Saturday, September 17, 2011

Days 33-34: Yellowstone National Park

We entered Yellowstone National Park at the north entrance at Gardiner, Montana, on the morning of September 9, 2007, which was Day 33 of our Alaska trip. We made telephone contact with Larry and Jeannette, friends from home who were visiting Yellowstone at the same time, and agreed to meet them later in the day.

As usual, there were lots of elk at Mammoth Hot Springs. We drove down the west side of the upper loop, then across the middle of the figure eight to the Canyon Village on the east side. It began snowing while we were there, so we decided just to go on down to the Fishing Bridge RV Park and get checked in.

100_0797-Yellowstone NP-Bison in Snow
Buffalo in a snow squall

By the time we had done that, the snow had stopped, and the day was getting pretty again. So we decided not to linger in the campground. We drove to Hayden Valley to try to spot some wolves. We did see a white one that the ranger in attendance said was the alpha female. We saw her moving around in the distance as we pulled into the turnout, but then she lay down and was hard to see. The ranger had a spotting scope set up and was letting people look at the wolf through the scope, but even with that magnification we could see only a white speck where she lay.

Larry and Jeannette were just exiting the campground when we returned that evening; but they spotted us and circled back. We parked Harvey; then we all went together in their truck to have supper at the Lake Lodge Cafeteria.

HPIM1902-Supper with Burkes at Lake Lodge in Yellowstone NP

The next day, Monday, September 10, 2007, Day 34, was just a wonderful day. Larry and Jeannette had invited us to tour the lower loop with them, and we decided to take them up on it. That meant Doug had a day off from driving, and that made him very happy.

We hadn't gone far before we saw a grizzly, with what appeared to be a yearling cub, not far off the road.

100_0825a-Yellowstone NP-Grizzly Bear & Cub

Later, we saw elk and a black bear that seemed almost to be playing with part of an animal carcass. He would grab it and start to drag it, then turn and run away from it. Doug thought maybe he was stealing the carcass from another animal, probably a grizzly, and was afraid of being caught. Or maybe he was just afraid of all the human bear watchers. But, whatever, it was a special treat to watch him. We also saw a coyote, close to the road; and, of course, there were the ever-present buffalo.

100_0874-Yellowstone NP-Bull Elk in Woods
Bull elk napping in the woods

100_0878a-Yellowstone NP-Black Bear
Black bear, apparently studying how best to steal an elk carcass

100_0882a-Yellowstone NP-Black Bear
He would drag it a ways, then run off as if being chased, always to return and drag it a little further.

100_0885a-Yellowstone NP-Black Bear

100_0904a-Yellowstone NP-Black Bear
Here, he had dropped the carcass and run and jumped up on this log, looking back as if to see whether anything was chasing him.

100_0914-Yellowstone NP-Coyote

Our day was filled with even more experiences; but, rather than try to share them all in this post, I'll save some for the next one.


  1. I have watched a web cam they have at Mammoth and Old Faithful. Loved the bear bell comment.

  2. Steve - Yellowstone is just an amazing place, with its geysers, beautiful canyon and waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. Glad you enjoyed the bear bell remark. :)

  3. These photo's are incredible, I would be just so thrilled to have seen any of these in real life, you're so lucky! :o)

  4. More wildlife overload! I'm jealous. :) My parents went there this summer but I've never been.

  5. Deborah - Thanks so much for the kind words and for letting me share the photos with you.

    Elizabeth - We love watching wildlife, and it's one of the main reasons we love Yellowstone.


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