I mentioned in the previous post that I'd be splitting up this subject into 2 parts, with the last one covering our time in Jackson, Wyoming, viewpoints, hikes, etc. This post, I'll be covering what wildlife we saw, and other interesting things to note. Here we go:
Yellowstone National Park, as I mentioned in my last Yellowstone post, is abundant with wildlife. Likely, the most common animal that you'll encounter is a bison. The bison are everywhere in Yellowstone, and it'd really be hard not to find one (or two or five or ten). The downside to their recurring sightings is that they are frequently stopping traffic by crossing the road. We got stopped no less than 3 times by crossing bison. There are really two reasons why traffic slows when bison are crossing. The first reason dominates the first half of the traffic time. It's the fact that the bison are, well, crossing the road. It's a Yellowstone rule that the bison have the right of way, so everyone must stop. The second reason is that a lot of people are goggling at the bison after they've crossed the road. This results in more traffic, and backs up cars for a very long while. However, they're also really cool to look at while in action, since (most of the time) they're really majestic looking. One night, for example, when we were riding back to the RV park, we encountered some buffalo right next to the road, where there were 2-3 little calves chasing each other! They were kicking up dust, and making little grunts every once in a while. This encounter was super cool, and we really enjoyed seeing it.
Another great wildlife encounter that we had was with on my mom's birthday (see OTHER category for more details), and we were on our way to her birthday dinner at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room. (Again, for more details, see OTHER category). Happening upon a large crowd of people taking pictures at we-didn't-know-what on a large grass field, we stopped and had a look. You see, we had learned, from being there for a few days, that when a lot of people are stopped at a place looking at something, you should stop and look too. So, we looked for what was causing such a big to-do. And we looked. And looked. And we still couldn't see anything. Then we noticed that a lot of people had binoculars or telescopes. Well, we didn't have any binoculars or telescopes, so we asked what they were seeing. "Wolves," they said, "are stalking some elk". Wow! Isn't that neat? But we could only see these little dots. Well, that was really cool, but after a while of looking we went to dinner. After dinner, we went back the same way to get home. We happened upon the same crowd again, and asked if they were still watching the wolves. "Oh yes," they said, "We have been watching them. They just killed a baby calf. You can see those dots over there. They're dragging it into the woods." Whoah. It was amazing to think that those were wolves with a dead baby elk who was alive before we ate dinner. That we might have actually seen him alive. This was pretty extraordinary and almost uncanny.
One other animal that we saw at Yellowstone was a bear. All week we'd been trying to see a bear. It was one of the days that I went out alone with my dad. We were driving by when, like the instance with the wolves, we saw a crowd of people. Naturally, we stopped. There was a black bear a mere 250ish feet away on the other side of a river. This was really amazing, since I’ve never seen a bear in the wild. He was just lumbering along, apparently looking for food. We really enjoyed seeing this bear.
Also, we got to see a few mule deer and elk, although this wasn’t quite as stunning as seeing the other creatures. However, one time we did get to see a mother mule deer with her baby from our car. That was really cool.
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE:
I’ve covered all of my main topics, but now I’m just going to give a few minor things that I think are probably good to note. Let’s take a look.
Traffic: Traffic in Yellowstone National Park is pretty unpredictable. As I mentioned in the WILDLIFE section, a spotting of an animal can slow down traffic immensely. Also, there’s 2 or 3 places that have construction on them, causing there to be a one lane road for a 7-10 mile stretch, which causes up to 45 minute delays. This was pretty annoying. I would recommend that you allow an extra (at least) 30 minute add on to your travel time for every hour that you think you’ll be traveling.
The Birthday: My mom had her birthday while we were in Yellowstone, and we celebrated by spending the day in the park. We really enjoyed our time there, and were able to see the wolves, and enjoy a great dinner at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room. My mom had a great birthday, and we were glad to spend it with her in this fashion.
The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center: One of the days that we were in Yellowstone, Vice President Pence and his wife visited Old Faithful. So, as you can imagine, traffic was pretty bad. We decided that, for the sake of our sanity and well-being, we'd stay out of the park that day. Luckily for us, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center was in the town that we were staying near. The Discovery Center was like a mini educational zoo. It housed about 7 or 8 grizzly bears, and the same number of wolves. We really enjoyed exploring this center, and learned quite a bit about the two different creatures. They also had a birds of prey presentation that we attended. Here, we learned all about different birds of prey, and got to see an owl and a hawk.
Overall, our time in Yellowstone was phenomenal. We hiked some really neat trails, saw some amazing sights, learned a plethora of information, and really got to see a small part of creation. We'd definitely rank Yellowstone on our top National Parks, and would recommend it as such. With only 7 days left in our incredible journey, we are excited to bring home with us some of the lessons we learned on the trip. Stay tuned!
Will is 14, and enjoys running track, writing,