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Mammoth Secrets in Yellowstone National Park

September 12th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs is a place where it seems natural – perhaps advisable – to whisper. And you might just hear the ghosts of this northern region of Yellowstone whisper back.

It is a place where ancient geothermal formations are continuously shape-shifting. It is where the park’s early visitors, explorers and managers sought to claim, tame, manage – and sometimes exploit — its rumbling, other-worldly features. This is where many of the park’s elk spend amorous days dating and mating during the fall rutting season. And where one of the park’s first grand hotels housed weary train passengers before they embarked on their Grand Loop adventure in the park’s interior. 

I recently returned to this region of the park when the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel reopened after a massive renovation. I was thrilled with the results of the year-long project, as it pays tribute to the hotel’s storied past while updating the services and features for future generations of visitors. After settling into my room, I wandered down to the new Map Room Bar to warm up with a Huckleberry Mocha. 

Created by architect Robert Reamer in 1937, the massive map that hangs on the wall of the Map Room has always Read More


Four things I love to do in the fall in...

August 16th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

When fall comes to Cody Yellowstone, the region is transformed from a family vacation hot spot to an adventure-rich adult haven that is unlike anywhere else in the world. This is the time of year when I spend more time savoring my favorite Cody Yellowstone adventures. Here are four of them.

Watching elk and other animals in the wild is another favorite fall pastime.

Wildlife-watching. Although I enjoy wildlife watching year-round, it is an especially thrilling adventure in the fall when the elk are bugling. Fall is mating season, and elk take their procreation duties seriously. Like the Instagramming humans who observe them, elk like to “share” their experiences too – by bugling about them. The shrill, ancient sound made by a male elk in rut reminds me in a goose bump-inducing way that this region is still one of the wildest places on Earth. 

Cody Yellowstone is especially fun to explore by foot.

Hiking. Yellowstone National Park is full of epic hiking trails ranging from easy strolls to heart-pounding climbs. No matter what kind of hike I’m up for, I find that hiking in Yellowstone is especially enjoyable when there are fewer people and cooler temperatures. I booked a room for Read More


Why I have Problems Binge Watching Television

August 6th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

There are times I wish I could sit down and binge watch a series on Netflix, Prime, Hulu or whatever else is out there.

I’ve enjoyed watching episodes of many shows, and some appeal to my sometimes-warped sense of humor. Tony Soprano meeting a friend or rival in front of the Lou Costello Memorial statue made me laugh for days. Better Call Saul is full of subtle references that made me back up and play over because I knew I missed something and wanted to know what it was.

There really is a Lou Costello Memorial Park.

The kids on Stranger Things remind me of my youth, and not just because the soundtrack features favorites like Madonna and Weird Al Yankovic. You know, the giants that were huge influences during my formative years.

The problem is I will start watching a show and something will happen that makes me turn off the television and head out the door. Halfway through an episode of Friends and I was on my way to Rawhide Coffee for a cup of joe. Same thing happened when I tried to watch Twin Peaks.

I loved Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods, but the movie, not so much. Read More


Smokey’s Message Bears Repeating

July 22nd, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

There was a fire in Yellowstone the other day. It was the first wildfire of the year, and it was spotted on a steep rocky slope east of Canyon Village. The National Park Service determined that it was caused by lightning, and it was not a threat to park visitors. A wildfire caused by lightning is not an unusual thing in Yellowstone. The park averages about 35 lightning-caused fires and up to 10 human-caused fires each year.

What struck me about this fire, though, was that it was reported by a group of hikers trekking the Seven Mile Hole trail, a 9.7-mile trail that begins on the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, drops 1,000 feet and then meanders along the Yellowstone River. 

The hikers did exactly the right thing by reporting it, and I’m sure that the fire-management folks in Yellowstone were pleased. Reporting a fire tops a list of fire-safety tips and rules that the National Park Service promotes to visitors as part of an ongoing and aggressive fire-awareness campaign.

While fire-management practices may have changed over the years, fire safety tips have stayed pretty much the same ever since the U.S. National Forest Service launched its Smokey Bear Read More


Quieting Down? Not Even Close

July 9th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Even though we weren’t root, root rooting for our team, the just-completed Cody Stampede always feels like Homecoming Weekend to us here in Cody Yellowstone.

And considering this was our centennial celebration there were more familiar faces than normal along the parade route, in the stands at rodeo, on the dance floor at Cassie’s, bellied up to the bars at the Silver Dollar and Pat O’Haras. 

I had to laugh when some new friends who moved here this spring commented that once the Stampede was done things would quiet down. They did not realize that our summer would hum along for quite a while and that many of our attractions are either open just for the summer or host most of their guests during the traditional vacation months when school is out.

Here are some of my suggestions for activities you should check out before the end of summer:

Experience the rodeo. The Cody Nite Rodeo is often travelers’ first rodeo experience. Open nightly from June 1 through August 31, the rodeo features riders, ropers, bull riders and bronc busters from all over the country.  Watch the wacky Wild Bunch perform a “gunfight” with a gun safety message. The place to be on summer evenings Read More

Ornithologists R Us

May 22nd, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

“Ornithology is for the birds,” I remarked to my friends early this winter while waiting for my daily latte at the local coffee shop. You should have heard the not-so-subtle groans and seen the exaggerated eye-rolling when I uttered those words. I thought I was being clever. I guess I was the only one.

The Cody Yellowstone region is home to more than 300 species of birds. Bald Eagles like this one spotted just a couple of miles from downtown Cody can be found every season of the year.

Better back up. Over the last few months I have become increasingly interested in the raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and other birds who have the great fortune to experience Cody Yellowstone from the sky. My wildlife watching interests had previously been primarily focused on the four-legged kind. Especially the glam species, like bison, elk, wolves and bears.

Then one day last December, in what I estimate was a four-second span, I watched a Golden Eagle soar from the sky and pluck a Goldeneye from a stream, causing this common duck to drop its own dinner of still-flopping trout before it became the eagle’s dinner. A brutal moment. But beautiful too.

A Golden Eagle Read More


The East Gate is Open

May 8th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

If you remember my “Corrie Calendar” you know that I have this strange, mystical and almost creepy ability to tell what the date is – sorta, kinda – based upon weird factors. Just as the smell of leaves burning tells some people to turn on the television to watch college football, I know that roof racks full of skis and snow boards signals the opening of Sleeping Giant and hunting season is upon us when men in fashionable orange clothing are chowing down at the Proud Cut.

And a historic yellow bus heading into town from the direction of the Buffalo Bill Dam means that the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park is open.

Most of the roads inside the park are closed to regular wheeled vehicles during the winter. You can drive from Gardner, Mont. to Mammoth Hot Springs to Roosevelt Lodge and then east through Lamar Valley to Cooke City, Mont. where the road is closed again. The rest of the park roads are open only to over-the-snow vehicles such as snowmobiles and snow coaches. Many of the tracked vehicles, including the famed Bombardiers, have been replaced the past few years by fun modern coaches with oversized tires.

The Lake Yellowstone Hotel is always worth a visit.

So much of Yellowstone Read More


March Madness, Cody Yellowstone Style

March 18th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I have a theory that male grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are college basketball tournament fans.

Cody Country features both black bears and grizzlies (above).

Almost like clockwork, the male of the species emerges from hibernation right around March Madness. Females with cubs, on the other hand, emerge in April/early May, after the NCAA basketball ends.

In 2018 the first bear was spotted March 7, and the National Park Service just sent me a press release saying tracks were found March 8 between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction, but an actual bear was spotted March 11 between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge.

Mama bears and their cubs do not emerge from their dens until April or May.

The announcement did not mention the bear’s favorite team – I’m thinking the UCLA Bruins – but it did provide some good tips when you’re in bear country.

Here they are:

Prepare for a bear encounter.  Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.  Stay alert.  Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night. Do not run if you encounter a bear.  Stay 100 yards away from black and Read More

Lopsided Loving in Wonderland, and Where...

March 8th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

March 1 was Yellowstone National Park’s 147th birthday. Or maybe I should say it was “Wonderland’s” birthday because that’s what a Northern Pacific Railroad advertisement called the world’s first national park in an advertisement promoting the newly accessible destination.

The moniker played on the popularity of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and it effectively awakened the imagination and wanderlust of a generation.

Inspired, and with travel made easier – or at least doable — wealthy Easterners loaded families, servants and steamer trunks and boarded the train for an adventure of the lifetime. And so did the next generation and the generation after that.

Year by year, more visitors came, eventually trading train and stagecoach transportation for private cars, buses, motorcycles and in the winter, snowcoaches. In 1904, nearly 14,000 visitors entered the park. Last year, the number of annual visitors reached 4.1 million.

With that kind of increase, it’s no wonder park-lovers concerned that visitors are overwhelming the park’s fragile eco-system and infrastructure have said that we are loving our beloved Wonderland to death.

I can see their point, but we seem to be loving Yellowstone lopsidedly.

Rangers will tell you that 97 percent of the visitors to Yellowstone experience Read More


The Cody Yellowstone Calendar

March 4th, 2019 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I have two calendars. The first probably looks a lot like yours with 12 months and 31 days hath September and so on. You know, the calendar Julius Caesar reformed in 42 BCE that was refined by the Gregorians in 1582. Everybody knows that, right?

That calendar is where I write things like appointments for haircuts, doctor visits, teeth cleaning and vet checkups.

The second is my “Cody Yellowstone Calendar.” If I were to fall into a “Sleeping Beauty” slumber where I didn’t know how long I was out until a cowboy prince kissed me, I could still tell the time of year by the sights, sounds and smells around me, each offering clues about what is happening and what is about to happen.

Here are some examples and their meanings:

When the plows start clearing the roads in Yellowstone National Park, it’s a sure sign that winter is almost over.

While I was up the Wapiti Valley the other day getting in some late runs at Sleeping Giant Ski Area one of the boarders told me that snowplows (snowplows one word) inside Yellowstone were starting to clear roads. That means winter is coming to end and we should stop climbing waterfalls. When the Read More