Its June again so it must be time to go to Yellowstone and the
. Seven nights in Yellowstone and 2 in the Tetons. This is
our third straight trip. The weather forecasts call for 50 during
the day and 28 at night so that isn't so bad. We'll take all of
our layers and hope for the best. After all, its June so how bad
could it be. Its going to be 95 here in Virginia.
We started on June 7 with a 6:00AM flight on United Airlines. We left on
time and didn't have a problem at all. There was a 3 hour layover
in Denver but we knew that. What we didn't know was that there would be
around another hour waiting for United to get the pilots to Denver so we
could leave. No wonder their on-time stats are poor.
We finally left and headed to Jackson Hole, WY. The flight was
uneventful. Getting to the terminal wasn't. The wind was
howling and there was a light snow. What happened to June?
Oh well, we're where we want to be. We picked up the car from
Thrifty Car Rental in Jackson and loaded up with stuff for the ice chest. It
was raining / snowing but we were still happy.
As we headed north, the Tetons were beautiful. At least when you
could see them. Many clouds and weather around. As we got
closer to Moran Junction, you could see how dark it was up Yellowstone
way. We stopped at Oxbow Bend and couldn't even see Mt. Moran.
Not long after Jackson Lake, it was snowing like crazy. The roads
were OK but visibility wasn't. We were heading to Lake and a cabin
so at least it wasn't a long drive. Long enough though in that
kind of weather. You could still see deep snow along the side of
We checked in at Lake and there was no power in the hotel.
The staff at reception did a good job of quickly adapting to paper
we had power in our frontier cabin. We were warm. We walked
over to the lodge to look around and take some pictures. I thought
you had to come in January to see all the snow. Dinner was from
the ice chest since we didn't have reservations at the hotel and the lodge wasn't
open. By our standards, it was a successful start to the trip.
For what it's worth, the cabins are nice by park standards.
We got up early Sunday morning to head up through Hayden Valley. We
were spending the next three
nights at Roosevelt. Snow
on the car and no scraper. At least it wasn't frozen solid.
Hayden Valley was a little strange in the snow. Sort of pretty but
too overcast to get decent pictures. We also didn't see anything
other than a bison walking down the center of the road. We did stop at Artist's Point
to get some pictures of the falls but they're prettier in the sun. It was the first of 3 stops
there and all were different. There wasn't too much snow but the
pictures were interesting.
Dunraven Pass was closed so we had to get to Roosevelt by way of Norris.
Not much to
see. We did make a quick stop at an elk jam.
People were walking way close to the elk to get pictures with their
point and shoot cameras. Breaking the law and messing up our
pictures. There's a picture of one lady in the albums.
If you know her, suggest she get a bigger zoom lens. When
we got to Mammoth, we stopped at the hot springs. It was still
snowing but not much. We walked around them some but didn't climb
to the top. Too lazy I suppose.
We stopped at the Petrified Tree on the way in. We didn't see
anything at the parking area so we turned
around. On the way back out we saw three moose.
The two we got pictures of were male. Not sure about the other one
since it hung out behind the trees. It would have been better with
actual sunlight but it was OK anyway. Several people stopped to
take pictures but shared the space nicely. There wasn't a ranger
around be everyone kept it worked out anyway.
We were able to check in at Roosevelt at 11:00AM. That was great
since we could unload
lot of the stuff. This year we had Rough Rider cabin with 2 double beds so we had more room
than last year but it was chilly outside. Last year it was warm and we
didn't need the little, inadequate stove so I don't know which is
better. We were supposed to take the horseback ride for the cowboy
cookout. They cancelled the horseback ride due to lousy weather so we
cancelled too. They still had 100 people ride
the wagons out to the cookout. After we checked in and unloaded, we were off to Calcite
Springs and Tower Fall. We saw big horn sheep at Calcite Springs but not
Rosie the black bear. When we went a little further, there was a jam.
Turned out it was Rosie and the cinnamon cub. That was the first
time folks realized there was a cub left. The suspicion was that a
boar attacked and killed the smaller black one and maybe both.
When we got back to Tower, we headed into Lamar Valley. It was raining
and there wasn't a lot to see. We stopped at Slough Creek.
Some of the folks there showed us where the wolf den is but we didn't see any
thing. Almost to hazy / snowy to see the hill, much less the den.
We did see a badger behind us though. That was cool since it was
the first one I've seen. All in all, Sunday was a good day.
But then in Yellowstone, they're all good days.
Monday morning we were up early but didn't get to Slough Creek until
6:30AM. We missed most of the pack waking up and heading up the
hill. What we did see was cool anyway. Looking through our
new Swarovski scope, we saw a black wolf, a grizzly sow and two yearling
cubs near the den. While watching, two elk walked behind
them. The grizzlies were too near the den and making the wolf
nervous. The wolf couldn't do much with the grizzlies but stayed
there anyway. Nothing came of it but it was fascinating to watch.
Later on we saw two grizzlies at the foot bridge turnout. One
looked huge. They were a ways off but the scope saved us again. We
watched the big male scratch his back against the tree up
on the ridge. Must have been a heck of a tree. We're
thinking we like this new scope for sure. We headed back and had
lunch at the Yellowstone Picnic area. We hiked part of the
Specimen Ridge trail but got lazy again. It was nice to see part
of it. Nice wildflowers too.
As we headed back to Calcite Springs again we got caught in a bear jam.
All for a sleeping black bear
that you could barely see. He
finally woke up to the delight of the crowd. The folks and rangers
kept it all worked out. We found that Dunraven Pass opened too.
We drove up there just to look around. Large mounds of snow along
the road but none on it. Unlike last year, we didn't see any bears
on the way up. Time for dinner and back to the lodge. I like
Roosevelt and their restaurant is my favorite.
On Tuesday, it was back to Slough Creek. This time we got there at
6:00. Nothing much
going on. We did see two bald eagles
together on the ground and we got to watch a solo female black wolf.
We were told she had been kicked out of the pack. It was still fun
to meet some of the people hanging out there to watch the wolves even
though there wasn't much action.
Next order of business was at the Foot Bridge turnout at the end of
Lamar. We missed the bears today but saw a black wolf. It
was apparently one of the Druids. It wasn't doing anything but
wandering around. At one point it sat down and howled while we
watched. It was neat so see and hear that. There's also a
badger den there so we watched 3 little ones playing. We made
other stops there but this was the only time we saw them.
After all that, we had lunch and went out to Floating Island Lake.
We saw the Sandhill Cranes again with
the chicks. A young male
moose showed up. We watched him for a while and he wandered up the
shoreline. We even got a picture of the moose and the cranes
Neither seemed to care about the other. The moose kept walking and
then started running. The last time we saw him he was still
running over the next hill. Not sure what spooked him.
We didn't see much else until later in the afternoon. We were
leaving Slough Creek and a coyote jumped into the sage ahead of us.
We then noticed an elk herd off to the right. They suddenly came
to attention. They closed the circle with the calves in the
middle. Many adults looking our direction. After a while, they finally
split. I guess the coyote had their attention. It was
interesting to watch the herd's reaction to a threat. We tried
to get some pictures of them but it was snowing and not much light.
You could barely tell they were elk.
As we got back to Roosevelt, the snow turned into a blizzard.
Visibility was very poor. It was pretty to see but hard on
wildlife looking. The temperature was dropping too. We
decided to give it up for the day since it was getting late anyway.
We enjoyed the snow and walked to the lodge for dinner. Seemed
like a good day for a bison sirloin. That evening we built a fire
in the little stove but it didn't last long enough. They did have
enough blankets though. I think the cabins were in were hard to
heat since they were a little larger.
Wednesday morning was cold. It was 28 degrees outside and 38 inside.
The fire went out during the night. We slept warm enough and just got
dressed quickly. Very quickly. At least we didn't have to go down the
path to visit bathroom during the night.
We headed out at 5:30AM or so. Nothing at Slough Creek so we kept
going. We ran into the wolf people further out in Lamar. We
grabbed a parking spot and headed up the bank with the scope.
There had been a kill by the Druids the night before. We couldn't
see it but could see the ravens and the occasional wolf. As we
watched, a bison herd moved on up the valley. The four wolves
started probing the herd for weaknesses. There weren't any.
We saw the bison circle the calves and another time watched two bison
chase a wolf back into the sage. It was fascinating to watch.
Its worth another mention of the scope. Without it, we wouldn't
have seen much of this at all. While were watching, coyotes
started howling very close behind us. I'm sure I jumped
because they sure startled me. We weren't able to get any pictures
but sure had fun watching. I need a new lens (and a job).
all we really had time for since this was move day. We went back to Roosevelt
to check out. It was snowing pretty hard
and that set the tone for the rest
of the day. We looked at the small falls behind the lodge and
headed down the road. The road to Mammoth and Norris that is.
Dunraven was closed again. The snow was falling hard most of the
way between Mammoth and Norris. The had snow tire warnings between
Norris and Canyon but the roads were in good shape. We checked in
to Canyon and just chilled for the rest of the day. It was nice
having a heater and bathroom in our Frontier Cabin, no matter how much snow there was.
Actually, there wasn't as much snow as we expected.
We slept in Thursday morning. The forecast was for
When we got up, there was 4 inches of new white stuff on the ground.
We went into Hayden Valley first thing after breakfast. Nothing going on.
Just snow and a fair amount of it. We stopped at Artist Point to
see the falls in the snow and took several pictures. From there it was off to Old
Faithful. That was pretty much a bust too. We saw Old
Faithful erupt from a distance and the Upper Geyser Basin had nothing
going on. We normally see Old Faithful twice and 3 or 4 smaller
ones erupt. Not this time. I guess our timing was off.
On the way back, we headed into Hayden Valley again. This time
there were two sows with cubs at Trout
Creek. We were able to see
both with the scope. A boar showed up later to make 5 bears on
that hill side. After dinner, we were able to see one the pairs
fairly near the road and get some pictures. Another nice day in
the park. If you know what the bowtie or butterfly snow fields
are, you may have been there too.
Friday was our last full day in Yellowstone before moving to the Tetons.
We did our usual thing and headed into Hayden Valley. We stopped
at Trout Creek and watched a big male for a while with the scope.
There was a nasty cold wind blowing across there so we moved on south.
We went to Fishing Bridge for coffee. When we got back to Trout
Creek the same bear was still there. We watched for a bit and then
headed to Lamar Valley the hard way. Dunraven was still closed.
We didn't see much on the way. We passed a small moose jam but
didn't stop. We
stopped at Sheepeater Cliffs but they had closed
the area where the kill was in the water. We kept going and did
stop at Floating Island Lake. This time we knew the chicks were
there. (They were there the last time but we didn't realize it
until seeing the pictures at home.) We were able to get some decent pictures. No moose
this time but all was good anyway. We stopped in Lamar Valley but
didn't really see anything. Dunraven finally opened so we we
headed that way. We did see a family of big horn sheep near Tower
Fall so that was fun. Not much else on the way back to Canyon.
After dinner, it was back to Trout Creek. The sow and cub were out
again. The cub
really liked the snow but mom not so much.
One time the cub seemed to go "Yeehaw" and took off for the snow.
Just like any kid I imagine. We saw a different male grizzly from
a nearby turnout but he disappeared. We also saw a herd of elk
that seemed freaked out. I think they lost a calf but can't be
certain. There were 4 left behind as a rear guard or they were
looking for something. You couldn't tell from where we were.
Fun to watch, in any event.
Saturday was leaving day. It was finally warming up some and was
time to leave. We headed back into
Hayden Valley before
leaving. We saw the same bears again but not much more. Last
year there were large bison herds here but not this year. There
appears to be a couple of reasons for this. These bison migrate
west to look for grazing at lower elevations. Some of them
probably hadn't seen the reason to migrate back yet. The bison
kill during the winter had to contribute to it as well. Between
400 and 700 bison died during the hard winter.
Another 1600 were killed on lands outside Yellowstone
represents roughly half of the bison population in the park. The
conflict causing the slaughter is a fear of brucellosis being
transferred to the cattle in the area. The
Buffalo Field Campaign
has interesting information on this topic as
does the article linked above. It was more
interesting last year with the bison herds around since the calves are so much fun
to watch and photograph. None the less, we had a great time.
From here we headed to Grand Teton National Park. That story is
separate from this one. If you'd like to read it and see the
you can click here
or use the menu button at the top of the
article. There's pictures from that part of the trip as well.