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Can You Improve Old Faithful?

By Brian Davidson
Uncharted Staff

If you’ve got a snazzy idea to improve one of the United States’ premier tourist attractions, now’s the time to do it.

Planners at Yellowstone National Park want your help to improve the developed area around Old Faithful, the park’s most famous geyser. The developed area encompasses everything from the Old Faithful Inn to the boardwalks through the geyser complex to the acres and acres of parking lots that spread south of the geyser itself.

The park is also looking for ways to preserve the geyser area for future generations, protect wildlife habitat and more quickly respond to changing visitor and resource needs.

The comment period is open now, and closes at midnight, June 7, 2010. Comments will be accepted electronically through the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps,gov, by hand-delivery at the park’s headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, or by mail at the following address:

Comprehensive Planning & Design
Old Faithful Area Comprehensive Plan
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

You can deliver your electronic comment using the link here. The perk service isn’t accepting comments by phone or via direct e-mail.

The park service will also host three open houses on the plan starting in just a few days:

May 17, Old Faithful Warming Hut, 6-8 pm
May 18, Yellowstone Association Headquarters, Gardiner, MT
May 19, Visitor Contact Station, West Yellowstone, MT

All open houses will take place from 6-8 pm.

The trick will be to balance what sound like good ideas with what makes for a wonderful Old Faithful experience. Some kind of stadium seating, for one, might be handy, as crowds around the geyser can be thick and seats are scarce – but then who wants to swim through a stadium to see a geyser, or have stadium seating block long-distance views? Maybe just a few levels?

And picnic areas. Old Faithful needs more of them. They’re always at a premium, so finding a spot that’s not already occupied by someone else is difficult.

I agree that parking at the geyser is ugly, not only from an acres of asphalt perspective, but simply for trying to navigate through the parking lot to get to the geyser. Better directional signs and marked pedestrian paths would be helpful, especially if those paths crossed as few roads as possible.

I’m sure you’ve got better ideas. Send them on.

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