March 24, 2018

Fishing Heating Up In Island Park

lunkerFirst it was crowds in the thousands for Labor Day, then the power company called for increased stream flows in the Henry’s Fork, all of which led to pretty weak fishing in the river for the last month or two. But temperatures have cooled off, the crowds have gone home, the stream flows are about back to what you’d expect for this time of year and the fishing is really getting good.

And it’s not just the river that’s hot right now. It seems like the fish in the Henry’s Lake are sensing that there’s about to be several feet of ice form, and they’re eating everything you throw at them. That’s especially true for the brookies over by the hatchery, but it’s still good over on the south side by the cliffs as well. Actually, Henry’s is hot no matter where you fish.

Island Park Reservoir is also good right now. Down by Trudes (and the rest of the West end, for that matter) have been really good for both trolling and bait. There have been some lunkers coming out of Island Park Reservoir in the last few weeks so don’t put that boat away just yet.

If you like fishing, this is the time to fish Island Park. No crowds, no overcrowded boat ramps and parking lots, no fly fishermen elbow to elbow in the river. This is the time. So get your gear back out and get up here. Winter’s on the way — no question about that. We’re having snow almost every day. But there’s still plenty of time to catch some late season fish. See you out there!

Makin' The Loop

ennisWe haven’t done a Makin’ The Loop spot for awhile, so I thougt it was about time. Today’s loop is from Island Park to Ennis, from Ennis to Bozeman, from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, and from West back to Island Park. This is an easy day loop with plenty to see and do.

There are many people here in Island Park who make regular runs to Bozeman for food, dining, and recreational opportunities. Of course many go to Idaho Falls for shopping too, but Bozeman and Idaho Falls are about equidistant, and if you’re looking for a change, Bozeman is a great change.

And it’s not just Bozeman, of course. Ennis is a fun town to walk around in for a couple of hours. There are several antique stores, art galleries, real estate offices, and so forth on the main street and everything is within walking distance. One caveat, you’ll want to avoid eating in Ennis. Your get better food and better prices in Bozeman and it’s only 30 – 45 minutes down the road.

If you’re a fisherman, the Madison flows all along the road to Ennis. This is blue ribbon trout water and there are trout shops all along the way where you can buy supplies and licenses, get advice on what’s happening currently and just talk a little fishing with knowledgeable folks.

This is a great loop and I highly recommend it. We do it about once a month, just to break the monotony of going to Idaho Falls all the time. Bozeman is a college town with plenty to do for an afternoon. Plenty of gas, food and other services all along the way, so no worries there. See you on the road!

What Happened To Fall?

This has been a really odd fall in Island Park. Last year we experienced a change in colors that viagra online canada pharmacy was almost indescribable. It started with the trees in September and continued with the ground cover all the way to November. As you drove around it was almost as if the forest was ablaze with all the red, yellow and orange color.

But it hasn’t been that way this year! An early HARD frost (temperatures below zero) in September froze things just like they were. There was no additional change in color. Everything just froze hard and died. Leaves have been ripped from the trees by the pounding of wet, heavy snow coming almost daily. Sure, it gets up to the thirties and forties during the day to melt the snow, but the early signs of winter keep on punishing what’s left of the leaves and ground cover.

But the good news in all this is, the national weather service says this winter is supposed to be warmer and drier than usual. Hmmmm. It’s rained or snowed almost every day in September and October. There have been many days that have been 25 degrees below what we would normally expect for this time of year. There has really been no fall this year (traditionally the most beautiful time to be in Island Park.) We jumped right from summer to winter.

I guess that’s just global warming at work for us. And praise Allah we’ve had it. I can’t imagine where we’d have been this year without it.

5 Lessons Learned About Gardening In Island Park

greenhouseYou know, a lot of people would say this year’s gardening efforts were wasted. I know of many people who got little to no produce from their gardens. But there is more than food that comes from the attempt to grow a garden and this year may have been an especially good teacher.

With that in mind, here are five things I learned this year from my (mostly failed) attempt at gardening here in Island Park:

1. Tomatoes are like candy to bears. If you’re going to grow them (and they are difficult to get a good harvest from) you must do so in grow boxes that can be taken into the garage (or house) at night. It’s not enough to put them up on the porch or hang them from a doorway. Bears will get them wherever you put them unless they are actually inside.

2. You must have some sort of greenhouse to grow food here. Now that doesn’t mean you have to invest thousands of dollars. It means your veggies have to be covered virtually every night of the summer. I’ve seen some “greenhouses” that were as simple as a two foot high frame all the way around the garden covered with viz queen and then a layer that can be pulled over the top at night and pulled back in the morning. Some people use an “A” frame arrangement. It doesn’t matter what you use, but you must use something.

3. You can garden later if you put buckets of water into your greenhouse before you button it up for the night. The water will heat up from the sun during the day and then give off its heat at night. It’s a small thing, but it makes a huge difference. If you use buckets of water you can usually garden clear into October. If not, you’re done in mid September. That could be the difference between having a garden and not.

4. Root vegetables do better than most others. That includes carrots, onions, radishes, potatoes, parsnips, etc., etc. Other veggies that do well here are peas, strawberries, and other crops with a short growing season.

5. You must be long-winded if you’re going to garden here. If you’re the kind of person who gives up with just one failure, you’re going to be out of the gardening business very quickly in Island Park. There is a process to learning how to garden here and it requires patience and creativity.

Gardening can be successfully done here. But like anything else, you have to work at it. you have to twist it and turn it until it makes sense. With food costs rising like they are, a garden is more important now than at any time in recent memory. Use these guidelines to get started and then move on from there.

If you would like to add to my lessons learned, please reply to this post and we’ll get a discussion going. If not, you’re armed with the basics. Get going on your own.

No More Semi-Trucks In Island Park?

trucks1It seems our neighbors to the north are about fed up with the noise, pollution, road degradation and danger of big trucks and are actively pursuing an ordinance preventing them from driving on their roads. Residents of the Madison River Valley from West Yellowstone to Ennis (and from Henry’s Lake to Ennis) have asked the Montana Governor, Attorney General, and Department of Transportation to consider legislation banning the trucks from highway 87 and 287.

What does that have to do with Island Park? Well, if the montanans are successful in their bid to keep trucks off their roads, it will mean there will be no trucks on our roads either. Because most of the truck traffic coming through Island Park takes highway 87 to Ennis then on to points northward. If highway 87 was to be closed, highway 20 (through Island Park) would be a dead end as far as trucks are concerned. The only truck traffic we would see would be trucks heading for West Yellowstone (and that would amount to a miniscule percent of what we have now.

If we’re being completely honest, I have to admit reducing the truck traffic would bring a measure of peace to Island Park I have been missing for some time. On the other hand, however, any time you start telling people where and when they can travel, you’ve just reduced the level of freedom for a whole nation. Not to mention the fact that the increased cost associated with “going around” this area will immediately manifest itself in higher prices for goods and services.

So do I support it? I’m not sure. From a purely selfish perspective there’s a definite upside. From a “common good” perspective, I don’t think it makes very much sense. But the good news is, our friends from the Madison River Valley are wearing the burden on this one. I just hope all sides of this issue are thoroughly considered and that it works out in such a way that it’s good for everyone.

Electric Rates Will Increase In January

Fall River electric co-op announced this week it will raise rates on electricity effective this coming January. While any rate increase is bad news, there is also good news. Rate increases nation-wide have averaged some 23% and the rate we face this coming year is 8.3%.

At the end of the day, nobody wants to see energy prices increase, but the reality is we still enjoy some of the lowest per-kilowatt-hour rates in the country. At less than ten cents an hour, we’re well below all of our neighbors in Idaho and significantly below high-energy-cost states like Alaska, where they pay over thirty four cents and hour.

If this still makes you crazy and you would like more information and a chance to express your displeasure, you can go to and look for information in the “FAQ” section. Then you can raise whatever Cain you think is necessary by going to the “contact us” section. Our advice is roll with the punches on this one. They’re doing the best they can with what they have to work with and they’re still considerably lower than almost anywhere else you can think of.

Early Season Snowmobilers Already Going

fall-snowmobilingWell, I suppose it had to happend sometime. We have a couple of inches of snow and the die-hards are already trying out their new sleds. While we’ve only had about three inches here at Macks Inn, up on Black Canyon they have nearly a foot.

You can ride in a foot of snow as long as you’re darn sure there’s no hidden obstacles to reach out and mangle your undercarriage. So what that means is, if you’re willing to ride nothing but roads, you can ride. If you get off the road at all, you’re going to have a mess.

Last year (kind of pre-winter) I saw a guy at the gas station there at Elk Creek who had just come from the dealer in West Yellowstone. The repair bill on his sled was nearly $4,000. There was precious little snow and he decided to do a wowie on the bank where the road had been carved out. He hit a big rock (apparently disguised as a sagebush) and tore the whole bottom out of his sled.

So if you’re thinking about coming and trying out your new sled, don’t. There isn’t enough snow yet. We’ll let you know the minute there is, but right now the risk is too high. If you just can’t stand the thought that someone got to the snow before you, make sure you never leave the road (or trail.) See you soon!!

Record Low Temperatures Forecast For Island Park

If you haven’t winterized your cabin yet, it just might be too late. Temperatures have been unseasonably cold for the last week and a half or so, but what was bad is going to take another dramatic turn for the worse. Forecast lows for the next couple of nights in Island Park are near zero. That means it could easily be below zero in some areas.

If you have exposed plumbing, you’d better get some heat tape on it right away.

As I write this it is 18 degrees and snowing pretty heavily. When skies clear (if you believe the forecast) later in the day, the arctic express will bring ridiculously cold air from the north. The next several days look like snow and continued cold.

The weather service says temperatures are predicted to be about 25 degrees colder than you would expect at this time of year. Makes you wonder what December and January will bring (maybe those 50′s we have been missing . . . . . Naw. That would be too good to be true.)

Recycling In Island Park

As a person who doesn’t have a bear-proof garbage can, I’m at the Island Park landfill a couple of times a week. And I have to say I’m amazed at the amount of garbage that goes into that place. I mean, we’re a small community. Yes there are many homes here, but on any given day, a large percentage of them aren’t being used. But that doesn’t stop an incredible amount of garbage going into the landfill.

For those who haven’t noticed, the folks over at the landfill have placed bins for those who care about our community and want to do their part by recycling. There are specific bins for glass, cardboard, magazines and newspapers, aluminum, etc. Please note that these are by the entrance to the landfill, not over by where you throw everything else.

Yes, I know it’s inconvenient to separate the garbage. Yes, I know you don’t have room at your home for three or four garbage bins. Yes, I know you’re only here infrequently and it’s not you who is responsible for all the garbage. But at the end of the day, would you rather separate out your garbage or come to a formerly pristine wilderness now dotted with old landfills?

It’s not that hard. Please consider keeping our garbage impact to a minimum by recycling. If everyone just does a little, the result will be huge. Please join all of us here at Island Park dot com and recycle while you’re here. Thanks!!!!

It's Cattle Drive Season In Island Park

cattle-driveWith this week’s snow storms and colder temperatures (highs in the 30′s) cattlemen are calling it a summer. It’s common now and will be for the next couple of weeks to see cowboys on horseback scouring the mountain valleys and high meadows for their cattle. After finding them, they bunch them up and drive them down a road to the loading chutes.

If you’re out and about on four wheelers or in your car, please be respectful of these fine men and women as they go about their business. Cattle don’t do well with motorized vehicles, so please slow down and let them pass you (instead of trying to pass them. If you can find another road, please do so. This will be over soon enough and we’ll all get along better if we can treat each other with courtesy, respect and patience.

If you would like to watch (and perhaps photograph) the cowboys as they do their jobs, you can go to Harriman for the next week or two and watch the work unfold. After that, you’ll have to wait until next year. Snooze you lose!

First Snowfall Of The Season

snowy-roadWow! Snow at the end of September has to be a good sign if you’re a snowmobiler. It started snowing about 5:00 a.m. today and has continued throughout the morning. We’ll see what happens this afternoon. I had heard earlier that El Nino was blowing in this year, which would normally be the harbinger of a “below average” snow year. But who knows when the first storm comes on the last day of Sept.

And it’s odd, in some ways. Yesterday was a beautiful native american summer day with temps in the low 70′s and severe clear blue skies. Everyone here said, “No, there’s now way it will snow tomorrow. It’s too warm.” But overnight the temperatures dropped into the 20′s and we’re headed for a high today only in the mid 30′s. My dad would tell you that even the brass monkeys are pulling out their long underwear.

Of course summer’s not over. There will be many beautiful days yet to come. But with the cold making its arrival so soon, there will start to be more and more cold days as well. What all this means to me is that fishing is going to be getting real good here in a couple of weeks. If you’re a fisherman, you don’t want to miss that. Of course, if you’re a snowmobiler, you’ll be praying for an early start to the season.

Whichever way you see it, this is a great time to be in Island Park. No crowds. No competition for the streams and trails. No overbearing heat. Just a quiet, pleasant, crisp and cool atmosphere in which to recharge your batteries. See you soon.

Harriman Park Still Going Strong

harrimanIf you haven’t been in Harriman in the fall, you haven’t been to Harriman. The park is beautiful as the colors start to change and the elk start to bugle. It’s like stepping back in time about 3,000 years. The sounds are prehistoric.

I remember by first foray into Harriman in October. It was crisp and cold in the morning and we rode horses across the big meadow and into the forest beyond. A few calls in the elk bugle brought big bulls right up to where we were. There is something magical about watching one of these monarchs of the forest raking their antlers through the trees and pawing the ground.

But it’s more than elk, as I’ve come to learn. The horse flies are gone, the ducks and geese are everywhere, the air and water are crisp, cold, clear, and beautiful. All trails are still open and they have something for everyone. You can walk or ride horses. You can take trails a few hundred yards long along the river or head into the mountains and hike as far as you want.

Rangers recommend bear spray, and bells to wear as you hike along to deter bears who are aggressively getting ready for a long winter’s nap. Of course no guns are allowed in the park, so if that’s your normal mode of protection, you’d better stop and pick up some spray.

Don’t miss the fall colors this year. It’s going to be a great year for photography, so bring your camera and we’ll see you there!

Bear Spray — Accept No Substitutes

bear-sprayAs hunters take to the field, bears are near the top of their safety concerns — and for good reason. The number of grizzly bears has increased dramatically over the last 20 or so years, and bear encounters in the wild are occurring more and more frequently.

The Island Park ranger station is encouraging people to use bear spray instead of bullets. They contend that bear spray will stop a bear with great certainty than bullets (which may go off target in a moment of panic.) They also point out that by using the bear spray, both the hunter and the bear can live to fight another day.

The ranger station has stated that most people who have not been successful with using spray on bears were using pepper spray or personal defense sprays, and not actual bear spray. They point out that only real bear spray has the necessary punch to stop a bear (which makes me wonder what it would do to a potential rapist?) So if you’re going to rely on bear spray, be sure you accept no substitutes.

In the interest of complete disclosure, opponents of spray (who are also proponents of guns) point out that for the spray to be effective, you have to use it within 25 feet. Some people don’t want to wait until a big ol’ angry grizz is within 25 feet to find out whether or not it works. Personally, I’d say you have to have pretty big cojones to stand, can raised with a perfect self-restraint, until a charging grizzly is within 25 feet.

At the end of the day, neither guns nor bear spray are for the faint of heart. For more information contact Lynn at the Island Park ranger station 208-558-7301.

Bicycle Yellowstone This Weekend

cycling-yellowstone1If you’ve always wanted to take a great bike ride in Yellowstone but were intimidated by the traffic, now is your chance to join a large group of cyclists riding from West to Old Faithful and back. There is no restrictions on what kind of bike you can use (except it can’t have a motor,) and you don’t have to be a certain age.

That said, the length of the ride is 57 miles over rolling terrain and the average elevation is over 6,000 feet, so it’s probably for people who are pretty fit. Food stations will be available at Madison Junction and at Old Faithful and a “sag wagon” will be available to pick up those whose “eyes are bigger than their stomachs.”

Pre-registration is required, so you have to get squared away before you come. For more info on cost and registration, etc. call 406-599-4465. They will take care of everything for you. Don’t wait. The ride is this Saturday and remember, pre-registration is required. See you in West.

Number Of Yellowstone Visitors Way Up This Year

morning-gloryYellowstone National Park had a banner year this year with over 2.3 million visitors. With the price of gas being down and people travelling closer to home, the park enjoyed a daily influx of roughly 26,000 people. If you propose an average of 3 people per vehicle, that’s about 8,600 cars per day (which didn’t have near the apparent impact on animals and the environment that 300 snowmobiles would.) Multiply that by $25 per car, and we’re talking over $200,000 per day in park entry fee revenues. That would be the reason they don’t dare limit the number of cars each day like they do snowmobiles.

But I digress . . .

Of those roughly 26,000 daily visitors, about half used the west entrance to the park, which means a large percentage of them passed through Island Park as well. This was a good year for local businesses. Many of those passing through stopped for lunch or dinner, for gas, for a float trip, to fish (and buy fishing supplies,) to ride ATV’s, to hike or bike. The bottom line is when Yellowstone has a good year Island Park does too.

Yes, that means we don’t go to the park between Memorial Day and Labor day (so we don’t have to fight the crowds.) It also means we have to just slow down and take our place in line when we go to the valley. But at the end of the day, it’s those people that make the life of many of our friends and neighbors here in Island Park possible.

So if you’re not from here, thank you for coming and making our lives possible. We’re happy to share it with you and hope you enjoy it. I don’t know that we’ll leave the light on for you, but you will always be welcome when you knock on the door. Thank you for making this a good year for us and please know that we appreciate your business!