Friday, October 9, 2015

Caught on Video: 4 Hikers Survive Suspension Bridge Failure

Sorry, but it's been quite a few years since I've brushed up on my high school French, but you really don't need to know the language to know how frightening this had to have been for these four hikers in New Zealand. The video was published a few days ago by Adrien Whistle, presumably from France. Based on the Google translation, the video essentially states that one of the main cables of the suspension bridge broke as the four hikers were crossing it, at which point they fell 8 meters (26 feet) into the river. Fortunately there were no serious injuries. It's pretty crazy that the whole episode was caught on film:


Annual Visitation to Yellowstone Already Surpasses Previous Record

With three months left to go, visitation to Yellowstone National Park this year has now surpassed the previous record for total annual visitation set in 2010. The park has thus far seen more than 3.8 million visits in 2015, which exceeds the total visits recorded in the previous busiest year of 2010, when the park tallied just over 3.6 million visits.

Yellowstone hosted a total of 680,213 recreational visits in September, an increase of 18.97 % compared to September 2014 numbers. This month's numbers bring the total up to 3, 814,178 recreational visits in the first nine months of 2015, which is 15.97% over 2014 levels. Each of the park's five entrances showed an increase in vehicles for the month of September compared to 2014 levels. The west entrance recorded the largest increase in September visits, at 16,384 more than September 2014.

"This is certainly a noteworthy event," said Dan Wenk, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent. "We are delighted to see that more and more visitors are making their way to Yellowstone to experience the park. However, it creates additional challenges for our staff who work hard to protect this amazing place while providing top-notch services for visitors. We want to do everything we can to make sure that park visitors have a safe and enjoyable trip, while at the same time protecting the special resources that Yellowstone was set aside to preserve."

While many factors are at play, park managers point to the National Park Service's "Find Your Park" public awareness campaign, marketing and tourism promotions by the states of Montana and Wyoming, and lower gas prices as possible influences in the record number of visits to Yellowstone this year.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Grand Teton Presentation: Braided Channels History of Snake River Recreation

Dr. Yolonda Youngs, Assistant Professor of History at Idaho State University, will present her preliminary research on the history of recreation on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park on Friday, October 9 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Her late afternoon talk titled "Braided Channels" will take place at the Teton County Library Auditorium in Jackson, Wyoming.

Grand Teton has a rich and complex history of outdoor recreation, commercial guiding, and tourism. This history includes pioneering contributions to climbing, mountaineering, hiking, dude ranching, and river rafting that are part of larger trends seen across the United States during the post-World War II recreation boom. Despite this rich history and its impacts on the field of national park recreation management and the outdoor recreation industry, very few scholarly projects have explored these aspects of the park's past.

During her talk, Dr. Youngs will share images, stories, and the fascinating history of the Snake River community. To date her exploration of the topic has included archival research, field work, and oral histories of pioneer guides, commercial concessionaire operators, and river rangers. Through this examination, she has uncovered a fascinating and scarcely told past and is expanding the scope of her study of the river.

Dr. Youngs specializes in environmental historical geography, historical Geographic Information Systems (GIS), cultural landscapes, tourism, outdoor recreation, field methods, national parks and protected areas, and the western United States. She earned a Ph.D. in Geography from Arizona State University and a M.S. in Geography at Montana State University. She teaches courses in the Historical Geography of National Parks, World Regional Geography, Digital History, GIS, and U.S. Environmental History.

If you've never had the opportunity to take a float trip down the Snake River through the Grand Tetons, I highly recommend it. The trip offers the chance to see a variety of wildlife, in addition to seeing the mountains from a different perspective. Several months ago I posted about our float trip last summer.


Temporary Closures Scheduled for Jenny Lake Area

Starting Tuesday, October 13, a temporary area closure will be in effect for several trails and walkways within the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park. The temporary public closures are necessary to ensure public safety during construction activities involving helicopter transport of heavy material to the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point areas on the west side of Jenny Lake as well as the paved walking paths on the east shore of the lake. The public closure will last from October 13 through October 15, and possibly longer.

For safety during the staging and hauling of several loads of rock and construction materials, trails leading from the Jenny Lake east shore boat dock area and the Moose Ponds Trailhead to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point will be closed to all public access. There will also be intermittent closures of the walking paths in the vicinity of the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. Lake access from the public boat launch will not be allowed.

All visitor services in the Jenny Lake area, including the visitor center, are closed for the season. Signs will be posted throughout this closure area, and park staff will be positioned to provide suggestions for alternate routes for anyone visiting this area of the park. Areas not affected by this temporary public closure include: the Teton Park Road; Jenny Lake scenic loop road; access to Cascade Canyon via the Horse Trail; access to Jenny Lake via the String Lake parking lot and trailhead; and access to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead.

This slight and temporary inconvenience will be short-term in nature. Park managers appreciate the public's cooperation in observing all posted closure notices in the Jenny Lake area.

This rehabilitation and construction work is part of the Jenny Lake Renewal project. Work on the backcountry trail system on the west shore of Jenny Lake will continue next summer, while work on the front country visitor area on the east shore of the lake is beginning this fall and will continue next summer. The project is funded through a public-private partnership initiative with the Grand Teton National Park Foundation.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yellowstone Canyon Rim Overlooks and Trails Rehabilitation Plan Approved

The National Park Service has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) to update and repair many of the overlooks and trails located along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. NPS Intermountain Regional Director Sue Masica approved the FONSI on September 24, 2015 based on the Environmental Assessment (EA) recommended by Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk in mid-August. The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office concurred with the finding that historic and cultural resources in the area will not be adversely affected by the undertaking as planned.

The approved action will address aging and deteriorating infrastructure, provide improved accessibility to visitors, improve pedestrian flow, address safety issues, and improve the visitor experience in the area, all while retaining the historic integrity of this extraordinary portion of the park. Areas to be addressed in the plan include: the Brink of the Upper Falls, the Brink of Lower Falls, Uncle Tom's, Inspiration Point, Red Rocks Point, Crystal Falls, and their associated connecting trails.

With the EA and associated compliance completed, improvements to the overlooks, trails, and some associated parking for the first phase is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016. Construction would occur in at least two phases with the first phase including Inspiration Point, the Brink of the Upper Falls, and Uncle Tom's Point dependent upon available funding.

Copies of the EA and the FONSI, and more information about this project, are available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website,, or by writing to: Compliance Office, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.


Friday, October 2, 2015

15 Human Caused Fires in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Last 3 Weeks

Teton Interagency Fire Center has responded to 15 human-caused wildland fires during the past three weeks. All of these fires were the result of abandoned warming fires. Morning temperatures are chilly and many visitors will start warming fires, but then fail to extinguish them properly thinking the cool temperatures or wet weather will allow them to naturally go out. History has proven that these small warming or cooking fires can easily cast off embers, or spread through adjacent vegetation to ignite a wildfire.

“The cost of fire suppression is high and the threat to campers and adjacent private lands is unacceptable,” said Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor. O’Connor insists that recreationists should never be careless or complacent with fire. “Warming fires are generally small in size but lack many of the safety features of a regular campfire,” she said. “They are usually built on top of dry forest fuels without a rock ring to keep the fire from creeping and spreading.”

Remember these tips for fire safety:

* Know where fires are allowed; campfires are only permitted in designated campsites at Grand Teton National Park and are not allowed in the National Elk Refuge.

* Keep fires small

* Build fires in a fire safe area

* Never leave a fire unattended

* Drown the fire with water and stir until it is COLD TO THE TOUCH (lack of smoke showing does not mean the fire is out)

* When finished with charcoal briquettes, dunk them in water

Fire danger for the Teton Interagency area is currently moderate which means that fires start easily, spread at a moderate rate, and can start from most accidental causes.

For more information on preventing wildfires, visit To report a fire call 911 or Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3630.


Access to Logan Pass Changes on Monday

The last day to access Logan Pass by vehicle from the east side of Glacier National Park will be Sunday, October 4. Vehicle traffic will be restricted on the east side near the St. Mary Campground beginning Monday, October 5 to allow for fall season rehabilitation on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Vehicle access to Logan Pass will be available from the west side of the park through the 3rd weekend in October, weather permitting. Visitors can call 406-888-7800 (press 2) or visit for current road status information.

The last day to access Logan Pass by vehicle from the east side was originally planned to be September 20. However, road crews have made great progress on paving and road rehabilitation projects and are able to extend access to the east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road through October 4. Road rehabilitation will continue through and after October 4. Visitors should anticipate some traffic delays. Some east side road pull-outs may be closed due to road work and fire hazards.

After October 4, hikers and bikers will have access to the east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road on weekends and evenings, weather permitting. Some trails are closed on the east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road due to the Reynolds Creek Fire. For more information on status of trails and access, please contact the park or visit

The Apgar Backcountry Permit Office is open 7 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through October 3. From October 4 through October 31, the hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Backcountry permits will be issued until 30 minutes prior to closing.

Times and locations for boat inspections for boats launching in Glacier National Park are changing. Inspections for the west side of the park will be conducted at the Apgar Backcountry Office, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through the end of October. Boat inspections for the east side of the park, Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas, are by appointment only. Appointments are available by contacting the park at 406-888-7800.

The Apgar Visitor Center is open through October 12, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily, and then on weekends only through the winter. The St. Mary Visitor Center is open through October 4, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily. The Logan Pass Visitor Center closed on September 30.

Several campgrounds throughout the park have closed or changed to primitive status. Campgrounds in primitive status have pit toilets available, no potable or drinking water, limited number of sites, and fees are reduced to $10 per night. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and are reminded that any water taken from streams or lakes requires treatment before use. Current campground status is available at

Autumn visitors to Glacier National Park will find less crowds, cooler temperatures, and changing vegetation colors. Area residents and visitors are reminded that the park is open year-round and park recreational opportunities can be found during all seasons.

For additional park information, visit the park’s website or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800. More information and images of the park can be also be located by visiting Facebook at