Do It Yourself Yellowstone

BETTER THAN A COMMERCIAL TOUR

virtual.jpgIf you are serious about your visit to Yellowstone: plan a little. Remember, the pap and pablum served by the commercial tours is designed to keep you entertained and generate gratuities.

Jokes, ribald tales, personal anecdotes, current social commentary, and other ploys are used to entertain. Some of the guides are very good at this, and it is entertaining. But, it’s like watching Jay Leno to get accurate world news – hardly substantial.

Should you choose to enjoy Yellowstone in any depth, a little time at your computer will yield enormous rewards. I took mom for a ride through the park the last few days. After day one she wanted to know about things that I wasn’t familiar with. Together we perused the available offerings on the web, and found what we wanted: quickly.

Of course the Yellowstone National Park web site was useful but hard to navigate. There are, however, three commercial web sites that are full of information and much more visitor friendly. And if it’s geysers you want visit GOSA.

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webby-0.gifThe WEBBY winner YellowstonePark.com is a magnificent site. It has a personal trip planner that you can build and then print or download. It has pod-casts that you can carry with you. It has videos of some attractions, and it is a very complete, (though highly commercial,) compendium of tourist attractions in and near to Yellowstone National Park. The navigation is logical and easy and it invites just one more click.

Yellowstonenationalpark.com is a site with similar attractions and includes some driving tours that summarize each road segment in the park. It is a bit more verbose, but no less informative than the Webby winner.

ttl-yel-scrnsht.gifThe Total Yellowstone Page, is a navigation nightmare. It’s a hodgepodge of information that seems to have grow’d just like Topsey. There is good information here, just spend the time and clicks to ferret it out. Thank God for Firefox.

All three sites have excellent fishing sections and I, (just like a girl,) believe everything that they say: contradictory though they may be.

These three will get you started on a visit that will be informative as well as entertaining. The visitor centers in the park are useful but seem more like “eye candy” than learning centers. They are understaffed and there is no way that the seasonal rangers have the answers to the questions that you will ask – after all, they just got there themselves.

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The Yellowstone fishing season opens in the park on Memorial Day Weekend. I’m going to join the rush to the Firehole. The fishing regulations for the park can be viewed HERE (PDF). There is a new section entitled “Yellowstone Fish Reports” that includes some recent investigative reports. One of the reports, “Effects of Snowmobile Emissions on the Chemistry of Snowmelt Runoff in YNP” is an attempt to describe the effects of accumulated emission products in the snow and the ‘toxic shock’ to fluvial systems. The separation methods are a bit sketchy, and attribution to only snowmobiles is a little stretchy; still fishermen should be more concerned than they are.

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On a similar note: the Billings Gazette has a tally of the ridiculous gyrations Yellowstone has gone through with the “snowmobile issue.” The cost is up to $10,000,000 and climbing.

I still think that plowing of the roads is the only rational solution. Rationality, (not being in the vocabulary of the YNP planners,) will come about in the next 10 years through more law suits and the effects of global warming. Oh, well!

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And, don’t worry about the cost to visit Yellowstone National Park. According to John Krist it’s only “89 cents per person, per day.” At that rate the parks should raise their fees 1,000-fold: such a deal! After all, plumbing that works would be a novel concept.

Click over to Park Remark & the comments for a less rosy and more realistic view of park fees and service. At 89 cents we’re probably still paying too much.

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