Why Yellowstone National Park Needs a Shuttle System

Tourist too close to bison

Yellowstone National Park is exhausted and over-stressed. It’s so heavily visited and trampled in the summers that I believe it’s currently left with only two options. The first option is to completely revamp all the parking lots, consuming and overtaking more natural resources from fragile ground, as well as adding in four-lane highways to account for ever-increasing traffic to an already stressed park. The other option is to close all roads to the majority of motorized traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I don’t doubt that many people would find this preposterous, impossible, and unrealistic, but I argue that the park is currently left either with embracing this option, or continuing to devour its own natural resources in an attempt to scale to meet increasing demand, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

Before getting defensive, there would of course be exceptions, ensuring that Yellowstone’s most frequent and active visitors aren’t affected at all, but first, step back and look at the National Park Service as a continually evolving entity.
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The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Eta-Aquarid Meteor 2013

The annual Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower peaks every year in early May and is the result of the debris field left over from Haley’s Comet. While it’s best viewed in the southern hemisphere, the northern hemisphere can catch some fireworks from it too on the morning of the peak. Though the shower is quiet with infrequent meteors for the northern hemisphere, it’s still known for displaying fantastic fireballs in the sky. The shower radiates from the southeast, from the constellation Aquarius.

I went out into the National Elk Refuge to watch the shower with my girlfriend and another friend early in the morning of the 6th. We bundled up with sleeping bags, and got cozy in the back of my car with the back open to watch the show. With it being early in the morning, well before dawn, we wound up falling asleep without seeing a meteor.
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Northern Lights Over the Teton Mountains

Northern Lights and Meteor

There’s been a lot more activity in the northern lights lately over Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. Many believed the peak of the solar cycle was going to hit last year, which turned out to be a relatively quiet year. With all the activity lately however, some are beginning to question whether we might be hitting the peak now, later than expected.

Regardless, skies have been lighting up recently over the area, with even more on the way! If you’re wondering how to know if they’re out in your area or not, keep an eye on a website called SpaceWeatherLive.com. I check the data listed there every night to see if there’s any chance of seeing them where I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While all the data listed there plays some role, the two main sections that I pay the most attention to are the Direction of the IMF (Bz) and the Kp-Index.
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AZT – Redington Road to Molino Basin

Trail Through Desert Hills

Day 14

This turned out to be my last day on the trail for the season. It was a hard decision to make, but ultimately the trip was poorly timed and I went way over budget on the trip as a whole. It was a decision I came to after thinking about it quite a bit the previous few days on the trail, but on this day it seemed inescapable.

The day started early in the morning while it was still dark outside. There were some scattered showers when I went to bed, but I was woken up in the middle of the night when the wind started to pick up and I heard a nearby crack of thunder, no more than two miles away or so. Nervous, I eventually fell back asleep thankful that that was the only one.

I woke up when it was starting to get lighter out to complete cloud cover, so there was no sunrise that morning.
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AZT – Grass Shack to Redington Road

Rincon Valley Below Mica Mountain

Day 13

I got an early start, leaving camp by 7:15am. It was still nice and cool out so it made for great conditions on the climb up to Manning Camp near the top of Mica Mountain. The other plus was that I was beating the gnats out and could actually enjoy my hike for a bit without being pestered by them.

After a cottontail rabbit jumped into the trees, I noticed that a cloud was perfectly placed to block the sun as the junipers began giving way to ponderosa pines. It wasn’t long at all before I was high up in the forest and the cool air, a very welcome change from the heat of the day before.

At 8,000 feet elevation, Manning Camp is a great escape for locals and a great stop along the Arizona Trail. Having made it up in just under three hours, I decided to stop and have some food and a rest since I was happy with my pace.
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