It's been another great summer season! The Park will close to wheeled vehicles on November 4th, but will reopen to over the snow travel on December 15th. If you've never been here in the winter, it's well worth the trip! It will seem like a whole different place from what you've seen in the summer, and will give you a whole new appreciation for what the people and animals that stay here have to do to survive. Summer is easy living, but fortunately the things that live here have some amazing adaptations that allow them to survive and in some cases even thrive during the winter months. Check out our Winter page for some links to companies that can take you in on skis, snowmobiles, or in a snow coach. The roads begin to re-open for the summer season starting on April 19th, so give us a call for planning your visit next summer, and we'll see you next year!
For 2014, in addition to all of our other guided trips we will be offering step on guide trips! For these trips, one of our guides will travel with you in your vehicle, which makes these trips less expensive than when we do the driving in our vans. Get all of the benefit of having a guide while saving some money for the other things you'll want to do while you're here! Full and half day step on guide trips are available, check out rates and more here: www.lavacreekadventures.com/Yellowstone/index.html
Please call or email to find out more!
Bummer! Actually, much more than just a bummer for visitors that have planned their once in a lifetime Yellowstone trip for October, because with the government shutdown they will not even be able to travel on foot to see the Park"s wonders. It is completely closed. Fortunately, all is not lost, because we have some amazing country surrounding the Park and all of it is considered part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Much of these areas might have been included in the original Park. However, because it was the first in the world when it was created in 1872, it was a least as much of a political "hot potato" as it would be if it were done now. Amazing it ever happened, all things considered, but apparently congress had a better grasp of the word "compromise" back then. Few people realize how expansive and diverse the public lands surrounding the Park are, but there is a reason a lucky few of us reside here, and the Park is just the icing on that cake. There are numerous local companies that have permits to do hiking, boating, driving, flying, and other forms of trips on National Forest lands around the Park, which fortunately are NOT closed. Yeah! Call us and we'll let you know how to make the most of your time here.
Everything is moving! No, really! Not only do we have a front row seat for all of the animal activity as both local, and in the cases of many bird species, national and international travelers pass our way, we are also in a place where the ground is moving beneath our feet almost every day. Literally! The yellowstone area averages in the neighborhood of 7-8 earthquakes per day on an annualized basis. Some days and some years there are many more than that, and some many less. We've experienced earthquake "swarms" where we'll have over 400 per day, and usually a few of those will be a magnitude 3.0-4.0 which makes them noticeable if you're in the right (wrong?) place. Most are a magnitude 1.0 or less, so we don't feel them, but all of that shaking can have an effect on the thermal activity in the Park. Sometimes new features will form, and sometimes others that have been active for a long time can change their behavior or become inactive altogether. Right now, we're experiencing one of those swarms, with over 130 earthquakes recorded since September 10th when the increased activity began, including one of magnitude 3.6 centered in the Lower Geyser Basin near Old Faithful today, September 15th.
Check out these great sites, one for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory:
This one where you can see real-time data from seismographs (earthquake sensors) in Yellowstone Park (this link helps partly explain why the pictures are always crooked on the walls in West Yellowstone):
And this very informative one from the USGS:
Whoa! This bull moose was cooling his hooves when we came around a bend in the river (on SUP's - way fun!). We gave him plenty of space and time to move on his way before proceeding downstream. If you think grizzly bears are the most dangerous animal in Yellowstone, you might want to reconsider. In our experience, moose can be much less predictable and equally dangerous. In our area, the bulls weigh upwards of 1000 pounds (600+ kilos) and can be very aggressive. Females with calves can also be every bit as dangerous as a bear with cubs. Even some of the smaller animals and larger birds in this part of the world can be very territorial and dangerous, particularly when they are rearing their young. Goshawks and otters, among others, have caused serious injury to people who got to close to nests and dens. Please be respectful, and keep plenty of distance! If an animal changes its behavior when it notices you, you are way to close! Every year, a number of people are wounded or killed because they don't respect the wild things that live here. Don't be a statistic! Better yet, hire a reputable guide who knows how to handle animal encounters so that you have a great experience without getting hurt or causing any harm.
After a somewhat hot and dry spring that can often lead to a summer of wildfires, we've instead had just enough rain and cooler weather to keep the fires at bay. It's been a spectacularly nice year to be here in the summertime! The nice weather has led to plenty of animal sightings, and it's been perfect hiking and boating weather. This year has had the least mosquitoes that we can remember, likely due to the warm, dry spring. Hope the spiders, swallows, and bats aren't getting too hungry! Compared to other comparably beautiful mountain environments, our area generally has far fewer biting insects, but with even less than normal this season, we've been enjoying every moment outside!
June is arguably the best month for mountain wildflowers! Lots of spring only flowers, along with the first signs of those that stay with us through most of the summer. My wife and I share a Glacier Lily or two when we find them where the snow has just melted off of a mountain meadow at the edge of the timber. How do we share them? We eat them! Good stuff, but always be careful about consuming wild plants and know for sure what you're eating before you do. We have some deadly toxic plants here too, but for the most part it's a culinary delight! Just ask those most wide ranging of omnivores (besides us), the bears!
We've also had a chance to complete our annual company required and Park Service guide training, and will also spend a day on the water with all of our kayak and SUP guides working on rescue techniques and scenarios. Always fun to get together and explore and learn with other guides for a couple of days, and even though it's technically supposed to be work, it never feels like it!
May always offers a great combination of lots of animal activity, interesting weather, and minimal crowds. So far this year, the animals and weather have lived up to expectations, but we've seen more visitors taking advantage of it than usual. However, it's still not busy or crowded by any measure relative to the peak summer months, and still ranks as one of my favorite months to visit our area.
One of my favorite spring things? The sounds of Sandhill Crane duets, and the White Throated Sparrows identifying territorial boundaries and wooing prospective mates. Want to know what it sounds like? Come on out! Nothing beats hearing and seeing them in person. In the meantime, check out two of my favorite apps, iBird Pro and Sibley's, which both offer bird calls and songs for each species in the app. It's pretty cool stuff!
Well, you just never know how things are going to work out around here! Due to the sequestration cuts, this spring Yellowstone Park was to delay plowing snow from the roads two weeks later than they usually do, which would have meant that everything would open at least two weeks behind schedule. Fortunately, there are a lot of determined folks in the gateway towns surrounding the Park, and in the State of Wyoming in particular, who didn't want their guests to have to change their travel plans. So the funds, manpower, and equipment were provided through donations that assisted the Park in having most of the roads open open on time, even though the plowing started two weeks later than usual!
As of April 19th, the roads from the North and West entrances are open from Mammoth to West Yellowstone and Old Faithful, with other entrances and roads planned to open as originally scheduled in early May (mid to late May for Dunraven Pass). Nice work! I've had this photo up before, courtesy of the YNP archives, but had to run it again because I think it shows what kind of seemingly impossible task can be done with a little dedication and a lot of sweat. This is a road crew from the 1920's using shovels to open the Swan Lake Flats road between West Yellowstone and Mammoth.
Yellowstone National Park Commercial Use Authorization Permittee
USFS Operations under permit by the USDA Forest Service
Beaverhead-Deerlodge & Gallatin National Forest