Knowing that the best time to see wildlife in Yellowstone is in the early morning, I told Marcia that we should be on the road by 7 am. I think we were entering the park‘s West Entrance at 6:40. It did not take us long before we saw our first bit of Yellowstone Wildlife…
…yep, a Bison, aka: Buffalo. Back in 2012 I promised Marcia that we would see a lot of Buffalo. Took a quick trip into the park the first evening we got to the area…no buffalo. Took a full day trip the next day, saw Old Faithful, some Elk, some Deer, but no Buffalo. The next day I promised her that we would see some Buffalo before we left the park, and sure enough, we had a close up and personal encounter with them. By the time the week was over, she was Buffaloed out! Well today, we saw this lone Buffalo first thing headed toward the valley as we were barely into the park.
A little further down the road we see a few Elk. Seems like we always see some Elk between the West Entrance and Madison Junction. These three looked a bit thin, but they did survive the winter, and I am sure they will be looking better in a month or so. Later we see a couple larger Elk while we are on our way back to the motorhome, those pictures will come later.
At Madison Junction we see our first herd of Buffalo. There seemed to be three distinct herds today between Madison Junction and Old Faithful, with a few stragglers here and there.
On the left this multilegged Buffalo turns out to be a mother and baby on the right. (Note, the sun came out from the cloud cover and really highlighted them.)
When you see a car pulled over, especially this early in the morning, you slow, pull over, and watch…and if you are lucky, you see a wolf cross the road in front of you.
And “if” you are really lucky, the wolf will stop, look back at you, before it heads back along to its real interest, ducks swimming in a small, shallow stream along some tall grasses. If you are a bit unlucky, the wolf will be standing with the morning sun behind him making it hard to get a good picture.
So as you continue on toward Old Faithful, your wife praises the Lord for allowing us to see a wolf out in the open as we did, and adds, “Ok now Lord, how about a bear?” A few more miles down the road and we take the Old Faithful exit, which takes us up and over the main roadway we were on…and just as I start to follow the turn to the left over the roadway, a very large grassy field appears over the elevated roadway, and there it is. “Well Marcia, there is your bear!”, I say. She thinks to herself, “Ya, right…” and she looks out into the field, as I slow to a crawl, and then a stop, and yes, there it is. A very large Grizzly Bear.
Well, that is the biggest bear I have ever seen in nature. Thank goodness we had a good enough camera to capture it from a safe, very safe, distance. And as for Marcia? She took every single bear picture, and many of the other pictures today too. She said that taking the pictures of the bear gave her the chills…and as she talked about our day at breakfast later, she said it still gave her the chills.
On our way back to the motorhome, we did see the larger Elk that I talked about earlier, and some more buffalo. Way off in the far distance I saw another wolf or Coyote, but even in full zoom mode I can only tell that it was the size as a large, thin dog. Saw a guy with one of those cameras with a lens that’s a mile long…good for him, not interested in lugging one of them around...but I'll bet he can see the hair on its head with that thing.
Rest of the day was spent doing laundry and resting and trying to figure out where to go from here on Monday.
Note: Yesterday I said that the camping in the park was not open yet, but there are three or four places one can camp now, and there are empty spots. Full hookups at Fish Creek RV Park, about $49 per night and senior pass will NOT give you a discount (but will give you free entrance into the park of course). Madison Campground is open, $11.50 with senior pass and reservations are taken, and Mammoth Campground, $10 with senior pass and is first come, first serve, and all three are not currently full. Here is a good link for those interested. (We might stay in Mammoth Monday night after we leave here.)