Yellowstone National Park Opens For Winter Season Tomorrow

Yellowstone National Park in winterThe National Park Service has announced that Yellowstone National Park will open for the winter season beginning tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. Visitors will be able to gain access to the park via the North, South and West Entrances and travel is allowed on interior roads via commercially operated snowcoaches or on guided snowmobile excursions. Also opening for the season starting tomorrow will be the Geyser Grill, the Bear Den Gift Shop, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, all centrally located near Yellowstone’s star attraction, the Old Faithful geyser. Other lodges and restaurants around the park, as well as its East Entrance, are expected to open next week.

Established in 1872, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains incredibly popular to this day. On an annual basis, the park attracts in excess of 3.3 million visitors, but only about 100,000 of them actually come during the winter. That means that travelers who venture into Yellowstone during the colder months will find a pristine and serene setting that is free from the crowds that are common during other times of the year.

I was fortunate enough to visit Yellowstone during the winter a few years back and found it to be an amazing travel experience. The place is so vast that you can spend the whole day cross country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing, and never run into another person. The wintery landscapes are simply breathtaking and when intermixed with all of the geothermal activity, the park truly takes on an otherworldly look at times. Additionally, much of the wildlife that Yellowstone is so famous for is at a lower elevation and easier to spot during the winter months. Bison, elk and even wolves are common sights, although the bears are all sleeping comfortably in their dens.
Yellowstone is one of my favorite parks any time of the year, but during the winter, it goes to a whole new level. If you’re looking for a great winter escape for 2013, then definitely consider visiting the park. I recommend staying at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel or Old Faithful Snow Lodge to get the full experience.

If you do go, be sure to bundle up in your warmest clothes and pack your sense of adventure. You’ll need them both!

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

Photo Of The Day: Buffalo In Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is among our country’s most famous, and arguably most beautiful, natural wonders. In addition to dramatic scenery, the park is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including elk, wolves, bears and that most iconic of symbols from the American Plains: the buffalo. I love the lighting, the idyllic setting and most importantly, the herd of buffalo grazing in today’s photo of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, courtesy of Flickr user Max Waugh Photography.

Taken any great photos of our nation’s national parks? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Max Waugh Photography]

The Worst-Smelling Towns In America

cattleLast week, I was in Eureka, California, for a couple of days with my parents and brother’s family. Despite the cute, historic downtown and an epic feast at the renown Samoa Cookhouse, our overwhelming impression of this coastal city is that it should be renamed “Eureeka,” because it stinks – literally.

The stench of … bait fish? Fish meal or perhaps cat food processing enveloped our hotel, and that’s just not an aroma that stimulates the pleasure center of the brain. It was like living in a bucket of chum.

My niece and nephew, 12 and 16, respectively, suggested I write a piece for Gadling on the stankiest places in America, and I’m more than happy to oblige. In addition to personal picks, my fellow Gadsters were only too happy to (cow) chip in.

Coalinga, California
Anyone who’s driven I-5 past the famous cattle stockyards knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Yellowstone National Park, and Thermopolis, Wyoming
These two famous attractions may stink of sulfur, but they’re worth putting up with the fumes.

Pago Pago, American Samoa
Think giant fish cannery.fishChinatowns, everywhere
Special mention goes to NYC on a breezeless summer’s day.

Greeley, Colorado
Let’s just say that being the home of one of America’s largest beef abattoirs has far-reaching consequences if the wind is right, which it usually is.

Gilroy, California
Depending upon your feelings about garlic, the nation’s largest producer of the stuff is heaven or hell (personally, I choose the former).

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Its unofficial nickname is “The City of Five Smells,” due to the grain processing plants located there. Like roasting coffee, not always an olfactory pleasure.

Gary, Indiana
According to one Gadling contributor, this city famously smells like, “coke (a coal by-product), steel, and sadness.” Apologies to residents of Gary but this one came up more than once.

Got any picks of your own? We’d love to hear your votes for America’s smelliest town!

[Photo credits: cattle, Flickr user St0rmz; fish, Flickr user amandamandy]

How to Prevent Fish Smell

Canon Offers Free Photography Workshops In US National Parks

Yellowstone Park, site of a national park photography workshop from CanonCamera manufacturer Canon has once again teamed up with the American Park Network to offer free photography and videography workshops in U.S. national parks. These workshops, which include video for the first time, will be available in a variety of locations and offer park visitors a chance to learn new skills, or hone existing ones, in some of the most photogenic environments on the planet.

The Photography in the Parks program has already been wrapped up in the Grand Canyon, Zion and Yosemite National Parks this year, but new opportunities begin in other parks as early as today. For example, workshops in Yellowstone run from July 21-31 and are held three times daily. Anyone wishing to participate can join in the fun at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Old Faithful Lodge. Participants are encouraged to arrive 15-30 minutes early. Other upcoming workshops will be held in Grand Teton National Park (August 1-2), Rocky Mountain National Park (August 5-11) and Acadia National Park (August 18-29).

Instructors will be on hand to provide tips on how to get the most out of your digital camera or camcorder. They’ll also have a variety of Canon products available to test as well, including their wonderful EOS DSLR cameras, EF lenses, PowerShot point and shoot and Vixia camcorders. Those expert photographers will demonstrate fun and creative ways to capture the exact photo you’re trying to achieve.

For more information check out the Photography in the Parks website and start making your plans to sit in on one of these classes soon. This is a great opportunity to get a free workshop that could improve your travel photography skills.

Video: The Beautiful Sights And Sounds Of Yellowstone

Yellowstone's great landscapes and soundscapes captured on videoYellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful locations in all of North America. Its lush forests, snow-capped peaks and unique geothermal activity make it a place that is unlike any other. Those amazing landscapes have been admired by visitors for more than 140 years, but now the park is being recognized for its amazing soundscapes as well.

The video below gives us some great examples of both the landscapes and the soundscapes of the park, where the wildlife, running rivers, geothermal features and other natural elements all blend together to create a sensory experience that will delight visitors of all ages. The howling of a wolf, babbling of a brook and rushing of the wind all contribute to making Yellowstone a special place, and the National Park Service wants to preserve those sounds as much as the sights.

This video was added to Yellowstone’s new YouTube channel a few days ago as the park continues to expand its use of social media. In addition to YouTube, Yellowstone now has a Twitter feed, Facebook page and a Flickr stream, and fans of the park will no doubt find something to like in each of them.