Associate Professor of Biological Science
In 1963, Biology Professor Kenton Miller was a recent high school graduate with no immediate plans to begin college. He was playing drums for a rock band in his hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma when a friend suggested they escape to Yellowstone for a month.
”While we were there, we agreed to come back as often as we could,” Miller said. “Other than a few years when I was building my family and career, we have done that.”
Since then, Miller estimates that he has hiked every trail in Yellowstone — all 1,300 miles of them. He and that same friend continue to enjoy Yellowstone so much that they have collaborated to develop a hiking guide to be published in fall 2009.
”Ninety-eight percent of Yellowstone is backcountry, but most people don’t get 600 feet from a parking lot or boardwalk,” Miller said. “People are intimidated by the thought of going too far into the wilderness, and they are missing the real Yellowstone.”
The guide, titled Ten Easy Day Hikes in Yellowstone: A Geezer’s Guide, is intended to help people who might not normally feel that they are able to complete a challenging wilderness hike. These hikes would be manageable even for the elderly, disabled, or families with small children.
Miller provided all the photography for the guidebook. Trained as a photographer during his Army career, Miller easily filled the handbook with his photos of sites and landmarks on the trail.
”I got to use my photography skills and take some beautiful shots,” Miller said. “But the photos also help the hikers know exactly where they are and that makes them feel safer.”
Miller said he hopes a PBS series by Ken Burns on the National Park System will inspire people to make the trip to Yellowstone before it is too late.
”The trees are dying,” Miller said. “Beetles are killing the white pines, which are a major staple for bears and other wildlife. That, combined with several warm winters, an ongoing drought, and some other hazards are going to affect the area. People have to go and see it now.”