March 20, 2018

Get Into Yellowstone For Free!

yellowstone-entranceIf you’re tired of paying the exorbitant fees to get into Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, you’re in luck. The park service has announced they will be waiving the entry fee on one weekend each month this summer. During those weekends, visitors will enter for free!

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The weekends are as follows: June 20 – 21, July 18 – 19, and August 15 – 16.

The park service estimates they will lose about $1 million dollars in revenue for each free weekend. Let’s see, if they charge $25 per car, there are a lot of cars entering the park on an average weekend. The good news is the park received $750 million in stimulus money for this year (thank you to everyone who will pay for that for years to come.) Hmmmmm. . . The free weekends cost them $3 million and they get $750 million in stimulus money. I wonder where the other $747 million is going?!?

Summer Employment Available

help-wanted1If you’re always wanted to live in paradise, there are still a few summer jobs available here in Island Park. Of course most are in the hospitality industry, but there are others as well. The great thing about jobs in the hospitality industry is they often come with some sort of housing.

If you’ve been thinking about spending the summer up here, check now. Positions are limited and they fill quickly. The chamber of commerce can give you a list of people to contact if you don’t know anyone yourself.

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Fisherman's Breakfast This Friday

pancakeUnless you have been living on the moon (or outside the promised land,) you know that the Friday before the fishing opener is the big pancake breakfast in St. Anthony, Idaho. I’m not sure when this tradition started, but I can remember partaking back in the early ’60′s.

This is a not-to-be-missed, annual event. Free breakfast. All you can eat. All compliments of the fine folks in St. Anthony. My advice is this: anytime you can get free food (especially free food that tastes this great) you should stop and eat it. You won’t be sorry.

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The even is held in the park by the river just north of the main St. Anthony exit. There is plenty of parking, plenty of food, plenty of good conversation and no reason at all not to come. Breakfast is served from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

See you there!!!

Holiday Preparations Nearly Complete

fishWell, the roads are starting to open up now. The road to Big Springs has been opened, the Chick Creek road is mostly open (at least so you can get to the scout camp,) the Red Rock Road is mostly open now (and should be clear over to Elk Lake soon.) You can drive all the way around Henry’s Lake now.

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But all the higher roads are still snowed in. You won’t be able to get over Black Canyon for another couple (or more) of weeks. You won’t be able to get down the Stamp Meadows road for another couple of weeks. and the road to Coffee Pot campground still has three feet of snow, so it will be awhile before anyone’s fishing Coffee Pot. But the lakes and and the rest of the rivers all have good access already and should be good to go for Memorial Day.

Temperatures are still in the 30′s at night and high 40′s during the day. It’s brisk but not particularly cold (unless you’re from Arizona,) so bring a jacket and get outside. As the pine sap starts to flow, the smell of pine trees and fresh grass is everywhere. This is a great time to visit Island Park, so get your family and get up here!

Latest Yellowstone Elk Report

img_3033Well, the numbers are in, and I suppose depending on how you look at it, the news is good.   The numbers of elk counted this year in Yellowstone National Park is about the same as last year (6,700 elk.)  Which is not too bad, until you consider that pre-wolf-introduction numbers were nearly 10,000!  It’s probably good that the numbers aren’t going any lower (at least not for now,) but the one-third reduction in the herd was a serious loss, as far as I’m concerned.

Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I’m anti-wolf (well, okay, maybe a little anti-wolf) it’s really more that I’m pro-big-game.  I go for a drive every night in the spring summer and fall for about an hour.  Last year there was only 2 times I didn’t see big game here in Island Park.  I have to admit I really like that.  And frankly, it’s hard to get excited about anything that jeopardizes that (especially something as senseless as a wolf re-introduction.)

At any rate, there are still a few elk left in Yellowstone.  Go see ‘em while you can.  That’s my best advice.

3 Immutable Laws Of Winter Living

img_4046If you’re going to live where there’s winter (meaning snow, cold, wind, below zero temps., etc.) there are three things you can’t live without.  Maybe that’s stating it a little strongly.  Better said, there are three things without which you won’t be happy living in winter.  Don’t take my word for it.  Ask anyone who’s happy living in snow country.  They’ll tell you.

By now, you’re already making a list in your mind of what three things you’d have to have to be happy living in snow country.  Let’s see if you think like those of us who live in the land of eternal winter.

Here are the three things: 1) you must have a garage in which to park your vehicles.  If you don’t have a garage, and constantly have to scrape your windows standing in snow to your knees you’ll quickly tire of winter.

2) You must have a snowblower.  Here in Island Park we have commercial operators blow us out, but there’s still the touch-up areas.  And you don’t have to shovel very much snow to be sick of it.  I keep a snowblower up on the porch to keep it clean, and another in the shop to clean out around there.  You can never have too many snowblowers.

3) You must have a winter sport / activity.  If you’re stuck in the house 24 / 7 you’re bummed.  Even if it starts out peacefully doing things you like, it won’t be long before you’re stir crazy.  You must have something that gets you outside and gets your heart pumping.  You absolutely can’t pass 8 months of winter (or even two or three, for that matter) without getting out and enjoying it.  If you try, you’ll be unhappy.

So what’s a person to do?  I mean you can always buy a snowblower, they’re not expensive.  But what if you plain don’t like getting outside in the winter?  Or what if you can’t afford a garage?  Are you doomed to live out your days in Arizona?

We’ll it’s like I said in the beginning.  You can live in snow country.  You just don’t do so with full enjoyment.  Because after all, there are three immutable laws of living in snow country . . .

Guns — The Devil's Tools?

guns-in-grey-by-barjackIf you’re a regular visitor to Island Park, chances are you’ve hunted here.  Even if you’ve come to hike, fish,  ride your ATV, pick huckleberries, etc., etc., etc., you’ve very likely carried a gun with you as insurance against predators.  If you live here, you almost certainly have a gun (or two, or three) tucked away for a rainy day.  In today’s political climate, guns are a hot topic.  There are many who would outlaw them because they kill people (funny they don’t want to outlaw cars for the same reason — or tobacco or alcohol for that matter.)

Then there are those who point to the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.  There are those in government who would have you believe that the second amendment was to keep and bear hunting / sporting arms.  But it’s clear from this qoute by Thomas Jefferson that that’s not the case.  Here’s what he had to say:

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
Thomas Jefferson

Or this by George Washington:

The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.
George Washington

Or this by George Washington:

Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.
George Washington

It’s pretty clear from these quotes from the founding fathers what they thought of the right to bear arms and why they wrote it into the constitution in such a place of prominence.  

Today as politicians mull over how to strip honest citizens of these rights, the people are hedging their bets.  Gun sales (especially unregistered gun sales) are brisk in our area (and just about everywhere else, as I understand it.)  Everyone’s trying to beat the pending legislation.  And if you think gun sales are brisk, you ought to see what they’re doing in ammunition around here!  One thing’s for certain: change is coming.  It could be now or never.  If you care, better get stocked up.

Wolves De-Listed — No, Seriously This Time

WolvesI just got an email from U.S.

Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).  He indicated that wolves have been de-listed from the endangered species list in many states and would soon be in Idaho.  That opens the way for them to be controlled (read hunted.)  For many that’s horrible news.  For those of us who live here, it’s not only a good thing, it’s about time.

Much of the income derived by Island Park residents comes from tourism.  Those tourists include people who come here to ride ATV’s and snowmobiles and fishermen.  But there is also a large group who come here to hunt.  It is undeniable that wolves have had a dramatic negative impact on the deer, elk and moose populations.

All you have to do is take a drive through the Lamar Valley (northeast corner of Yellowstone) and see how much game you see.  Yeah, you’ll see bears and wolves, but you won’t see elk (at least not to the extent you did before the re-introduction of the wolves.) 

Let’s face it.  Wolves have to eat to survive.  While the environmentalists would have you believe that wolves eat only the sick and afflicted, that’s just not reality.  Wolves take whatever they want (which is often well in excess of what they need,) not just the weak, the sick and the afflicted.

The problem is that wolves are outnumbering the elk in some areas, and that means the packs are decimating entire herds.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do the math:  Elk have one baby in 12 months.  Wolves have 8 – 10 as often as twice a year.  It won’t be long and there will be nothing but wolves.

Now hunting wolves, while not a great sport in itself, will have the desired effect of reducing wolf populations and keeping the balance at a level where it ought to be.  Wyoming Game and Fish officials have indicated they will be letting over 1,000 wolf tags in the months to come.  That’s good news for ranchers and hunters.  I hope Idaho is even more aggressive. 

I don’t know anyone who lives here who thinks we need more wolves.  That opinion (and the lawsuits that go with it) comes from our so-called environmentalist friends back east, who have never actually see a wolf and the devastation they wreak on an elk or deer herd.  No, I think we’re ready for some balance.

What do you think?

Snowmobiling Improving In Island Park

img_37951What started out as four feet of pure fluff (you could have lifted a whole dump truck load of snow with one hand) has finally started to settle and there is now a good base.  According to the Snotel site at Ponds Lodge, there is 34 inches of snow currently, having settled out from considerably more.

With a good base, snowmobilers are finding great conditions down low and over 1,000 miles of trails are being groomed weekly.  Up high snow conditions are improving (the boondockers will tell you it couldn’t be better) but avalanche conditions are high to severe, so riders should be outfitted with shovels, beacons, probes, etc. before getting too far off the beaten path up high (especially on the steeper slopes.)

If you’ve been waiting for just the right time to get out and enjoy winter, wait no longer.  Accommodations are available at Macks Inn (now open year round,) Phillips Lodge, Island Park Village and others.  Check the links at right for pricing and call ahead for availability. 

See you there!

John Sack Cabin

This log cabin on the banks of Big Springs in Island Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It was hand-built in 1939 by a German immigrant named John Sack and features inlaid flooring and hand carved furniture.

Henrys Flats Conservation Area

This preserve of grasslands and wetlands along the Henrys Fork of the Snake River peacefully coexists with Flat Ranch, a working cattle ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy. There is a visitors center open during the summer with a great view from the deck.

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Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway travels along Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Under consideration for designation as a wild and scenic river, Henry’s Fork offers a variety of recreational activities like fishing, whitewater rafting, and waterfall
Mesa Falls

Island Park Reservoir

Island Park Reservoir which is formed by Island Park Dam is a major feature of the Mindoka Project. Recreation on this 11 square mile (7,000-acre) reservoir with 64 miles of shoreline is administered by the Targhee National Forest. Located in the high country of eastern Idaho, north of Idaho Falls.

Henrys Fork of the Snake River

The Henrys Fork of the Snake River was named for Andrew Henry, a fur trader who first saw it in 1810. Acclaimed by fly fishing enthusiasts as the best trout fishing stream in the United States, it begins at Big Springs, winds through Harriman State Park, all the way down to Ashton.