Chicken or the egg

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:24:21 03/29/17

In Reply to: build it and they will come posted by Hoot


I have watched the parking "load" at the iron bridge gradually increase for over 4 decades. The increase seemed to ratchet up significantly once people started climbing that hill, thanks to the North Fork Fire removing much of the foliage.

They held off building a trail up the hill for longer than I would have. It was only after the hillside erosion and visitor safety issues forced their hand. I guess the alternative would have been to try and close off the hill. (Good luck on that, with it being so close to the road.)

You correctly identify a consequence to the trail construction. I remember the "old days", when the Old Faithful area was plagued by a lack of parking. Eventually, they expanded the parking lots, and we have acres of new pavement, which still fills up on occasion during peak visitation. They had the luxury of a lot of non-thermal flat ground nearby. In the case of the Fairy Falls t.h., as well as the Midway Geyser Basin parking area, their options are limited by the geography and geology. At the Fairy Falls t.h., you don't have that much non-thermal flat or near-flat ground nearby. You can't go across the paved road to the east, because there are a plethora of thermal features over there. At Midway, you have a similar problem, although the day could come when they have to whack part of the forest to the northwest of the existing parking lot. If this was Vegas, you would just build multi-story parking garages. I'm thinking the Fountain Paint Pots and Norris Geyser Basin areas are not far behind on this access issue. If visitation keeps increasing, eventually, we could see a public outcry to improve the access, as progressively larger numbers of visitors feel disenfranchised. This could herald the coming of some drastic fix, like the long feared shuttle bus system, which would change the Yellowstone experience substantially.

From my perspective, this is scary stuff!


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