The property, purchased in early December 2009, will become the association's Yellowstone Overlook Field Campus, Jeff Brown, educational director of the Yellowstone Association, told OldWestNewWest.com Travel & History Magazine, and will be used for small groups seeking educational park experiences.
Brown said the owner had been renting the three cabins on the property for area visitors, and are in excellent shape.
"They are relatively new cabins, and the most recent was built in 2001," he said.
The two large, three-bedroom, two-bathroom modern log cabins are designed for up to 12 persons and a smaller two-bedroom, one-bathroom cabin can accommodate up to five persons. they will be the core of the new Overlook Field Campus.
The association plans to open the campus May 1, 2010 and currently is taking reservations for lodging at the year-round facility, located one and a half miles from Gardiner, Mont. The campus is exclusively for park visitors participating in Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI) educational programs.
The current plan is for YAI naturalist/guides to pick up groups at the cabins in the morning and return them to the cabins after the programs, which will last about eight hours per day. Programs are designed to meet the needs, abilities and interests of each group and cover topics such as wildlife watching, geology and hiking. Several single-day programs can be linked together to create a multi-day adventure.
Brown said the National Park Service is very excited about the association's acquisition, so that the group can reach more park visitors with high quality educational programs.
"The Yellowstone Overlook Field Campus fills a real need for small groups in the area," said Brown. "We are truly grateful to our members and supporters for making this expansion possible, and we are certain that the campus will encourage even more visitors to add an important educational component to their Yellowstone experience."
The association was able to purchase the property because of a loan from one of the association's generous members.
"We are in the process of repaying the money through donations," Brown said. "Currently we are about half way there, but we need more donations. We have until the fall of 2010 to obtain pledges to repay the loan."
Acquiring the property accomplishes two goals, Brown added.
"First, adding the new Overlook Field Campus supports our educational mission, but second, it also protects a key piece of property on the northern boundry of the park for future generations," he said. "It is a beautiful location. It's bounded by the park and U.S. Forest Service land. It has a commanding view of Mammoth Hot Springs, you can see wolves from the cabin decks, and big horn sheep. It's incredible."
Questions about making donations to help support purchase of the association's Overlook Field Campus, or membership in the group can be made by calling (406) 848-2400.
To learn more about the nonprofit Yellowstone Association or the institute visit the Web site at www.yellowstoneassociation.org.
Reservations for private tours and other YAI programs and cabins at the Yellowstone Overlook Field Campus can be made by calling (406) 848-2400.
The Yellowstone Association was founded in 1933 to foster the public's understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of Yellowstone National Park and its surrounding ecosystem.
The Yellowstone Association Institute is a non-profit field school operated by the Yellowstone Association in partnership with the National Park Service. The institute was founded in 1976 and offers more than 500 courses each year on the park's plants, animals, geology and history. Courses are based at the organization's Lamar Buffalo Ranch and Yellowstone Overlook Field Campuses as well as at park hotels, and in the backcountry.
In addition to operating the institute on a break-even basis, the Yellowstone Association manages educational bookstores and a membership program that generate revenues for the National Park Service. Since its inception, the organization has raised more than $21 million for Yellowstone.