Thank goodness there still are independents taking pen to paper to produce guides to national parks. Forget the cookie-cutter approach, toss aside worries about over-emphasizing one area, never mind about catering to one demographic.
Without those blinders, Janet Chapple produces a book, Yellowstone Treasures, that is a must for Yellowstone National Park visitors.
Why? Because she grew up with the park, courtesy of parents who worked at the Old Faithful Inn. As a result, she knows about the swimming pool that once was associated with the inn, she knows about the magnificent hotel at Canyon (the one that's no longer there), and she can write as much or as little as she wants without a publisher telling her to rein things in.
Fortunately, for us, Ms. Chapple writes a lot in the third edition, which arrived in April. In a nutshell, this book:
* Does not follow a publisher's cookie-cutter approach that requires a laundry list of must-haves at the expense of shoulda haves;
* Dawdles when it should, such as in the author's descriptions and suggested tours of the various geyser basins (How many of you know which is Seismic Geyser, or Cauliflower Geyser, or Turban Geyser?);
* Provides insights that, odds are, only a true insider would know, such as the aforementioned indoor swimming pool at the Old Faithful Inn complex (see page 84), that Northwest College of Powell, Wyoming, has a summer jazz camp nestled in the Sunlight Basin just east of the park (page 194) that you just might hear if you drive the Chief Joseph slowly enough and with your windows open, or if you stop for a picnic or short hike, and that the original Canyon Hotel not only had a foundation said to measure a mile in circumference and but was an opulent structure built "for rich people" (page 182).
Whereas many of today's guidebooks are structured from A to Z and so become 'vanilla,', Yellowstone Treasures thankfully lacks that structure (probably because Ms. Chapple runs the publishing company!) and is as multi-hued as a rainbow.
Concerned about her authority, lack of editorial fact-checking, or oversight? Well, as noted above she grew up in Yellowstone, spent five years working on this book's first edition, which was released in 2001, had her husband, Bruno Giletti, a professor emeritus of geological sciences at Brown University, provide the geological sidebars that are sprinkled throughout the book, and had Lee Whittlesey, the park historian at Yellowstone, review the text for historical accuracy. Among those individuals who provided insights or help with this edition are long-time park historian Aubrey Haines, park photographer Jim Peaco, and dozens of others.
The resulting product is one rich in detail. For instance, on page 82 you'll learn that a bison fell into Blue Star Spring, located near the Old Faithful Geyser, in 1997 and that afterward the thermal feature "began a hitherto unseen boiling and doming up activity." On page 172 you'll read that Black Dragon's Caldron was formed during the winter of 1947-48, most likely by an explosion "because trees were blown out by their roots, but no one happened to be here to see it." On page 257-258 you learn about stained glass images from Yellowstone that are located within the Yellowstone National Park Chapel, a non-denominational facility still used for weddings and services.
Oh, and about that swimming pool at Old Faithful? Ms. Chapple learned how to swim in it. And her childhood also taught her that once upon a time the waters of Solitary Geyser, which lies within a small clearing not far from Observation Point above Old Faithful, were "piped down to the Old Faithful Geyser Baths, across the Firehole River from Beehive Geyser, beginning in 1915. Its replacement, the Old Faithful Swimming Pool, was used until 1948."
Throughout the 392-page book you'll find, among other things, "road logs" that take you around the park (and which are broken down by tenths-of-miles), detailed geological information, suggested hikes, and copious amounts of park history.
This is a rich guidebook -- rich in detail, rich in color photographs, rich in helping you explore Yellowstone. You can stay atop of things Yellowstone by checking out the book's companion website.