The Dangers of Wildlife: Bison Rams SUV in Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming BisonIt’s common knowledge that wildlife can be unpredictable and dangerous; however, it’s sometimes helpful to share wildlife encounter stories as a reminder.  On February 26th, an SUV was traveling along the north road between the North and Northeast Entrances of Yellowstone National Park (it’s the only road open year-round in Yellowstone).  The SUV was stopped with the engine shut off as a group of bison approached.  One bison continued its approach at a dead run and rammed the SUV causing significant damage.  It does not require much imagination to consider what could happen if such an encounter occurred with a park visitor outside of the vehicle.

The summer season is rapidly approaching, and many of us will be planning a summer adventure in one of America’s numerous national parks.  Please remember that although the wild animals you may see appear to be docile, they are quite unpredictable and can be dangerous.  Never feed wildlife, and do not approach them.  Always maintain a safe viewing distance of 100 yards from bears, and the same is recommended for other large animals such as moose, elk, and bison.  They are large animals, and they can run faster than you (up to 35 miles per hour).  You can read the complete article and view a video of the bison encounter at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/03/bison-yellowstone-national-park-/24354303/

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2015 Yellowstone National Park Opening & Closing Dates

Camper Trailer In Yellowstone2015 Road System

Weather permitting, roads open at 8:00 a.m.  Changes and delays are always possible.

2015 Spring Opening Dates

April 17: Mammoth to Old Faithful; Madison to West Entrance;Norris to Canyon.
May 1: Canyon Junction to Lake;Lake to East Entrance (Sylvan Pass).
May 8: Lake to South Entrance;Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
May 22: Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass); Beartooth Highway.
June 11: Old Faithful to West Thumb (Craig Pass).

2015 Fall Closing Dates

October 13: Beartooth Pass and Dunraven Pass close
November 2: All roads except the road between the North and the Northeast Entrances

Bridge Bay

  • Campground: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 7.
  • Dock Rental: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 13.
  • Marina Store: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 7.
  • Boat Tours: Opens June 15, closes Sept. 13.
  • Scenic Cruiser: Opens June 15, closes Sept. 13.

Canyon Village

  • Yellowstone Adventure Store: Opens April 17, closes Nov. 2.
  • Service Station (credit card service at all pumps): Opens May 1, closes Oct. 19.
  • Wrecker Service: Opens May 1, closes Oct. 11.
  • Canyon General Store: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 11.
  • Repair Service: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 7.
  • Canyon Visitor Education Center: Open (lobby).
  • Canyon Campground: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 13.
  • Canyon Lodge/Cabins: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 19.
  • Cafeteria: Open May 23, closes Sept. 13.
  • Trail Rides: Opens June 23, closes Sept. 6.

Fishing Bridge

  • Fishing Bridge RV Park: Opens May 8, closes Sept. 20.
  • General Store: Opens May 8, closes Sept. 24.
  • Service Station (credit card service at all pumps): Opens May 8, closes Sept. 20.
  • Wrecker & Repair Service: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 7.

Grant Village

  • Mini Store: Opens May 15, closes Sept. 28.
  • Lodging and Restaurant: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 26.
  • Lake House Restaurant: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 20.
  • Wrecker/Repair Service: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 7.
  • Service Station: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 27.
  • Grant General Store: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 21.
  • Grant Campground: Opens June 21, closes Sept. 20.

Lake Village

  • Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 4.
  • Lake Dining Room & Deli: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 4.
  • Lake Hotel Cabins: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 4.
  • Lake Clinic: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 19.
  • Lake General Store: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 21.
  • Lake Lodge & Cabins: Opens June 10, closes Sept. 27.
  • Lake Lodge Cafeteria: Opens June 10, closes Sept. 27.

Mammoth Hot Springs

  • Albright Visitor Center: Closed for renovations. Temporary visitor center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Mammoth General Store: Open all year, but might be closed on Sundays and some holidays.
  • Terrace Grill Fast Food: Open April 24, closes Oct. 18.
  • Mammoth Gift Shop: Opens April 24, closes Oct. 18.
  • Mammoth Hotel/Cabins/Dining Room: Opens May 1, closes Oct. 12.
  • Service Station: Opens May 18, closes Oct. 5.
  • Mammoth Campground: Open year-round.

Old Faithful

  • Old Faithful Visitor Center: Open.
  • Snow Lodge Geyser Grill Fast Food/Bear Den Gift Shop: Open now, closes March 15. Opens April 17, closes Nov. 1.
  • Old Faithful Snow Lodge Rooms, Cabins and Restaurant: Opens May 1, closes Oct. 18.
  • Service Station (lower): Opens May 1, closes Oct. 11.
  • Old Faithful Upper General Store: Opens May 1, closes Oct. 12.
  • Wrecker Service: Opens May 1, closes Oct. 11.
  • Old Faithful Inn, Gift Shop, Dining Room, Bear Paw Deli: Opens May 8, closes Oct. 11.
  • Old Faithful Lodge: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 9.
  • Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 9.
  • Old Faithful Lodge Gift Shop, Bake Shop: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 9.
  • Old Faithful Clinic: Opens May 15, closes Oct. 2.
  • Service Station (upper): Opens May 29, closes Sept. 14.
  • Old Faithful Lower Store (basin): Opens May 22, closes Sept. 28.
  • Repair Service: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 7.

Tower/Roosevelt

  • Tower Fall General Store: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 17.
  • Tower Junction Service Station: Opens June 6, closes Sept. 1.
  • Roosevelt Lodge/Cabins: Opens June 5, closes Sept. 7.
  • Horse Rides/Stagecoach: Opens June 5, closes Sept. 6.
  • Roosevelt Store: Opens June 5, closes Aug. 31.
  • Cook-Out: Opens June 6, closes Sept. 12.

Concession Campgrounds

  • Bridge Bay: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 7.
  • Canyon: Opens May 29, closes Sept. 13.
  • Grant Village: Opens June 21, closes Sept. 20.
  • Madison: Opens May 1, closes Oct. 18.
  • Fishing Bridge RV Park: Opens May 5, closes Sept. 20.

Park Service Campgrounds

  • Indian Creek: Opens June 12, closes Sept. 14.
  • Lewis Lake: Opens June 15, closes Nov. 1.
  • Mammoth: Open all year.
  • Norris: Opens May 15, closes Sept. 28.
  • Pebble Creek: Opens June 15, closes Sept. 28.
  • Slough Creek: Opens June 15, closes Oct. 7.
  • Tower Fall: Opens May 22, closes Sept. 28.

Death Valley National Park an Excellent Spring Destination

Spring is an excellent tDeath Valley Dunesime to visit Death Valley National Park. The temperatures are not extremely hot like those seen during the mid-summer months. Top lodging options include Furnace Creek Inn, Furnace Creek Ranch, Stovepipe Wells Village, and Panamint Springs Resort. Furnace Creek Inn offers the most luxurious accommodations, but they are also the most expensive. The other lodges offer a comfortable stay at more economical rates. Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, backpacking, and bird watching. Some of the popular things to see include Badwater (lowest point in the U.S. at 282 feet below sea level), Artist’s Drive, Golden Canyon, Titus Canyon, Scotty’s Castle, and the Racetrack. Spring is a busy time in Death Valley, because many visitors prefer the milder weather. So, be sure to plan your trip early and make reservations for lodging as much in advance as possible.  To reserve lodging at the Furnace Creek Inn or Furnace Creek Ranch, call Xanterra Parks & Resorts at 1-800-236-7916.  For Stovepipe Wells, call (760) 786-2387.  For Panamint Springs Resort, call (775) 482-7680. 

Grand Canyon National Park Offers Year-Round Adventure

Grand Canyon SunriseGrand Canyon National Park was formally established as a national park in 1919, a year in which it received 44,173 visitors.  Today, Grand Canyon offers the same majestic scenery that it did in 1919 although it is visited by millions of people from around the world each year.  The park is extremely popular; and like most popular parks, the lodging and activities in Grand Canyon can sell out months in advance.  Lodging options include the luxurious El Tovar Hotel, Maswik Lodge, Yavapai Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and the world-famous Phantom Ranch which lies on the Canyon floor.  If lodging sells out inside the park, there are also options just outside the park entrance in the small town of Tusayan, Arizona with lodges such as the Grand Hotel and the Red Feather Inn.

Grand Canyon offers visitors access to year-round adventure with activities such as day and overnight mule rides, treks to Phantom Ranch, helicopter and jeep tours, smooth water float trips, and multi-day whitewater adventures on the mighty Colorado River.  Many visitors choose to explore the park through day hikes or overnight backpacking trips.  However, all visitors must remain vigilant to ensure a safe and enjoyable Grand Canyon experience.  Bring plenty of water even if you’re simply going on a short day hike as the temperature can rise quickly during the day, especially as you descend into the Canyon.

Spring break is a very busy time for Grand Canyon National Park, so you may try to plan your next visit outside of March and April.  For lodging inside the park, contact the authorized concessioner (Xanterra Parks & Resorts) at (888) 297-27257.  Xanterra can also assist you with your mule ride and Phantom Ranch reservations.  For helicopter tours, contact Papillon Tours at 888) 635-7272.  For jeep tours, call Grand Canyon Jeep & Safari Tours at 800-320-5337.  For Grand Canyon whitewater rafting adventures, contact Grand Canyon Whitewater at 888-343-3121.  These respected lodging and tour operators will be happy to help you plan your once-in-a-lifetime Grand Canyon adventure!  People from all over the world are planning their next Grand Canyon vacation now, so you should too.  Don’t wait – plan early and take advantage of the best availability for lodging and activities!

Introduction to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park Entrance
Yellowstone National Park North Entrance

Welcome to America’s first national park!  Yellowstone was established in 1872 by act of Congress, and today the park encompasses more than 2.2 million acres of wilderness.  Yellowstone is a diverse ecosystem that is home to a variety of species of wildlife including grizzly and black bears, wolves, elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and many others.  The park also contains the world’s largest concentration of geysers, including the world-famous Old Faithful Geyser.

There are five entrances to the park – north, south, east, west, and northeast.  The road system inside  Yellowstone National Park is laid out like a figure eight with the upper loop covering the northern half of the park and the lower loop traversing the southern half.  There are several lodging options from which to choose inside the park including the Old Faithful Inn, Canyon Lodge, Lake Hotel, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Roosevelt Lodge, Grant Village, Lake Lodge Cabins, Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and Old Faithful Lodge Cabins.  Lodging inside the park often sells out months in advance due to the popularity of Yellowstone.  However, there are also excellent lodging options just outside of the west and north park entrances.  West Yellowstone, Montana (the west entrance) offers a variety of lodging options along with attractions such as the  Yellowstone IMAX Theater, the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, and the Yellowstone Museum.  Gardiner, Montana (the north entrance) also offers convenient lodging just a few miles north of Mammoth Hot Springs.  For those visitors who feel lucky, there are casinos with keno machines and live poker tables in West Yellowstone and Gardiner.

While you’re certain to see wildlife from the road as you drive through the park, you should consider a hike into the wilderness.  Even if it’s only a short hike off the road, you’ll see and experience the park from a different perspective if you venture into the wild.  Stay on the trails and following directions provided on trail signs.  Also, don’t forget your camera as you may see one of the countless natural wonders that Yellowstone has to offer.

There are a number of other activities that visitors may choose to experience including white water rafting in Gardiner, horseback rides in the park, guided tours, and the Roosevelt western cookout.  We recommend that you plan to visit the park for at least five days in order to comfortably explore all of its regions and major attractions.  Be sure to visit the Old Faithful geyser basins, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, the petrified forest, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, Fishing Bridge, and the mud volcano.  There’s so much to see, and the adventure of a lifetime awaits you.  Don’t delay, plan your next Yellowstone National Park adventure today!  For more information about the park, visit our Yellowstone National Park website at http://www.mynationalparks.com.

Yosemite National Park Popular as a Vacation Destination

Yosemite National Park at SunsetIf you’re considering a national park vacation this summer, add Yosemite to your list.  Established in 1890, Yosemite National Park includes 747,956 acres of scenic land.  The park receives more than 3.5 million visitors each year, so it’s wise to plan early if you’re interested in an overnight stay.  Lodging in the park can sell out months in advance due to its popularity.

Yosemite National Park offers visitors an abundance of outdoor opportunities such as hiking, rock climbing, camping, mule rides, backpacking, biking, fishing, bird watching, and more.  Even if you’re a novice in the outdoors, classes and guided experiences are available to make Yosemite’s outdoor opportunities accessible to all.  For example, Yosemite is known for its world-class rock climbing opportunities.  For those park visitors interested in a climbing adventure, climbing lessons and guided climbs are available through the park concessioner.

Guided mule rides are another popular activity in Yosemite National Park, and visitors can choose between two-hour and half-day rides.  Mule rides are a unique way to experience Yosemite Park, and they offer visitors a way to see more of the park than what can be observed from an automobile.  Riders must be at least 7 years of age, at least 44 inches tall, and weigh 225 pounds or less.

The park offers a variety of lodging options including the famous Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, Wawona Hotel, and the Lodge at Yosemite Falls.  Lodging inside Yosemite National Park is managed by the authorize concessioner, DNC Parks & Resorts.  Just outside the south entrance of the park, visitors can stay at the luxurious Tenaya Lodge.  Just outside the west side of Yosemite Park, visitors will find lodging at Yosemite View Lodge and Cedar Lodge in El Portal, California.  Due to Yosemite’s popularity, lodging often sells out well in advance.  The good news is that there’s still plenty of time left to plan your next national park adventure for this summer.  If you start making your plans soon, you should be able to find adequate availability for both lodging and activities.  Get out there, and experience your national parks this year!