Douglas Scott | Oct 28th, 2021

This Week in Yellowstone: October 28th to November 3rd, 2021

Things have drastically slowed down around the park over the past few weeks. News is slow, visitation is low, and much needed snow keeps on falling in the higher elevations. This coming weekend will be the second to last weekend before interior roads close for the season, giving you just a few more days to enjoy the entire park. Since news is slow, this week we get an update on the woman who dove into a hot springs to save her dog, question the headline writers for USA Today’s FTW series, and celebrate the return of a webcam. As usual, I also give next week’s weather forecast for the park, tell you where you’ll have the best luck seeing animals, and give readers my tips and recommended experiences for this time of the year. 

Give it a read, a share and get ready to visit America’s first National Park. If you want to support my weekly park posts, please pick up a guidebook!

BIGGEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

An Update on the Woman Who Tried to Save Her Dog in a Yellowstone Hot Spring

A few weeks back, we shared the story about the woman who tried to save her dog after it left into a hot springs. After the incident, 20 year old Laiha Slayton was placed in a medically induced coma and has second degree burns over 70% of her body with third degree burns covering 20%, according to an article by EastIdahoNews.com. the article says that Laiha’s palms “are completely gone” and doctors are removing dead skin while using cadaver skin grafts to help new skin grow. The dog, Rusty, died.

The hot springs which was the scene of the incident is the Maiden’s Grave Spring near the Firehole River, according to a park news release. The temperature of the thermal feature is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.


OTHER NEWS

The North Entrance webcams are back online!

All summer long, the two webcams at the North Entrance of Yellowstone have been offline. The old entrance station was torn down, replaced with a new one about 100 feet away. Because of this, the webcams showing this area had been offline. This past week, without any fanfare or announcements, the webcams came back online at their new location. 

The webcams not only shows off the majesty of Electric Peak in the distance, but also the famous Roosevelt Arch. The return of the webcams will also help visitors to the park check on the lines that appear during the crowded summer months, helping visitors avoid the longest of wait times. 

Old Faithful Lifestream Is Offline

UPDATE: The Streaming camera is back online, as of October 29th! Give it a watch here!

On October 26th, 2021, a power outage in the Old Faithful Area has resulted in an extended loss of power to the communication equipment for the webcam. The park is currently investigating the cause and hopes to get it fixed soon. The static webcam at Old Faithful is still working, but it isn’t as cool as the livestream. The livestream camera provides a streaming view of Old Faithful Geyser, letting you watch eruptions of Old Faithful, as well as other happenings around the Upper Geyser Basin. When online, it is controlled by volunteers, who scroll around and zoom in when they see anything of interest. They also make sure to stream each and every daytime eruption of Old Faithful. They may also do the evening ones, but it is dark and I am asleep, so I don’t actually know. 

USA Today Has A Dumb Clickbait Headline

The headline screamed “Watch: Oblivious hikers startle Yellowstone wolf pack” and continues by saying “A photographer has captured footage showing two Yellowstone National Park hikers startling a wolf pack at close quarters and continuing as though nothing had happened.” 

My eyes immediately rolled. 

The post in USA Today’s For the Win goes on to talk about how the “clueless” hikers walked within 20 yards of wolves laying down. Viewed from a group of wildlife watched 600 yards away, the article also includes a video with the audio from the video. The article itself is fine, but the headline is clickbaity enough to cause me to cringe. 

So why do I have a problem with it?

The answer is quite simple. Even the most attentive hikers will pass animals without realizing it. While the terrain from a distance appears as if it has wide open lines of sight for the hikers, this is usually not the case. Even the slightest of hills can obscure visibility with ease. The hikers did absolutely nothing wrong, but the headline is written in a way that makes it seem like they were doing something wrong. Sure, they could have looked around more, but if they were only looking for movement, they may not have seen it. 

The hikers were walking off trail, which is allowed. They were looking down while hiking, which is good because the landscape demands attention. The prairie is pockmarked with badger and unit ground squirrel holes, piles of animal feces, sticks, rocks and plants that can easily rip a pair of socks or pants.

A few months ago, along the Slough Creek trail, I watched from a distance as a group of hikers on the trail walked past a bear that they did not see. It was watching them, but from their vantage point, it was not visible. The bear only wanted to eat berries and when they passed, went back to feasting and gorging on the deliciousness. When they reached me, I showed them what they had passed and they were shocked they had passed so close to wildlife without knowing. This happens all the time, which is why the tone of the headline was irritating to me. 

Again, the article is fine, but the headline is one that could be much, much better. I suppose even USA Today needs to drive traffic with unnecessary headlines.


WEATHER FOR THE COMING WEEK

We are now entering the cold weather era of Yellowstone. Lows in the park will be in the 20s or teens, with highs rarely reaching above the upper 30s. There is a chance of rain and snow on Saturday, then the rest of the week should be partly sunny. This may change, so always check ahead on the day you enter the park!

This is the weather.com forecast for the three closest towns to the park- Gardiner, West Yellowstone and Cooke City. While they don’t specifically cover the entire region, these forecasts give a great idea of what to expect all around the region As always, weather can and does change fast in the park, so always be prepared for anything.


WILDLIFE WATCH

Bear sightings will be much more rare this week, as the temperature change will get the burly sows and boars to retreat toward their dens. While they still may be seen in places like Lamar Valley, out near the Petrified Tree, and over by Sylvan Pass, the chances of seeing a bear diminish each day that passes. Instead, you’ll probably start seeing more, coyotes, foxes and even moose. My best luck for the latter two has consistently been around Pebble Creek, toward the Northeast Entrance. I’d also keep an eye out for wolf watchers returning to the park in droves. With the main roads closing soon and snow falling in the park, the winter wolf watchers will be here soon. If you see a car or a group of cars with huge antennas all stopped at a pullout and looking through spotting scopes, definitely stop and see what they see. It’ll probably be because they see a wolf or are waiting for them to reappear.

If you’d like more detailed descriptions of where and when you’ll see wildlife in the park, I wrote a book for that very purpose! Pick up your digital ebook or paperback copy now!


ROADS AND CAMPGROUNDS

Last week’s storm hit a little harder than forecasted, causing closures on many of the park roads for part of the weekend. This time of the year is hit and miss, so one should always be prepared for inclement weather, even when the forecast doesn’t appear to be that serious. Have chains or snow tires, as they may be retired at a moments notice. The main roads that close are Craig Pass south of Old Faithful and Sylvan Pass over the east entrance. However, all park roads can quickly close if the weather is bad enough. This is also the second to last weekend you’ll be able to drive the interior roads in the park for 2021. All interior roads close at 12:01 am on November 8th, except the road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance. This stretch is the only road open year-round to automobiles.

For up-to-date information consult the map above, call (307) 344-2117 for recorded information, or sign up to receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions). Always anticipate possible road closures due to inclement weather and dangerous driving conditions.

Planning on camping in the park this week? 

The two open campgrounds in the park, Lewis Lake and Mammoth, have not been filling up. This is due to both the weather and the time of the year. Mammoth may fill up this coming weekend, but the odds of that happening on both Friday and Saturday are not high. If you are camping, be prepared for cold temperatures! Also, remember that Lewis Lake will be closing on the 7th of November at the latest, so if you want to stay here in 2021, you only have a few more days. You can check the status of campgrounds in the park online here.


Mud pots at Yellowstone

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

As we approach the winding down of full access to the geyser basins in Yellowstone, the next two weeks of highlights will be experiences to enjoy them one last time. Next week, we will talk about walking Norris in the frigid November air, but this week, we head further south. While Old Faithful is obviously a sight to see in the colder weather, this is a great time to hit up Fountain Paint Pots and Grand Prismatic. In the summer, finding parking for either of these spots can be difficult, but right now, you will more than likely have very little company at either. Fountain Paint Pots will be good right now, as some moisture has returned and the boiling mud will have expanded out a little more than the hot, dry summer months. Grand Prismatic late in the season is also way more empty, letting you easily hike the boardwalk and then go and do the overlook trail for two unique views of this world class hot spring. It is extremely difficult to do both on the same day in the summer. 

Be aware that at any geyser basin this time of the year, you’ll encounter more steam than in the summer. The added steam doesn’t make the experience any less special. In fact, it will give you a greater appreciation for just how many steaming spots there are visible from the roads and boardwalk trails.


TIP OF THE WEEK

Missing the park and won’t be visiting it any time soon?

Fear not!

Yellowstone National Park’s webcams are incredible resources to satiate the pangs of longing one has when they are away from America’s First National Park. The park has 10 webcams spread around the park, giving great views of the region. While there are obvious spots where a webcam would be amazing (Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, Lamar Valley, Grand Prismatic, Lehardy Rapids), the ten work well. Two are located on top of Mount Washburn, giving sweeping views from high above the park on clear days. There is also one looking at Yellowstone Lake, two at Old Faithful, one at Mammoth, two at the North Entrance and two at the West Entrance. 

The highlight of the webcams page for Yellowstone has to be the Old Faithful area live stream camera. Once it gets back online, it is a perfect thing to watch when taking a break from work or to relax during. The webcam page also has a link to old webcam videos, with highlights of eruptions of many of the geysers of the region and amazing wildlife videos of when wolves visited the Old Faithful area. You’ll need to scroll down a bit for the wildlife videos. The videos here are always fun to watch and I highly recommend visiting the webcam page often. I click on the every day and if you love the park, you should too!


WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Curious about something not mentioned in the post? 

Send me an email or message on social media and let me know how I can help.