineral hot springs since 1900.” (When it was quite new my paternal grandfather died there while seeking medical treatment.) Most summers I get a dip in the pools and a superb dinner there. At the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center “the keynote address is by Ken Burns, who will share stories and insights on Yellowstone and other national parks gathered throughout his years of work on The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” One day we’ll go to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where “the Lower Falls freeze and an ice bridge forms across the canyon.”
. . . .
Have a look at the trip report I wrote when I got back.

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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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