Yellowstone roads set to open
It’s time to get your summer park plans in order. The mild winter around Montana means that the parks are beginning to awake early this year.
Portions of roads inside Yellowstone National Park (open to bikes only for a few weeks) are set to open Friday.
The road from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone will open for the season at 8 a.m.
Each spring, Yellowstone National Park plow crews clear snow and ice from 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park, as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance to prepare for the summer season.
Additional road segments in the park will open during May as road clearing operations progress.
We’ll be taking readers into both Yellowstone and Glacier in our upcoming Park-to-Park issue.
As for Glacier – here’s a look at plowing progress on Going-to-the-Sun-Road.
Want more of Montana all year? Subscribe today and don’t miss our Park-to-Park issue.
Nat Geo photo shows hungry grizzly digging for pine nuts
We noted earlier this year that Montana bears were waking up pretty early this winter, as the unseasonably warm temperatures had them coming out of hibernation in mid February.
They were hungry then. But perhaps not as hungry as just before they went to sleep last winter. National Geographic featured a bear in the Beartooth Mountains inside Yellowstone National Park stealing pine nuts last winter as its Photo of the Day (by Drew Rush) today on Facebook. The grizzly was captured by a “camera trap” set up by Rush and tripped by the bear.
It’s easy to see why it’s the Nat Geo Shot of the Day. Rush a set of awesome of photos of the bear digging in the Yellowstone snow to find much need food.
But he also had a close encounter with a hungry bear while checking the camera that left him shaken but unhurt. Rush describes the experience for National Geographic in this Proof blog post.
When he finally retrieved the camera, he found the awesome shot of the Grizzly – as well as some other awesome wildlife shots.
Check them out!
Head-butting bison causes major car damage
This Yellowstone bison did not like that this car was in his way. Yellowstone visitor Tom Carter took this video of the charging bison near Lamar. Valley.
The insurance agent for the vehicle’s owner said the head-butt did almost $2,800 in damage.
Reminds me of this gentle reminder we ran with our Glacier mountain goat story last summer about the rules of wildlife interaction in national parks.
As usual, the rules are there for a reason.
Speaking of national parks: We’re heading to Yellowstone to do some exploring in our upcoming special Park-to-Park issue. Subscribe today and don’t miss a Montana moment.
One man, one wintry Yellowstone village
Snow is the most abundant thing in Steve Fuller’s life each winter.
The Yellowstone National Park resident has been the “winter keeper” at Canyon Village. It’s a job that comes with plenty of tasks, but not much company. Here’s the story from the Associated Press:
He was hired in 1973 and now works full time at Canyon for Xanterra Parks and Resorts Inc. “I’ve lived at Canyon year-round ever since,” Fuller said. “Seems like last week.”
His nearest neighbors — 16 miles to the south at Yellowstone Lake — are National Park Service rangers and the only other winter keeper in the park keeping an eye on the facilities at Lake Village.
Originally, he was hired only to remove snow from roofs, but more duties came when he was named maintenance manager 30 years ago, such as summer project planning, preparing for contractors and hiring employees, Fuller said.
Still, snow remains a chief component in his world, especially when it’s measured by the foot.
Fuller raised two daughters in the park. Today, he keeps busy fending off snow and bears, among other things, while living in a 100-year-old home.
Fuller’s house of 42 years is at least 100 years old. It may date back to the 19th century.
“Certainly 1910, no doubt about that,” he said.
The place is a bit off the beaten path, a mile south of Canyon Village. From his front porch, the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River are little more than a stone’s throw away. From a picture window, snow-softened hills highlighted with pine seem to undulate to infinity.
The moon and sun backlight the falls’ vapor plume. Fuller can hear the Upper Falls.
“It’s like a megaphone pointed at my front step,” Fuller said.
What a cool life. And even better?
“Never felt lonely — ever,” Fuller said.
Nap time is over: Grizzlies emerging from dens around Montana
It’s been an unseasonably warm February in many parts of Montana, and while it’s not yet spring, signs of spring are beginning to pop up around the state.
Or, should we say, wake up.
Grizzly bears must’ve felt the warmth lately, as bears have been spotted wide awake and wondering around places like Yellowstone National Park. As the Billings Gazette reported last week:
The first confirmed report of grizzly bear activity in Yellowstone occurred on Monday. A grizzly bear was observed late in the afternoon, scavenging on a bison carcass in the central portion of the park.
With bears emerging from hibernation, hikers, skiers and snowshoers are advised to stay in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. The same advice goes for those taking guided snowmobile trips in Yellowstone.
Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important enough food source that bears will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.
That point was proven with the above photo from Yellowstone of a big bear feeding a bison carcass. Yellowstone National Park posted the photo on its Facebook page, crediting Angela Trinka for the photo.
Park officials noted the warm weather in a press release about the grizzlies. The release shared safety rules about watching bears in the park and noted that anyone who spots a bear should alert park officials ASAP.
You gotta see this: Yellowstone makes NYT’s top place to see list
The New York Times thinks Yellowstone National Park is among the best of the best of the best. Why? The newspaper named the park as one of it’s top 52 places to see in 2015 because of its eco-friendly lodges and new walking and biking trails.
It was on a list that included places like Macedonia and Rome.
In fact, Yellowstone was No. 4 on the list.
The park broke visitation records again this year, welcoming more than 3 million in 2015. No doubt that number will keep climbing with recognition like this.
Need more reasons to visit YNP? We’ve got a few:
Like what you’re reading here? Subscribe to get much more about Montana all year long.
Meet Yellowstone’s ‘fatalistic’ butterfly
Yellowstone National Park is awesome for a lot of reasons.
One that you might not have heard about: Butterflies.
Along with bison and wolves, Yellowstone is home to 134 known species of the beautiful bug. George Bumann is the park’s unofficial butterfly expert who leads visitors on butterfly counts yearly and educational outings to help more people learn about the bounty of butteflies in Yellowstone.
We featured Bumman in our Sept/Oct 2014 issue.
“In Yellowstone, people get attached to those mega animals: the elk, bears and wolves,” Bumann said. “But what’s really amazing about this place is the tie between geology, plants and animals as they relate to each other; it’s a very tight-knit system.”
All the butterflies are important to the park. But what is Bumman’s favorite Yellowstone butterfly?
It’s Hayden’s ringlet. A butterfly with a “fatalistic” flying pattern and “eyes” on its wings. Why is it Bumann’s favorite? Click here to find out.
What’s your best bison story?
Yellowstone National Park is, of course, a place where many buffalo roam. So before we debut our Sept/Oct issue that includes several stories from the park, we asked our friends on Facebook to tell us their best Yellowstone bison story. Here’s what a couple had to say:
Teri Garrison: I was roaming the boardwalk near Old Faithful when this beautiful creature wandered up and past. I stood mesmerized as it ambled just feet away from me.
Shanna Mae Swanson: One fall I had planned a camping trip in Yellowstone with a few photographer friends of mine. I left super early to get into the park during sunrise and had made it to the Midway Geyser Basin area just after sunrise. Before I arrived at the parking area, I had noticed a herd of buffalo in the geyser area and thought it would be pretty cool to stop and photograph them. Once I was in the parking area, I set all of my photo gear on the hood of my car to get everything organized. All of the sudden a buffalo came through the trees right in front of my car, and then another and another. The herd of buffalo were stampeding into the parking lot. When I saw the first buffalo I ran to the back of my car (because I had locked my car) and laid up against the trunk to stay out of the way, leaving all of my camera gear on the hood of my car. Here I was in the middle of a herd of bison without a camera and a hundred tourists on the other side of the parking lot taking photos of the bison and of me lying on my car. It was definitely a crazy moment and an experience I will never forget.
To share your answer and pictures, or read more of what our friends had to say, find us on Facebook. We’ll also have some stories in the Sept/Oct issue – out soon.
You can also email stories and photos to email@example.com.
Also, look out for more Fan Feedback questions at fb.com/montanamagazine.