Friday, January 30, 2015

What's It Like To Climb Mt. Rainier?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an RMI Expeditions seminar at a local outdoor shop. The folks at Rainier Mountaineering Inc. gave us (mostly hikers and backpackers) an in-depth explanation on what it's like to climb Mt. Rainier, the highest mountain in the state of Washington. RMI also described to us on what prospective climbers can expect on the two-day expedition to the 14,410-foot summit - including several hours of training, such as self-arrest techniques on snow. Ever since attending that seminar this "little adventure" has simmered on the back burner of my bucket list.

Below is short video from Backpacker Magazine that provides a quick overview of what it's like to climb Mt. Rainier:

Back in 2013 Kathy and I had the opportunity to visit Mt. Rainier National Park for the first time. Although we didn't climb the mountain, we did hike the famous Skyline Trail in the Paradise Valley, just below the southern slopes of Rainier. We have a trip report with several photos posted here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Video of the Day: Backpacking the Tetons

I know we're still a long way off before backpacking season starts again, but maybe this short video will help to whet your appetite and provide the inspiration to begin making plans for your own adventures this summer.

This video follows the Lanza family on their four-day backpacking trip in Grand Teton National Park. Their epic hike took them from the Death Canyon Trailhead to Jenny Lake, via Death Canyon, Death Canyon Shelf, the Teton Crest Trail, Alaska Basin, Sunset Lake, Hurricane Pass, South Fork Cascade Canyon, and Cascade Canyon. Basically, they saw the very best of what the Grand Tetons has to offer in one four-day trip. Enjoy:

For more details and photos from this Lanza family trek, please click here. For more information on hiking in the Grand Tetons, please click here.


National Parks To Be Theme Of 2016 Rose Bowl Parade

The National Park Service and Tournament of Roses Association have recently announced that they will be partnering to kick off the National Park Service centennial during the 2016 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

The theme for the January 1st parade, “Find Your Adventure,” is a nod to “Find Your Park,” the two-year public engagement campaign aimed to increase awareness and excitement about the National Park Service centennial.

This collaboration showcases the common interests of the National Park Service and the Tournament of Roses Association – to engage America’s youth, support an ethic of volunteerism, and embrace the diversity of American culture. The Rose Parade is a great opportunity to introduce the National Park Service and its programs to a broad, and large audience of participants, attendees, and viewers (80 million watched on television internationally and 700,000 watched in person in 2014).

Parade entrants (floats, marching bands, and equestrian units) will take inspiration for “Find Your Adventure” from the work and mission (i.e., parks and programs) of the National Park Service. But, the opportunities extend well beyond the two-hour parade. Over the course of 2015, the National Park Service and the Tournament of Roses Association will create opportunities for parks and programs to engage with communities across the country to help achieve the centennial goal, such as connecting with each of the marching bands representing high schools across the nation with their nearest national park units and/or programs.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Historic Luther Taylor Cabin Defaced by Act of Vandalism

Spray-painted graffiti on an important cultural site in Grand Teton National Park was recently removed through an extensive cleanup effort. Sometime in September of 2014, an unknown individual(s) defaced the Luther Taylor homestead cabin, located along the Gros Ventre Road between Kelly Warm Springs and the eastern boundary of the park. Historic preservationists from both Grand Teton and the Western Center for Historic Preservation painstakingly removed the graffiti in mid-December, though evidence of the damage remains. Anyone with knowledge about this act of vandalism is encouraged to call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3301. Callers can remain anonymous.

On September 20, 2014, a black and blue spray-painted depiction of a devilish creature wearing a crown was discovered by a park visitor on the inside wall of the homestead cabin and reported to park law enforcement rangers. The subsequent investigation yielded no suspects and provided inconclusive answers as to the possible source or meaning of the graffiti. Though it is thought to be unrelated, a fencepost at the historic Bar BC Ranch was also vandalized with spray paint in October 2014.

Restoration efforts began when six historic preservationists from the park and Western Center for Historic Preservation—an NPS Intermountain Region program based at Grand Teton—spent considerable time cleaning the cabin wall. They repeatedly applied a mixture of eco-friendly products previously tested on wood, gently scrubbed the logs with brushes, and rinsed them with warm water to remove the paint. Their efforts were largely successful at removing the graffiti, though some paint remained in the cracks and crevices of the wood. Unfortunately, the cleaning process also removed the 100-year-old gray patina from the logs. To remedy this problem and return the cabin wall to its historic appearance, park cultural resource specialists plan to use a wood product that will help accelerate the ageing process along with exposure to sunlight and moisture.

The Luther Taylor historic site was originally homesteaded in 1916 by John Erwin and purchased by Luther Taylor in 1923, who built a cabin and outbuildings. The culturally significant site is now famous for its appearance in the 1953 western film Shane, starring Alan Ladd. In fact, the site is commonly recognized as the "Shane cabin." Though currently in a state of decay, this site is eligible for—and soon to be listed on—the National Register of Historic Places.

"Cultural resources like the Luther Taylor cabin are part of the historic fabric of Grand Teton National Park. This cabin and other historic structures convey the stories of early settlers and provide evidence of their pioneer life in Jackson Hole, prompting visitors to learn about the past," said Superintendent David Vela. "While vandalism is always a crime, this graffiti attack on such a treasured historic cabin is especially troubling. We take vandalism of this sort very seriously, and appreciate those who keep watch over the park's special places and call whenever something is amiss," added Superintendent Vela.

The Luther Taylor historic site is subject to the ongoing Historic Properties Management Plan/Environmental Assessment (EA) planning effort. Many comments made about the Luther Taylor cabin during the initial public scoping period in February 2011 encouraged managers to maintain the site as-is and improve interpretation of its history. The Draft EA will be up for public review and comment in the spring of this year.


Grand Teton to Offer Moonlight & Winter Trails Day Snowshoe Hikes

Grand Teton National Park ranger naturalists invite local residents and visitors to explore the wonders of the park in winter with two separate ranger-led snowshoe hikes. The upcoming ranger-led programs include a moonlit snowshoe hike on Saturday, January 31, and a Taggart Lake snowshoe walk during daylight on Saturday, February 7 as a part of Jackson Hole Winter Trails Day celebrations.

The winter season blankets the Teton peaks with a deep mantel of snow and transforms the valley of Jackson Hole into a fascinating wonderland. Illuminated by moonlight on a sparkling snowpack, the ranger- guided snowshoe hike will take participants along a level section of the park's most popular winter trail—the snow-covered Teton Park Road. This easy two-hour outing will take place January 31st from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and offer a chance to experience the magic of winter in Grand Teton National Park and listen to intriguing stories of the night.

Those looking for a more rigorous activity can join a ranger naturalist for a daytime snowshoe hike to Taggart Lake from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on February 7th. This moderately strenuous excursion, which is a part of Jackson Hole Winter Trails Day celebrations, offers participants the opportunity to get exercise in a picturesque, natural setting while also exploring unique aspects of winter ecology and hearing stories about winter and how it affects plants, wildlife and people living in Jackson Hole. The three hour-long snowshoe hike gains 400 feet of elevation and covers a round trip distance of three miles.

Jackson Hole Winter Trails Day is a collaborative effort between local and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private enterprises. The community-based celebration aims to introduce people to the health benefits of winter recreation with an emphasis on camaraderie and social engagement. Jackson Hole Winter Trails Day events are scheduled for Grand Teton National Park, Teton Pass trailhead, Wilson Centennial Trail/Stilson Ranch, and Cache Creek trailhead. All events are free of charge.

Snowshoes are available for both of the Grand Teton-based programs and previous snowshoe experience is not required. Those participating should wear warm layered clothing, bring sturdy insulated boots, and bring along an energy snack and water.

Space is limited for each of the snowshoe hike excursions and reservations are required. Those wishing to participate in either program should call 307.739.3399 to reserve a space.


Visitor Found Dead Along Yellowstone Ski Trail

The body of a Montana man was discovered this past weekend along a ski trail in Yellowstone National Park.

Snowshoers called 911 around noon on Saturday, after spotting what they thought was a frozen human body in the snow along a groomed ski trail in the northern part of the park.

Park rangers responded to the Frog Rock Trailhead, which is south of the Grand Loop Road, eight and a half miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs.

They discovered the body of 52 year old Merik Morgan from Belgrade, Mont., not far from the ski trail along the Blacktail Plateau Drive.

While initial indications are that the man succumbed to hypothermia, the incident remains under investigation.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Sperry Chalet & Granite Park Chalet to Offer Trailhead Shuttle Service

The managers for the Sperry and Granite Park Chalets have recently announced that they will be offering trailhead shuttle service this upcoming season. The new service is being offered as a result of the Going-to-the-Sun Road's increasing congestion. Here's the announcement as published on the Sperry Chalet website:
Starting this summer we are planning a trailhead shuttle service for chalet guests. Traveling and parking along Going to the Sun Road is becoming more and more challenging for backcountry adventurers, let us help you with a ride from your hotel to the trailhead and back again.

Many of the details about the chalet shuttle are still being planned out, but we do know that the fares will be low and reasonable. Shuttle service will be by reservation. Dropoff and pickup can be arranged for all chalet trailheads along Going to the Sun Road. And we can provide overnight parking for your vehicle in the West Glacier area.

We will offer morning pick ups for chalet guests from hotels near West Glacier and Apgar, and drive you to the chalet trailhead. Dropoffs include the Sperry Trail at Lake McDonald Lodge, the Loop Trail at the Loop, and the Highline Trail at Logan Pass.

East side service to the Gunsight Pass trail at Jackson Glacier Overlook and the east entrance at St. Mary will also be available with an additional mileage fee.

In the afternoon on the day you depart, we can meet you at the trailhead and deliver you back to your hotel or vehicle.

If a ride to the trail is something that can help you with your chalet adventure this summer, call or Email the reservation office to make arrangements.

Happy Hiking



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

10 Ways to Use Duct Tape

Everyone knows that duct tape is a miracle tool/product. It can be used for a multitude of purposes to help out in a variety of jams. In this short video Backpacker Magazine shows 10 creative ways to use duct tape while out on the trail. These are just a few examples of how this product can be used in the field. Don't like the idea of carrying a role in your backpack? My wife solved this issue by wrapping a couple yards of tape around her trekking pole (just below the handle). If ever in need, she can quickly and conveniently cut-off a strip.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Off-trail Restrictions Implemented for Logan Pass Area

Visitors to the Logan Pass area of Glacier National Park may want to note that some off-trail restrictions have been put into place recently. These closures include access to the iconic Triple Falls, as well as almost everything off-trail in the Logan Pass area atop the Going-to-the-Sun Road. According to the 2014 Compendium, the following closures and restrictions are now in place for the Logan Pass area:
vi) Area Closures:

A) The following areas are closed, as posted, to ALL public use and entry for the protection of revegetation projects, existing resident vegetation species and seasonal habitat for congregating bighorn sheep and mountain goats:

1) The "Jones Flat" area at Oberlin Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, extending from the Highline Trailhead at Logan Pass to the Rimrock area, bounded by the Highline Trail and the inside radius of Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Highline Trail is not included within this closure. Refer to map section at end of chapter.

2) The Oberlin Bend area on the Going-to-the Sun Road, extending from Oberlin Peak climbers access trail at Logan Pass to the Rimrock area, bounded by the outside radius of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the northern perimeter of the Oberlin Peak climbers access route, and the base of Oberlin Peak. The Oberlin Peak climbing route is not located within this closure. Refer to map section at end of chapter.

3) The Mount Pollock area at Logan Pass, extending from the Highline Trailhead to the GPS coordinate 48º41’49.01” N 113º42’43.48”W, bounded by the Highline Trail, Going-to-the-Sun Road, and cliff base of Mount Pollock. The Highline Trail is not included within this closure. Refer to map section at end of chapter.

B) The following areas are closed, as posted, to ALL OFF-TRAIL TRAVEL for the protection of revegetation projects, existing resident vegetation and seasonal habitat for congregating bighorn sheep and mountain goats:

1) The Logan Pass area, which consists of all areas within the following exterior boundaries: Oberlin Peak climber trail, from the trailhead, to Oberlin Peak; Oberlin Peak to Clements Peak; Clements Peak, along Clements Ridge, to the first switchback on the Hidden Lake Trail; first switch back on the Hidden Lake Trail, along the first bench above Hidden Lake, to Reynolds Pass; Reynolds Pass, along the southern edge of the Hanging Garden area, to the cliff wall above the Reynolds Creek valley; and bound by the remainder of the cliff wall, above Reynolds Creek valley, and Going-to-the-Sun Road. Refer to map section at end of chapter. Exceptions:

i) The following trails are not included in this closure: Logan Pass Visitor Center walkways, Hidden Lake Trail, Oberlin Peak climber route, Clements Peak climber route and Reynolds Peak climber route.

ii) Over snow travel is not included in this closure, so long as travel is NOT conducted over bare ground, rock, or vegetation and all travel is on contiguous snowpack immediately accessible from established trail corridors [see 36 CFR 1.5 (a)(1)(iii)(H) for wildlife distance requirements].

iii) Administrative functions and special use or research permitted activities are not included in this closure.

C) Footgear with felt or other fibrous material on the soles is prohibited in all park waters.

Here's a map of the areas impacted by these new rules:


Grand Teton National Park From The Air

Below is some absolutely stunning aerial video footage of Grand Teton National Park, Mount Moran and Jenny Lake. The footage was taken by Skyworks during recent filming of the state of Wyoming. Enjoy:

If this film has inspired you to visit this wonderful park this summer, be sure to visit our newest hiking trail website first to find out what the best hikes are - in order to get the most out of your visit. Simply click here.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Glacier National Park: The Official Trailer

If you haven't been yet, Glacier National Park is an absolute must visit for every hiker out there. No place else is like it! Finley-Holiday Films has recently completed a four-year filming project on this very special place. Below is a trailer from the film to help whet your appetite.

If this video inspires you to visit Glacier this upcoming season, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park.

If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Free Park Entrance on Monday

Entrance fees to Glacier National Park, as well as other units of the National Park Service, will be waived on Monday, January 19, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Visitors are encouraged to experience the park’s winter landscape. Snowshoeing and skiing are popular winter recreational activities in Glacier National Park. Be prepared for changing weather conditions as weather can vary drastically from lower valley locations to higher elevation locations. Severe weather, lack of snow, winter rains, or melting conditions can quickly alter the difficulty of any winter trip.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the park’s website for information about skiing and snowshoeing in the park.

Avalanches may pose a danger in the mountainous portions of the park and surrounding areas. Please visit the Flathead Avalanche Center’s website for updated information and advisories.

Additional fee-free days for 2015 include:

February 14-16 President's Day Weekend,
April 18-19 Opening Weekend of National Park Week,
August 25 99th Birthday of National Park Service,
September 26 National Public Lands Day, and
November 11 Veterans Day.

For more information about Glacier National Park, visit the park’s webpage or contact 406-888-7800.


Riverbank Restoration Project Underway on Buffalo Fork River

This week, Grand Teton National Park advanced a riverbank restoration project to remove approximately 13 tons of old angle iron beams from the Buffalo Fork of the Snake River. Motorists traveling Highway 26/287 past Moran Junction may see a piece of heavy equipment—a tracked excavator—along the riverbank as this restoration project continues.

In 1958, a series of iron beams were placed along the north bank of the Buffalo Fork River by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Public Roads, as part of a stabilization and erosion control project to protect Highway 26/287 from potential flooding. Over the years, the main channel of the river has gradually shifted southward, rendering the decades-old structure obsolete for erosion control. Currently, the large angle iron pieces obstruct wildlife movement through an important riparian area and diminish the natural quality and character of the Buffalo Fork, a major tributary of the Snake River that was designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 2009.

As they became more noticeable and unsightly over time, the presence of the iron beams caught the interest of Giovanni Tabacchi, one of Grand Teton's river patrol rangers. Tabacchi proposed a removal and restoration project and brought his request to the park's resource council committee and park managers. In response, park resource managers requested an assessment by a professional hydrologist as to the necessity for these iron beams and their associated tangle of cables and wires. The hydrologist determined that the apparatus no longer provided a functional purpose and instead, posed an unnecessary hazard to the Buffalo Fork riparian corridor. Grand Teton proposed the removal of these structures in its Snake River Headwaters Comprehensive River Management Plan, completed in 2014. Shortly after, permits were obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and a restoration effort was launched.

In the summer of 2014, a volunteer group coordinated by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF) removed all the cable and wiring that connected the metal beams together, and they unbolted the angle iron tripods. The extensive volunteer work was a first tangible step in implementing the restoration effort.

"It was a labor intensive project that saved the higher cost of having this done through a contractor," said Greg Griffith, JHWF's lead for this volunteer project. "More importantly, there was an immediate benefit because it opened up a quarter mile of the riparian corridor by reducing a waterfowl collision hazard and by eliminating an impermeable combination of wires, cables and metal tripods to enable the movement of moose, elk, mule deer and other wildlife through this key riparian habitat," added Griffith. The JHWF has partnered with Grand Teton and others for two decades to remove or modify more than 170 miles of fencing to benefit wildlife in the park and other valley lands.

Ridgeline Excavation of Jackson, Wyoming was contracted to do the "heavy lifting" portion of the project and is now removing nearly 13 tons of the angle iron beams using the tracked excavator. This portion of the restoration project was greatly aided by the volunteers' work to remove the cables, wiring and tripod bolts. The angle iron pieces will be recycled as scrap metal after their removal.

The contracted restoration work is taking place during the winter, when the ground is frozen and snow-covered, to minimize environmental impacts to the sensitive riparian habitat. Ice bridges have been constructed to support the tracked excavator and reduce impacts to vegetation and soils. In the final phase of the project, JHWF volunteers will return to help the park remove and recycle any remaining metal pieces, and park biologists will plant native willow and alder to accelerate natural regrowth of the disturbed site.

The Buffalo Fork project is the third in a series of recent riparian restoration projects that benefit park resources. In the fall of 2010, Grand Teton worked with Trout Unlimited and other partners to remove the Spread Creek Dam, and in 2013 removed the Newbold Dam near Kelly, also with help from Trout Unlimited. Each of those projects improved fish habitat and passage on tributaries of the Wild and Scenic Snake River.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Original and Historic Paintings Donated to Glacier

Glacier National Park recently received a generous donation of 21 historic paintings from Glacier Park, Inc. The paintings, originally created for the hotels, motels and lodges in the park, include pieces by John Fery, Frank Stick, R.H. Palenske, Charles Defeo and Richmond.

The pieces were originally owned and/or commissioned by the Great Northern Railway, many depicting iconic scenes from in and around Glacier National Park. All of the paintings are estimated to have originated between 1909 and 1915, and have been on display at Lake McDonald Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel, Rising Sun Motor Inn and the Two Medicine Campstore in the park.

The majority of the pieces are oil on canvas paintings. They range in size from 2.5 feet x 1.5 feet, to almost 6 feet x 12 feet. Some are by unknown artists. A plaque commemorating the donation will be placed by each painting.

A condition of the donation was that the paintings remain in the hotels, motels and lodges for which they were created. “We greatly appreciate the willingness of the National Park Service to ensure that the original paintings be displayed in the lodges and properties within Glacier National Park, as they were intended when the Hill Family of the Great Northern Railway commissioned the paintings in the early 1900s. We are pleased that these beautiful images of the park’s history will continue to be enjoyed by many more generations,” said Glacier Park, Inc. Vice President and General Manager Ron Cadrette.

“We are thrilled to receive this wonderful gift from Glacier Park, Inc.,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “These paintings help tell the story of the early tourist accommodations in the park and the connection the railroad had in promoting this area to the nation.”

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc.- Glacier National Park Lodges, will be responsible for the care and maintenance of the paintings through their concessions contract with the park.

Glacier Park, Inc., also known as GPI and a subsidiary of Viad Corp, is currently the owner and operator of two properties within the park: Motel Lake McDonald and Apgar Village Lodge. They also own and operate five other lodging properties in the local vicinity of Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park. Glacier Park, Inc. operated many of the park lodges and hotels as the primary concessioner in the park until 2014.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Winter in Grand Teton National Park

The vast majority of Grand Teton National Park's ~2.5 million visitors come to the park during the summer months. However, winter shouldn't be ignored. In this short video Best Parks Ever offers several reasons why you should visit the Grand Tetons during the winter - namely for the awesome scenery:

If you prefer the warmer weather while visiting the Tetons, be sure to check out our new hiking website to help plan which trails you would like to hike during your visit.


Winter Skills: Tricks for Melting Snow

In this short video Backpacker Magazine offers a few tricks for melting snow. Those that are new to winter camping might find this helpful:


Monday, January 12, 2015

Free Entry into Grand Teton National Park on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Grand Teton National Park will waive entry fees on Monday, January 19, 2015 in recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Grand Teton will join nearly 400 other units of the National Park System in celebration of this special day as part of an effort to encourage visitors to experience the wonders of their national parks. The entrance fee for a private, non-commercial vehicle to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks normally costs $25 for seven days.

In addition to the fee waiver for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Grand Teton will offer free admission on eight other days throughout 2015. The other fee-free dates for the year are: February 14-16 (President's Day weekend); April 18-19 (National Park Week opening weekend); August 25 (National Park Service's 99th anniversary); September 26 (National Public Lands Day); November 11 (Veterans Day).

Visitors to Grand Teton can enjoy many winter activities from auto-touring, wildlife viewing and photography to cross-country skiing, skate skiing and snowshoeing across the snow-covered Teton landscape. A popular winter trail - that spans the unplowed Teton Park Road from Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain Lodge - is open and machine groomed. Grooming takes place each and every Friday thanks to generous support from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Grooming also occurs most Mondays, when weather and park staffing allows. The Teton Park Road winter trail was last groomed on January 7, but should get groomed on Friday, January 9, and again on January 16 before the MLK holiday.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" In honor of a national day of service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Grand Teton National Park's Nordic volunteers will be touring the Teton Park Road to greet visitors, provide support, and offer information to enhance winter visitors' enjoyment of the park.

In addition to skiing, photography and wildlife watching, ranger-led snowshoe hikes take place each Tuesday, Friday and Saturday day at 1:30 p.m. from the Taggart Lake parking area. The two-hour guided walks offer an opportunity to learn about snow science and winter ecology. Reservations are required and can be made at 307.739.3399. Previous experience is not necessary, and snowshoes are available for use during the hike for a suggested donation of $5/person. The Grand Teton Association collects these donations to help maintain the historic wooden snowshoes used for this ranger-led activity.

For complete information about winter activities in Grand Teton National Park or the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, click here. Visitors can also obtain winter season information visiting online, by stopping at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center on North Cache Street in Jackson, or by calling the park's information line at 307.739.3399, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday—Saturday.

If you prefer the warmer weather while visiting the Tetons, be sure to check out our new hiking trail website to help plan which trails you would like to hike during your visit.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Yellowstone Visitation Tops 3 Million For 8th Straight Year

Visitation to Yellowstone National Park in 2014 topped the 3 million mark for the eighth straight year. Overall visitation to the park for 2014 was 3,513,486, up 10.2% from 2013, making it the second highest visitation year on record:


Rank Year Visitation
1)  2010  3,640,184
2)  2014  3,513,486
3)  2012  3,447,727
4)  2011  3,394,321
5)  2009  3,295,187
6)  2013  3,188,030
7)  2007  3,151,343
8)  1992  3,144,405
9)  1999  3,131,381
10) 1995 3,125,285


Nearly 1.44 million people came into Yellowstone through the park’s West Entrance in 2014, which also saw the greatest percentage increase in visitors among the park’s five main gates, up more than 14 percent from 2013 levels.

December visitation to Yellowstone was up 5.53 percent compared to year ago levels, with 18,340 visitors recorded in 2014 compared to 17,378 during the same period in 2013.

In December, 10,778 visitors came into the park’s North Entrance by wheeled vehicles.

Limited snowpack at the start of the oversnow winter season prohibited some snowmobile access for several days, restricting visitor travel on some road segments to snowcoach or commercial wheeled vehicles until conditions improved. For the month, 5,004 visitors entered the interior of the park by snowcoach or commercial wheeled vehicle, while 3,614 entered on guided snowmobile trips.

The last time the park recorded fewer than 3 million annual recreational visits was in 2006, with 2.87 million visits.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Grand Tetons Records Highest Visitation in 36 Years

According to data collected by the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics website, Grand Teton National Park recorded the highest number of visitors in the last 36 years in 2014. During this past year 2,791,393 people visited the park, compared to 2,688,794 in 2013, an increase of 3.8%. Although the highest in the last 36 years, this past years' figure is still well below the record that was set in 1970, when 3,352,500 people visited the park.

Below a graphical look at visitation counts since Grand Teton became a national park. Curiously, the park experienced a massive slump in the 1980s - unlike any of the other parks I track. If anyone has any insight as to why, or what happened during that time period, please feel free to leave a comment.

If you plan to visit the Grand Tetons this upcoming year, be sure to check out our new hiking website to help plan which trails you would like to hike during your visit.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Glacier National Park Sets Record High Visitation in 2014

According to data collected by the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics website, Glacier National Park set a new record high for total visitation in 2014. During the year, 2,337,719 people visited the park, compared to 2,190,375 in 2013, a 6.73% increase. The previous record was set in 1983, when 2,203,847 people visited the park.

Here's a graphical look at visitation counts since Glacier became a national park:

If you plan to visit Glacier this upcoming year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wyoming State Park early bird permit sales underway

Take advantage of one of the best deals around, as well as a gift that provides a year round of adventure and new experiences with the purchase of an Early Bird Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites annual daily use permit.

Persons looking to visit Wyoming’s State Parks and Historic Sites during the next year can save $6 for Wyoming residents and $7 for non-residents on the purchase of annual daily use permits by buying them between January 1, and February 15.

During the Early Bird sale, resident annual daily use permits are $27 and non-resident permits are available for $46.

The Early Bird sale of the annual permits will be underway at selling agents statewide. Permits can also be purchased at most State Parks and Historic Sites, but please call ahead as some parks and sites are closed during the winter months. You can also purchase annual permits online at, or by calling 1-877-996-7275.


Montana State Parks Announces Record High 2014 Annual Visitation

Montana State Parks announced yesterday that in 2014, Montana’s 55 state parks experienced 2.255 million visits; setting record high visitation for the second straight year. From January to December 2014, the statewide visitation numbers show a 3% increase over 2013.

Overall, the North Central Region (Great Falls area) saw the highest annual visitation in 2014 with 593,000 visits, and Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls had the highest visitation for the year of all state parks with more than 316,000 visits.

In addition to record visitation numbers, Montana State Parks also experienced increased participation in volunteerism. In 2014, volunteers dedicated almost 43,000 hours to state park operations and programs which is the equivalent of more than 20 full time employees (FTE). Montana State Parks’ volunteers provide much needed support to the Division’s limited paid staff.

“The growth in our visitation and volunteer support is very exciting,” said Chas Van Genderen, Administrator for Montana State Parks. “Since 2002, annual park use has increased by a million visits. This trend has lead to greater demands for staffing and services in our parks. Our volunteers are vital to meeting those demands. We thank the public for their ongoing support, and look forward to continued growth for years to come.”

The Top 5 Parks for Annual Visitation:

1- Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls (316,483 visits)
2- Lake Elmo State Park in Billings (163,265 visits)
3- Cooney State Park in Roberts (160,070 visits)
4- Spring Meadow Lake State Park in Helena (141,727 visits)
5- Wayfarers State Park in Kalispell (133,473 visits)

For more information on 2014 Annual Visitation click here and then click on 'Parks Planning & Reports'.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Trails Day in the Flathead Valley

The Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE), a network of individuals and organizations working together to increase awareness and understanding about the natural, historical and cultural resources of the Flathead Region, is celebrating Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 10 with several free outdoor activities.

These free activities are a great way to enjoy the outdoors in winter and discover the fitness and social benefits of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Northwest Montana. All activities are suitable for beginners and families. Be prepared with warm clothing and wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots.

* A snowshoe walk on the Flathead National Forest, hosted by the Swan Lake Ranger District and Flathead Audubon, will be at the Blacktail Mountain cross-country ski trails near Lakeside, 10am-Noon. Participants may bring snowshoes, or a limited number of children and adult shoes will be available by reservation. Please meet at the upper trailhead parking area. Reservations are not required. For more information or to reserve snowshoes, please contact the Swan Lake Ranger District at 837-7500.

* Explore Lone Pine State Park on snowshoes. From 10am to 5pm, park visitors can borrow snowshoes and explore the many park trails. Adult and children’s snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A ranger-led snowshoe walk takes place at 1pm. Please contact the park at 755-2706 for more information and to reserve snowshoes for the 1pm walk.

* Join Whitefish Legacy Partners at Stillwater Mountain Lodge and the Whitefish Bike Retreat for a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow ‘fat’ bike riding and winter fun from 10am to 2pm. Participants can ski on the Stillwater Nordic Center’s groomed trails. Bring your own equipment or demo equipment is available on site from the Lodge and Sportsman & Ski Haus. Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center will lead family friendly wilderness skill and animal tracking activities. Across the road from the Lodge, check out a ‘fat’ bike demo or snowshoe on the Whitefish Trail courtesy of several area cycle and outdoor sport shops. For more information contact Whitefish Legacy Partners, 862-3880.

* Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Glacier National Park will be hosted at 10:30am and 2pm. Each hike will last approximately two hours and reservations are not required. Snowshoes are available for hike participants. Visitors need to purchase a park entrance pass. Please meet at the Apgar Visitor Center. Call 406-888-7939 or click here for more information.

* Join the Swan Ecosystem Center for a family snowshoe event at the Holland Lake Day Use Area, south of Condon, MT from 11am to 3pm. Bring your own snowshoes or a limited number of children and adult snowshoes available by reservation. Join a ‘trail trek’ geared for the whole family, warm up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. For more information or to reserve snowshoes call the Swan Ecosystem Center at 406-754-3137.

For more information about local events and Winter Trails Day visit

If you do plan to visit the Flathead Valley for Winter Trails Day, or anytime this winter, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your trip planning.


DIY: Waterproof a Rain Jacket

In this short video Backpacker Magazine shows how to waterproof a rain jacket. This is a very simple process for an older jacket that's lost some of its repellent over the years:


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Snowshoe Walks in Glacier National Park Begin January 10th

Glacier National Park is offering winter snowshoe walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. beginning Saturday, January 10th, Winter Trails Day. This day is celebrated throughout the country as an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and discover the fitness and social benefits of outdoor activities. The snowshoe walks will continue through Sunday, March 22nd.

The public is invited to join the two-hour, ranger-led snowshoe excursions into the park’s winter environment. The program is free. Participants are encouraged to bring snowshoes or they are available to rent for a nominal fee at the Apgar Visitor Center. Participants should wear sturdy winter boots, dress in layers for a variety of winter conditions, and bring water and snacks.

This year, the walks will begin and conclude at the relocated Apgar Visitor Center. There is no group size limit and reservations are not accepted. The snowshoe walks are suitable for varying ages and abilities, but are not recommended for children under age 6.

The snowshoe walks are presented in partnership with the Glacier National Park Conservancy. The Conservancy is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and the official non-profit fundraising partner of Glacier National Park, providing support for preservation, education, and research through philanthropy and outreach. For more information about the Glacier National Park Conservancy click here.

Park entrance fees are required. The park’s winter entrance fee is $15 for vehicles and $10 for single entrants (hiker /bicyclist /motorcyclist) for a seven-day pass. When an entrance station is not staffed, it is the responsibility of the visitor to pay entrance fees at self-pay stations at respective park entrance stations. Annual park passes, which allow visitors unlimited entry to the park for 12 months from the first date of entry, are available for $35. Annual passes may be purchased on weekends from staffed entrance stations, at park headquarters on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by calling 406-888-7800.

If planning to visit Glacier this winter, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Friday, January 2, 2015

The Jenny Lake Rangers: Taking Mountain Rescue to New Heights

Below is an excellent video that shows how the use of short-haul helicopter rescues have improved search and rescues in Grand Teton National Park, thus saving numerous lives over the last several years. The video includes amazing photography and footage - both contemporary and historical. The documentary film was produced by Elizabeth Chambers for the National History Day district competition. It specifically focuses on the Jenny Lake Ranger program.

For more information on hiking in the Grand Tetons, please visit our new hiking website.