All photos courtesy of the Canyon Visitor Education Center Webpage, located at: http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/canyonvc.htm
Longwood @ YNP 2012
All photos courtesy of the Canyon Visitor Education Center Webpage, located at: http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/canyonvc.htm
Earlier today, the team visited the Canyon Visitor Education Center, located in Yellowstone National Park and I’ve got to say, it is by far our favorite visitor’s center in the greater Yellowstone area. When one first walks towards the center, it is apparent that this particular center is not quite an “extension of the landscape” and honestly, we all enjoyed that aspect. With its stone columns and wood finishes, it is not a complete departure but one can tell that this center is a bit different.
Well I can tell you it is different in the best possible way. Once one walks into the park is where the center truly shines. It is actually a bit deceptive at first in the sense that there is a wall with an enlarged wildlife photo that shields the eye from the real wealth of the center. Once you walk past this wall, it is a bit much to take in all at once, with its large “globe fountain” and various displays mostly focusing on volcanic activity along and within Yellowstone National park. With that being said, with a collective breath and a motivation to explore, this center offers a wealth of information that can be understood by almost all ages and backgrounds due to displays translated into multiple languages.
One wonderful aspect of this particular center is its grandiose map of the park, complete with raises and depressions to depict geologic features and lines showing the roads and boundaries of features, such as the famous caldera, which is essentially a depression in the Earth that is a reminder of a once erupted volcano. This map display is quite large, so much so that one must go upstairs and gaze below at all the display truly has to offer. On one hand, the display is educational; it can show everyone all features and areas of the park that may not necessarily be known to the average tourist. On the other hand, the display is surreal; it truly shows how large the park is and how untouched by man it is. There is one main road and really apart from that, this park is left to remain in its natural beauty. The park is one of the few natural wonders in the states that is not destroyed by man, which is a positive gleam of light in today’s society.
Now, one thing that must be discussed is the target audience for this center. Personally, I am a science oriented individual and our team is very science oriented as well so naturally, this center was our favorite. This center clearly curtails to those truly interested in the science behind the park. If you are someone who wants to take Yellowstone a step further from simple tourism, this is the place to visit. You can learn about volcanic activity around Yellowstone and even witness the activity in a way with stunning visuals and short video clips. With this being said, science isn’t the only factor of what makes this center so great. Upstairs, there is wonderful wildlife pictures and drawings that show the importance of art alongside science. When this land was being explored by European settlers for the first time, artists where brought along to prove what was seen so all could fathom and understand what was being discovered. Art and science can be in beautiful harmony and this center does the best job of any visitor’s center in Yellowstone at portraying that to a wide audience.
Now it should seem obvious by now that this center is a modern scientific hub of knowledge, but how is this proven by the design of the center itself. Well, I would like to show you a quote straight from the center’s webpage:
“Enter the new Canyon Visitor Education Center and the world of Yellowstone’s supervolcano—an idea that has captured the minds and imaginations of people around the world. For the first time, park visitors will see, hear, and learn how the Yellowstone volcano, its geysers and hot springs, and geologic history shape the distribution and abundance of all life found here.”
If you read carefully, it becomes apparent that this center is for the scientifically curious crowd. When browsing some of the other visitor’s centers’ pages, the type of rhetoric used shows that it is more for the average tourist. It is a bit watered down, and it does not capture the geologic features and landscape of the park from a scientific perspective. This center on the other hand, exceeds where the others simply lack. It is from this understanding of the center that lets all that enter know that they will truly understand not only the geologic features of Yellowstone, but the enormity and magnificence of the park itself. To summarize, the Canyon Visitor Education Center is a wonderful unity of beauty and science packaged in one sleek yet Earthy design, focusing on captivating every individual to become actively engaged in expanding their scientific knowledge of Yellowstone and all it possesses. The whole team would recommend this center to all who truly want to experience Yellowstone in an active and educational way. You won’t regret it!
To learn more about the park and get a quick peek at the sleek design, please watch this video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWFnQp4djlE
When one thinks of Gardiner, Montana, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Well, probably the first thing that comes to mind is “What is Gardiner in the first place?” Let me tell you, people need to know about this town and all it has to offer. What seems like a quaint little speck in the grand scheme of the United States, Gardiner possesses a wealth of knowledge and experiences that every single human being can benefit from. Whether you are looking for a break from everyday life, or you want a location that may very well change your life, Gardiner is that very location.
As soon as one enters this wonderful town, each individual is welcomed by a glorious arch, representing a portal into not only the town, but to a world full of nature that is relatively untouched by human influence and a world that harkens back to a time where man was in harmony with its neighboring wildlife. Once the initial breath of passing the arch has passed, it becomes evident that unlike many towns in the greater Yellowstone area, Gardiner is the people’s town. Tourism is a major player in the town influence, but it is not the only demographic of this town. The town is full of local businesses, mom and pop stores, and restaurants filled with hard working townspeople just trying to sustain their livelihood.
Another key component of Gardiner is the social dynamic of the townspeople themselves. Gardiner can be best described as a northern town with a southern charm. The locals wear their interests on their sleeves, literally sporting camo clothing and stressing hunting or wildlife as a whole. This dynamic is reflective of the many important activities or hobbies of the locals including hunting, ranching, and in some cases, wildlife preservation and conservation. Now, in some towns, the types of clothing sported by the townspeople in Gardiner may insinuate a population of rough and sometimes brash individuals but up here in Montana, that is not the case at all. All locals that we had the pleasure of speaking with were extremely friendly and treated you as a fellow human being, not like an outsider. Each local of Gardiner welcomed us with a smile and gave us one of the rare gifts in today’s society, their time.
To elaborate on this friendly disposition of the townspeople we would like to highlight some key words from some locals who were generous enough to speak with us to broaden our understanding of Gardiner. We first spoke to a cashier at the local subway because we thought because of her position and its relation to tourism; she would provide some strong opinions. We came in thinking she may have a negative outlook on tourism because it must get very busy during the prime tourism times in Gardiner, but like many locals around, one cannot judge a book by its cover. When asked whether or not she liked the tourism in Gardiner, the cashier stated simply “Yeah, yeah I do.” Now we must admit that there may be a slight tinge of sarcasm in her speech, but we felt that was attributed to the heavy flow of tourist customers that day. We also asked her what she felt was the most important part of the town and she was adamant that the hunting activity and business was something that had to be top on the list.
We next spoke with a couple of individuals very briefly due to the busy time of the day and really, the busy time of year. We happened to speak briefly with a waiter and a host, one of which was from K-bar and the other was from Cowboy’s Lodge and Grille, respectively. Our method behind speaking to the waiter at K-bar was mostly happenstance, however this particular individual possessed a viewpoint that had to be extrapolated further; he was originally from Virginia Beach! When we asked the waiter how he feels about the two areas since they are vastly different in a myriad of ways, he responded: “I like it much better here, it is much smaller and slower, and I like it that way.” He continued further by saying the hustle and bustle of Virginia was not for him. I think anyone from Virginia has felt that way at one point or another, but the fact that he left the pace of Virginia behind for Montana was especially intriguing. When we decided to speak with the host at Cowboy’s Lodge and Grille, we just wanted to have a conversation with him, without any particular purpose, which worked out in our favor in the end. The server said about Gardiner: “I love it here, it’s great.” We decided to then casually ask him what he liked to do for fun in Gardiner and he simply said “snowmobiling in the winter, ATV’s in the summer, that kind of thing.” This intrigued us not only because it was evident that outdoor activity was the norm in Gardiner, but the mention of snowmobiling was interesting due to its controversy in tandem with park use. We decided to follow up by asking if he enjoyed the wildlife and he answered “I love it, I like all the wildlife.” Although this answer wasn’t especially specific, it let us know that he wasn’t some individual with no regard for animals and plants that paint the beautiful backdrop of the town.
Gardiner is a town full of many different backgrounds and stances; however it is a general consensus that the townspeople all have some characteristics that unite them to create this wonderful dynamic. Within the low laying buildings and the cornucopia of tourists simply making a stop, Gardiner has not lost its identity. Gardiner locals love the outdoors, they love nature, and they love the small town feel. They seem to generally enjoy the people who come from all around the world and pass through the town, especially those who learn a thing or two about what the town has to offer. The people want to be left alone by the government, yet they are more than open in having a lengthy discussion with a stranger. Most of all, they all want Gardiner to remain a beautiful landscape where the largest influence lies in the town itself. This town should not be overlooked and in fact should be highlighted further. For this team, Gardiner has opened our eyes to a location filled with culture, aesthetics, and social harmony.
After becoming acclimated with Jackson, Wyoming, we began our first activity involving the area. We were given a specific area of Jackson to analyze further and we were excited to get to know the area and explore all it had to offer. Our area turned out to be a very residential area of town, with one strip of road showing some shops and offices and the rest of the area representing the heart of the local inhabitants. The physical landscape of our area was absolutely beautiful. With such features such as mountains and trees of the pine and spruce variety, Jackson contains physical beauty that everyone can enjoy. One downside to the area was the lack of vegetation on the main road. It is disappointing to see such beautiful plant life in the distance and only see a few trees here and there along the sidewalks.
After taking in the physical landscape of Jackson, we decided to delve deeper into Jackson and talk to some locals about the socio-economic status of the town and how locals feel about tourism and the spike in prices. We walked into “Fighting Bear Antiques,” a high-end antiques store full of highly valued sculptures, paintings, and other crafts. We were greeted by Terry and Claudia, two owners of the store who happened to live upstairs as well. When we inquired about the state of the economy in Jackson, Terry said the economy was actually on a slight upswing. They also stated that the majority of their sales were from the locals, although by locals, they stated they were “second home” Jackson residents. We then asked about the sky high house prices and Terry and Claudia felt it was due to Jackson having very little livable land. With all the tourist attraction and hotels enveloping the area, we could see how this was a plausible justification.
When we left “Fighting Bear Antiques,” we then moved on back to the hotel, but we really wanted another local perspective so we decided to keep on our journey. We walked in to the Sports Authority and met an employee named Jeff. Jeff proved to be the most valuable member to this journey, because he provided a perspective that was unique from all the other Jackson locals. Jeff was originally from New Jersey, but after attending college in Vermont, he knew the mountains were home to him, so naturally he moved to Jackson, Wyoming. We inquired about the tourist nature of Jackson, and Jeff actually embraced the nature of the town. “I love it” he said, because to Jeff, tourism pays his rent. Jeff makes money working in restaurants over the summer, so one could imagine the tip money he could get from the tourist market. Jeff also noted that because of the tourist market, Jackson has impeccable public transportation. With buses running through the streets, Jackson does have some positive outcomes from tourism. Jeff has lived in Jackson for over a year, and it is apparent that Jeff has found his home for life.
After talking with locals and taking the physical beauty in, we can all say we know understand Jackson at a much deeper level. The traffic may be annoying, the prices may seem high, but with all of that in mind Jackson is a beautiful area with local culture and tourist perks that almost everyone can appreciate at some level. It was an experience that was eye-opening to say the least.
I am Jake King and I am a rising senior majoring in Chemistry and Secondary education. Let me first introduce the pack. We consist of Sam Leech, a rising junior majoring in communications, Quynh Ly, a rising senior majoring in biology, and myself. We all come from different backgrounds and we are all looking for specific aspects of this Yellowstone experience. We would all like to meet new people and understand the myriad of viewpoints that will be represented on this trip. We would also like to be a part of a project that will bring some issues to the forefront so others can become aware and begin to make connections and try to make those issues a part of their lives as well. Lastly, we would like to all have an experience at Yellowstone that will make a difference in our lives for the better, and will make a difference in others’ lives as well. We are all excited to get out there and share our experiences with as many people as possible!