Grand Teton, Yellowstone National Parks are among the most visited

Yellowstone is fifth; Grand Teton is ninth-

Most visited national parks. Jackson Hole Daily. By Cory Hatch.


  1. Virginia Avatar

    One of the best things about visiting YNP, Grand Teton, Zion, Bryce, Yosemite and all of the other national parks is the absence of ATVs. no generators after 8:00 p.m. in campgrounds, dogs must be on leashes. One of the worst things is that the Park Service has allowed private contractors to run some of the campgrounds, the stores, and other facilities. I guess you can’t have everything.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I had hoped Obama would deprivatize these concessionaires on the public lands.

  3. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    There have been private contractors on public lands since way before you and I were born..I almost think without the help of private contractors, there might not be a National Park Service, let see how long was Hamilton in Yellowstone? And fortunately or unfortunately, the people that go to school to be NPS employee’s don’t think the way the contractors do, which means that campgrounds and stores would be closed, there would be no fuel stations, virtually no support system for the millions who visit the NPS areas every single year…

  4. Virginia Avatar

    Save bears: Yes, I remember the “Ham stores” and you are right, they have been there for a long time. I guess it just seems different to me now than back then and of course I was a child at that time (wow – long time ago!). I guess I had never thought about it the way you explain it, so I should be grateful to Xanterra for keeping things going. I also forgot to mention on my list of good things about national parks, I can take my loaded AK47 with me now if I desire.

  5. Virginia Avatar

    Well, I lied again – the gun rule doesn’t take place until February since the credit card bill does not take effect until then. So, I will have to wait until February to take my gun to the national parks.

    Also, I just read (sadly) in the Cody Enterprise that some idiot from Oregon hit a young bull moose at about 10:00 pm on May 21. The moose had to be shot as he had a broken hip. So, there is one less moose on the Shoshone Forest. Coming back from YNP, and driving 45 (speed limit is 50 on the Forest), we met the sheriff who immediately turned his lights on, turned around and went after one of the many people speeding on the forest. There are no signs on that part of the road to warn drivers to slow down because of wildlife.

  6. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Virginia, it is your duty as an American to take carry a gun with you everywhere. 😉

  7. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Virginia said:

    “I can take my loaded AK47 with me now if I desire.”

    No you can’t, the law that was passed, is still a concealed weapon law, and you will be required to have a CCW permit that is recognized by the state when the entrance you enter the park is located..

    There is no way to conceal an AK, and at this time, no permit is required to own a semi-automatic AK, of course you still cannot own a fully automatic AK..

    In order to carry your AK through the park, you will still have to have it unloaded, cased and non-operable..

    The only weapons that can be loaded and taken into the NPS system will be concealed weapons, you will still need to have a permit, and I imagine they will institute a system to let them know who is carrying..

    Now why, did you have to take such an attitude with what I posted! You voted for him didn’t you? I know I didn’t, but I am not surprised it is politics as usual in DC.. After working for an agency and with the federal agencies, I expected no less!

  8. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    No it is not, that is why we have a choice..that is guaranteed by a right, you don’t have to carry anything if you don’t want to..

  9. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And to be honest with you, If we have to have contractors, I would love to see Hamilton come back, they were more in tune with what the park is, than the current company, there stores and service are shit, their employees are rude and have no understanding of what a national park is!

  10. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Save bears I was being sarcastic. I couldn’t help myself. I am just saying that a lot of people seem to have that mentality.

  11. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    To explain a bit more…the campgrounds being run by concessioners is a relatively “new” thing. Maybe 10 years ago. It was a Republican intiative that was NOT a good thing for the NPS.

    For one, all the plumbing and rest of the infrastructure had been put in place and well maintained by YNP govt. Thus there was no fair turn over to concessions. it was like the govt. condemning land and then turning it over to private folks at no cost. It was a real tax payer rip off!!!

    Second, having NPS campground employees meant there were GOOD initial contacts with the public. The concession employees there now may be well intended but are not able to give the kind of professional help the govt. previously did. Now all the campers see is gestopo cops patrolling the beat and handing out tickets.

    Third, being NPS camp ground employees meant it was good initial training grounds for seasonal employees. They then could go on to other positions in YNP govt. Now all one gets are concession employees in camp grounds who either have an convuluted idea of what govt is and apply the next year to become the next super cops or the employee becomes cynical against the govt….or apathetic old folks. It is not 100% that way but the majority is.

    Fourth, the maintanance division now has a lot less say as to when the camp grounds should be closed. The pressure is on from concessions to keep the campgrounds open longer. Thus pipes break etc. when it freezes.

    Again, it was …and is.. a real bummer when the Bush govt. turned over the campgrounds for running by private companies. The private folks basically run all the the public infrastructure and resources to death.

    And as for the concessioners that run the stores, lodging and eating places, it was good when the govt. bought out the buildings and related infrastructure in the 70’s of Hams Store and Yel Park Co.. Quality of food went up in Yel Park co faciliites and the buildings themselves were improved.

    But Quality of food went down post Ham Store. The other thing was the “new” owners, The Park service, didn’t exert enough control over hiring practises by its concessioners. Even after Real losers were coming in, the concessioners still didn’t do background checks (they said it cost too much). Thus the Park would have convicted felons employees doing dirt bag sort of things. Of course it matched the SS troops rangers view of how to take care of every tourist so it was a good match ..for them but not the general public.
    So there you have it…. one good move (buying the property) and more than one bad. … and it is as the world turns …. as viewed by Aj

  12. Caleb Avatar

    Where in WY you from Pro?

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I agree with Bob.

    The sorry record of National Park concessionaires in Yellowstone has been described in a number of books written long before Xanterra came in.

    No one has mentioned the turnover of the national forest campgrounds, and the shuttering of those that only attract a few visitors a night. No wonder everyone has moved to unregulated dispersed camping.

    Folks should also discuss getting rid of the RAT, the Recreation Access Tax, another initiative of privatization from the Bush era, although the push initially came from congressional Republicans.

  14. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    Looks like Virginia should actually look up the laws concerning concealed carry in the National Parks before spouting off Brady Campaign rhetoric.

    It is illegal in Wyoming to conceal any other weapon than a handgun.

  15. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Well, private concessions of campgrounds in Yellowstone go back in mass form to the Wylie camps way back before any of us was born.

    The sorry history has been written about, though I think there’s room for a new book, one that updates the history. One decent one is I think called $elling Yellowstone, the story of capitalism in the park.

    The capitalists created Yellowstone as a way to diversify trade on the Northern Pacific Railroad. As our government has always been in a kind of collusion with the capitalists (which, interestingly, is Mussolini’s own definition of fascism), the union of the two has what has created, run, and operated parks like Yellowstone (and Hamilton Stores – where I worked for five summers in Grant Village – is a great case in point; the history of Ham’s and the NPS – at least until the wedding soured in the last decade was one of collusion (and perhaps a lot of mutual suspicion).

    When we really think long and hard about the history of Yellowstone and its operations, it leads to some very unsettling conclusions. My own journey to radicalism hardly knew it when I innocently took a job in 1993; now, I can’t see a cash register or a ranger without thinking long and hard about how strange a world Yellowstone really is (and I’m only partially talking about thermal features).

  16. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Oh, one other thing for visitors in Yellowstone in recent days … the NPS has been hazing bison from Madison Junction to Fountain Flats, causing 1-2 hour delays. If the location of the hazing sounds strange, that’s what I thought, too! Look at BFC’s update from the field, but I have had a lot of personal correspondence with travelers and read some blog entries that make the picture clearer.

    They are hazing the bison because of the hazing in the West and want to clear the space. It’s become a crazy domino of hazing.

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This has got to be one of the biggest intrusions into the center of the Park in history

    All to show us that the livestock industry rules, and the rest of us mean shit!

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    They were hazing bison a couple of years ago, from the Bakers Hole Campground area, and they pushed those bison all day long to the OF area, it was quite a mess to say the least, they had copters, horseback riders, trucks, cars, trailers…it was something…

  19. Virginia Avatar

    Wyo Native: I guess my sarcasm went over your head. I’ll be more direct from now on.

  20. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    I was working for the concessionare (YP company) when they got the boot. Bad as things were, the new contract between the concessionaire and the NPS may have been worse.

    In the past, all the NPS take from the concessionaire went back into the Treasury, and then the NPS had to go thru Congress and the budget process to get money. In theory, that meant you and I had some say in how the money got spent.

    With the new contract, the % of profit the concessionaire agreed to give to the govment went directly to Yellowstone. Now you and I had no vote on how the money was spent. Yellowstone Park officials and the concessionaire made that decision.

    One of the 1st changes I noticed was the lobby and dining room at Lake Hotel. They spent about $84 billion remodeling, and the result was a place that looked like an Edwardian bordello. These improvements justified jacking up the prices on everything from meals to rooms.

    Next the concessionaire, with the blessing of the NPS, bought a pimp boat. Whoops, did I really say that. Well, it was a $1/4 million yacht used exclusively for the concessionaires upper management, top brass at the NPS, and visiting politicians.

    Next on the agenda was a remodel on a great little patrol cabin on ??? Dot Island? Round Island? Yikes, I can’t remember the name of the island in Yellowstone Lake. At any rate, it went from being a rustic place, to a luxury cabin for VIPs only. The usual suspects.

    Bottom line is the new contract made the NPS and the concessionaire business partners. More business meant more profits for the concessionaire. More business meant a bigger bureaucratic empire for the NPS. The losers in the deal were the park, and middle class park visitors.

  21. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    I agree Dave with the negatives spun off from collusion. there should have been a voice one step removed from all the potential self serving hob nobbing.

    The island on Yellowstone was Peale and it is way in the no power zone. Thus, there may and I say MAY BE some legitimate no power big wig trips but to cater to these trips means there are lots of official Administrative maintenance and ranger “patrols” just happening to go that way with all their food and booze just before the big wigs comes in.

    When the big wig wants to power in then administrative use just happens to coincide with the guys trip. One time the excuse was I had to have a bag of grain brought in for my horses. Only thing was the boat didn’t want to go from S. Arm to SE arm to bring it to me. I wrote plenty of letters on these happenings. What admin then tried to do was make sure I was scheduled for a cabin far away from Trail Ck or Peale (one could see the cabin from the trail on shore) when the big boys came in. Plus they stopped writing in the log book. I’d look on the boat logs for trips. Then they stopped doing that and just wrote of a “patrol to the south part of the Lake”.

    PEER then FoI’d these records and the Park then sent edited versions. Since PEER had me look at them I knew when monkey business was going on. From these logs we were finally able to determine there were over 200 administrative trips to Peale and Trail Creek through the no power zone in a 2 week period of time…for just Laura Bush’s trip alone.

    The only big wig I knew of who asked for legitimate use for himself and associated trip use was Jimmy Carter. he canoed into Peale. All Supt. and political higher ups broke the rules when they could. And Perks were always given to those permanents who participated in these acts of Malfeasance to keep them quiet. It all was sick. Enough.

  22. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Rock Springs Caleb.

  23. Weng Rufa Avatar

    I am glad to hear that Grand Teton is on the top 10, it is one of my favorite place.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan