What we're about

This is a Yellowstone National Park activity group. Activities include day hiking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, photography, wildlife watching, and educational events. Some activities may be thematic, with a focus on botany, fire ecology, geology, history, zoology, and whatever other subjects draw interest from the community. Unlike some Meetup groups, this one will not be soliciting donations to defray the membership fee. The primary purpose of this Meetup is to give those who are new to the area or visiting from afar the opportunity to engage in an activity that they would otherwise be apprehensive about doing on their own. In Yellowstone National Park, which is grizzly bear country, there is safety in numbers, which is one of the primary reasons for group hiking. Having a group of 4 or more also makes sense in the event someone suffers injury. Two can go for help, while the third member stays with the injured hiker or skier.

For newcomers to the Bozeman/Livingston area (as well as Cody, Jackson, or any of the gateway communities, and even seasonal employees of Yellowstone National Park), this Meetup serves as a vehicle for promoting social connectedness in addition to the obvious benefit of experiencing Yellowstone National Park in the company of someone familiar with the area. Since I, Ballpark Frank, will be organizing the activities until such time as we weave others into the mix, you can trust that group speed will not be cheetah-like. My speed burner days are long gone. This is why I will welcome anyone who wishes to organize more aggressive activities, providing they commit to group safety. The last thing I want to see is one or more participants left behind because a couple of "gazelles" took off at high speed, and left other group members by themselves in grizzly country.

Since we will often be using complicated transportation arrangements, like one-way hikes or ski/snowshoe outings, where we start at one trailhead and exit at another, or do the same thing off-trail, I need to know in advance who is participating, whether they are bringing a vehicle, and the passenger capacity of that vehicle. This is why I will only be providing meet point and meet time information to those who sign up in advance. I have used this mechanism for safeguarding group logistics for decades, and, while not foolproof, it is the most reliable system.

One word of warning that merits inclusion in this introduction: Please do not participate in a hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing activity if you have other plans that same day or evening that require you to be back to the trailhead or your hometown by a certain time. It is not fair to other participants to have someone force their social schedule on the group. If you do it once, you will be reminded of this stated policy, and be stuck adhering to the group's schedule. If you do it a second time, you will be prohibited from future participation in this group. Part of the magic of the Yellowstone backcountry is that there are so many variables, be that a very special wildlife encounter or a rare geyser deciding to erupt while we are nearby. Having an arbitrary return time serves to ruin those opportunities.

Members will be asked to provide their cell phone number to the Organizer prior to their initial Meetup. The Organizer will provide their cell phone number to the Member to facilitate 2-way communications on the day of an activity. This enables notification of any last minute changes due to unexpected developments, like accidents, carcass closures of trails, illness, road closures, weather-related problems, etc.

We always use "2:00 a.m." as the meet time for activities in Yellowstone, and we are deliberately vague about the meet location, in the Meetup announcement. This is done to insure that only Members who have pre-registered by RSVP'ing "Yes" have this information. In the era of COVID-19, this is more important than ever!

Speaking of COVID-19, we take the current pandemic VERY seriously. As the Organizer, who has multiple underlying medical conditions, that puts me at risk of high impact infection, I am implementing several temporary changes that will be in place until such time as the virus risk has been substantially reduced. I am over age 65, a cancer survivor, and have some diagnosed cardiac risk. We have other Members who have underlying risk factors. At this point in time, we will not be encouraging car pooling, due to social distancing protocols. If Members wish to car pool, that is their prerogative, but they will have to find other Members who are comfortable participating in ride sharing. I have a Member, who like me, has an underlying risk factor, and we have been car pooling regularly for many months. We trust each other's management of personal hygiene and potential exposure to the virus. Neither one of us is anxious to assume any additional risk beyond what we are already undertaking. Given the likelihood of significantly less car pooling and social distancing protocols that emphasize limits on group size, we will be reducing group size parameters on our field activities in Yellowstone. We will also be curtailing one-way hikes, where we would ordinarily be using two different trailheads, and shuttling vehicles between them. That system forces the doubling of the passenger load in vehicles when we do the shuttles. Historically, we sometimes have had 4 or 5 Members in one vehicle when we do shuttles. That would force participants to sit shoulder to shoulder. You might be one of the many individuals who believes that America's Public Health system overreacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. You have the right to believe what you wish. You do not have the right to endanger other people's health. The National Park Service is taking the COVID-19 threat very seriously, as are the gateway communities and county/state Public Health agencies on the periphery of the park. I have mixed emotions about even organizing Meetups until such time as I believe that the COVID-19 threat has been substantially mitigated. For the benefit of any Members who have not been following the evolution of Yellowstone National Park's COVID-19 Reopening Plan, here is a link to the 12 page document that was published by the National Park Service as part of their employee training program prior to reopening the park in May:


Now, if you are serious about experiencing Yellowstone on its own terms, off the pavement, and without benefit of a building or vehicle to protect you from the elements, please read the "Backcountry Use Information" document. It is filled with additional information about this group, plus a bounty of information on personal safety, personal comfort, what to bring, what to leave home, and other important information. At 40,639 characters, it far exceeds the 25,000 Meetup limit for a single page. It is 20 pages in length. The first 2 pages are an Index to the various subjects covered. You can access the document on Dropbox at the following link:


Past events (206)

Let's do something in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park North Entrance

Life is Full of Surprises!

Midway Geyser Basin

Fall Colors and the Blacktail Plateau - What a Combination!

Blacktail Plateau Drive

Celebrating Autumn's Arrival with our First Fall Color Walk of 2022

Yellowstone National Park