One day in Yellowstone (8/8/2013)

This summer we had an amazing 16 day road trip. We drove over 3,000 miles through 7 states (California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Arizona) and 5 National Parks (Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce, and Zion + Craters of the Moon & Valley of Fire). Although the whole trip was excellent, one day in particular was almost two good to believe. Even though I had been telling my kids before the trip started that this would be the trip of a lifetime, by the end of this particular day, my wife and I were telling our kids that they were incredibly lucky to experience the day we had just had.

All of the four days we spend in Yellowstone were great, but one day was clearly the highlight of our trip. We started the tenth day of our trip by having breakfast, packing up the SUV, and checking out of our hotel in Gardiner Montana. Just inside the North entrance to Yellowstone one of my sons spotted a small group of animals grazing in the wide open field. I wondered why the animals (which I assumed were deer) would be out in the wide open. Reviewing our pictures later my oldest son determined that they must have been Pronghorns, given their distinctive white markings, rather than mule deer which makes sense given that they are the fastest animal in America (second only to cheetahs), so they have little to fear being in the open. When we got to the Mammoth area, my wife noticed what she thought was an animal behind one of the buildings. We backed up, got out of the car, walked around the building and sure enough, a herd of cows and baby elk were resting in the shade behind one of the buildings. A steady stream of cars were driving by without noticing them.

We then continued into the park heading for some of the major sights we hadn't seen in the prior two days. Our amazing luck continued as we came across slowed traffic. We asked a worker walking past us what was going on and he said there had been a bear, implying it had moved on. When we got further along my wife spotted not one, but three bears (a mom and two cubs) foraging just above the road. I was in the best position to get a picture and tried to take some good pictures, while not getting into an accident. But the ranger turned on his load speaker and told us to "move the car" as I inched along, probably to clear the road for the bears' (and our) safety.

As we continued south, we stopped at various vistas and hikes in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We hiked down to the lower falls to stand within feet of the falls (video and my son's downsized pics of the Canyon 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). On one of the side roads, we came across a mom and two baby deer. We stopped traffic so one seemingly fearless young deer (twice he advanced toward me and stomped his front feet) could cross the road and get back to it's mother. As we continued south, we came to Hayden Valley, one of the areas of the park usually populated with Bison (we saw other herds in Lamar Valley two days earlier). The Bison were very active with many crossing the road between cars, and we even saw several swim across the river. As we continued south toward Yellowstone Lake it started raining. At one point, traffic slowed and we came up on a bull elk laying near the road as if enjoying the steady stream of cars and people passing by to gawk at him. Further down the road we found another bull elk watching traffic, but from closer to the road and a third bull elk was walking along the side of the road grazing. I pulled around and positioned us so he could walk relatively close along side us (30 second elk video). I probably would have kept a little more distance if I had seen this video of elk ramming cars before the trip. We finally made it to our destination for the night (Grant's Village), where finally got to relax and review our trip journal, pictures and videos.

Yellowstone Videos

Some other videos from our trip

Wildlife we saw on our trip included

Last updated 9/1/2013

Copyright 2013 Gary Karz. All rights reserved