Ahhh, fall! Definitely a local favorite. Things are winding down from the busy summer season and local folks are looking forward to the reasons they live here, like little vacations before winter comes, filling the cupboards during hunting season, and a little time to spend with friends and family after a long summer of work. The weather also tends to be phenomenally good, as long as you don't mind a little bite in the morning air. If you like outdoor activities that involve a little exertion and prefer to do those things with less human company, come see us this fall. We will set you up with a guide that'll make all the difference in your experience. By the way...what does a Lava Creek guide do with their time off? Well, if they are not volunteering for some worthy cause like a crazy barbed wire fence removal project (August blog below), then they are out exploring new places and hanging out with the mountain goats. Every trip adds knowledge and expertise to their quivers. All of these skills and detailed knowledge of wild things and wild places comes together when they are guiding, which means you're likely to have an amazing once in a lifetime experience. (the pic is of our guides Michelle and Jamie on a late August hike in the Beartooth Mountains on the northern border of Yellowstone - see her work at www.mountainnomadphotography.com)
Unstrung Heroes! Summer time is short but sweet in this high alpine part of the world. A lot of behind the scenes things are happening, including all sorts of projects that benefit wildlife in the area. The Unstrung Heroes are a local volunteer group made up of a mix of active and retired US Forest Service employees, along with other conservation minded folks from the SW Montana area. Each summer for close to twenty years now, the group gets together for a weekend to remove old barbed wire fencing and posts from public lands in areas where it has been left behind from grazing leases and other human related activities. These areas are also critical wildlife habitat, particularly for large ungulates like elk, moose, pronghorn, and deer. Wild animals can easily get ensnared in the wire, particularly the very young or during the winter when snow makes movement difficult. Removing the wire removes an uneccessary and unsightly hazard that benefits wild animals, along with horse back riders and hunters and others traveling cross country through the mountains. We hope you are taking a little time this summer to volunteer for a cause that is important to you! It doens't even have to involve cutting, rolling, and carrying dangerously sharp barbed wire through rugged mountain terrain. Fortunately we didn't lose too much blood this year! Thank you Unstrung Heroes, and thank you to volunteers everywhere who do what they can to make the world a better place!
It looks like July 1 will be the first day of summer this year. At least, the first day of summer weather! We're looking forward to it so that we can get more of you out on the lakes enjoying our paddle boards and kayaks in the beautiful summer sun. We've got some great trips, from half day introductory kayaking and SUP (Stand Up Paddle board) tours to longer trips where we explore lakes created by earthquakes. These lakes occupy corridors between steep walled mountain canyons with gorgeous scenery. We've got a must do trip on Quake Lake where you can paddle through the trunks of standing 100+ foot tall Douglas Fir trees that are over 50 years old, and another that is on a lake that has water as dramatically blue and emerald as anything in the Bahamas. And don't forget our half day hiking plus half day scenic kayaking/paddle boarding or whitewater rafting Park & Paddle tours! Way fun for the whole family, and we've got versions that accommodate everyone from easy whitewater or tandem kayaking for kids 5 and up, to more challenging hiking and whitewater for those that have more experience or are just want something a little on the wild side!
We're growing, and have managed to find some of the most capable and competent (and fun) guides anywhere! We've been having fun with kayak rescue training, early season guide training, park service guide training... whew! Trips too! It's always a crazy start to a new season, particularly when the snow hangs around a while longer than usual. We've seen snow this month! It's all good though, because the cool weather means that the animals stay active all day long, which has made for lots of bear and wolf sightings, along with plenty of bison and elk and their new born babes, and all sorts of other cool stuff too... Check out this Great Grey Owl diving in to a drift to catch a vole for lunch! If you're heading this way, remember to always pack a light insulating layer of synthetic or wool long underwear, along with a mid-weight pullover or jacket, and a light rain shell when traveling to this part of the world. I know it sounds crazy when you're coming from places that have been 90 degrees plus for a few months now, but I guarantee you those that did were glad they did this month. Light layers don't take up much space in the suitcase, so no harm if you don't use them, and it sure makes the difference between enjoyment and misery if the weather's a little cooler than what you're used to back home.
Trying to keep your vacation expenses in line, but really hoping to get the most out of your Yellowstone experience? Well, if you've looked through our site, read our reviews, and done your research you'll know that a professional guide makes all of the difference! However, most guides incorporate the cost of their vans and fuel and other overhead expenses into the price of the trip. But if you've already rented a car or van, or are bringing a suitable one of your own, why not use it to your advantage since you're already paying for it? You're in luck, because we're now offering step-on guide services for private groups. We've discounted our usual rates so that you only pay for what you really need, the guide. We can still bring our excellent Uncle Laurie's deli lunches along too, and we have coolers and water jugs and picnic tarps and all of those details so you won't have to worry about them. Guides also travel with binoculars and a spotting scope, so you will get a great (and safe) view of any animals we spot during the day. Of course, we still offer our usual trips with our vans, which is a really nice option if you don't have a vehicle or want more room and no worries about any of the details. Call and we'll get you set up!
Yellowstone trivia question: Can you name the president who signed the bill that created Yellowstone National Park, the world's first, in 1872?
Right on! Yellowstone opens to cars for the summer season on April 18th! Be forewarned that not all of the roads are opening this month, as some of the high passes won't open until later in May. However, also be forewarned that now through May is a great time to be here if you want to experience the best wildlife viewing opportunities of the season. The bigger animals are still congregated in their overwintering areas in the valley bottoms (near the roads) and hibernating animals are awakening from a long winter's slumber. Migratory birds are flocking back into the area, preparing for raising the next generation. Bears are out in search of winter killed elk and bison, Because winter elk and bison habitat is in the valley bottoms where the roads are, this is arguably the best time of year to almost be guaranteed to see both grizzly and black bears during a road trip in Yellowstone. We're looking forward to a great summer, so give us a call to make sure your dates are reserved!
Any guesses as to who or what might have made the tracks in the wet April snow? (glove for scale) We don't recommend following them to find out, and we do recommend pepper spray this time of year, even when traveling roads and boardwalks. Or a guide :>)
Yellowstone National Park Commercial Use Authorization Permittee
USFS Operations under permit by the USDA Forest Service
Beaverhead-Deerlodge & Gallatin National Forest