Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yellowstone Report - Day 1

After reading the multitude of reports about a "slow" fall this year in Yellowstone when it comes to wildlife, our expectations were a lowered a bit this trip. But, we have always had good luck and we hoped that it would continue.

After a late night arrival in Gardiner, we got up early and hit the park before sunrise. Blacktail Plateau Drive was open so we decided to take it as the sun crested above the horizon. This was a wise decision since we had our first encounter on this road. One of the moose from Elk Creek was hiding out along the road:

Hidden Moose

Unfortunately, this moose was moving pretty fast and that was the only shot I got off before he disappeared up the hill. However, the excitement wasn't over. A few hundred yards further we got out of the car to survey the fall color and scan the hillside. We spotted a black bear on the opposite hill but he too didn't stick around long. No decent picture, but it looked like our luck was holding since we knew not many people had seen black bears recently.

We continued down Blacktail Plateau Drive until we got to the portion that overlooked Elk Creek. We noticed cars stopped coming down the hill and followed their stares to a moose in the trees. Then, we saw another moose coming up the hill towards the road. So, we got in the car and drove down to the main road, parked and hopped out of the car.

We were just in time to see him cross the road:

3 Moose and a Black Bear before 9AM...welcome to Yellowstone!

Since we needed to pick up our rented scope, we headed to Silvergate. With scope in hand we headed back towards the Lamar Valley. Now, if you had a scope in this part of the park, what is the first thing you would do?. Yup, that's right, time for some "scope-a-goat" at Barronette. We only managed to see 3 goats as they grazed the cliffs nibbling the small plants in their paths. But, we always enjoy watching them navigate around the cliffs.

On to the Lamar where where, I couldn't pass up some tree and landscape shots:
Lamar Valley


In the afternoon, we headed down to Hayden to see if there was some action there, but we came up empty accept for this cooperative Gray Jay:
Gary Jay

As the afternoon turned into evening, we went up to Tower to continue our search for black bears. They were all over this place in May so there HAD to be some..right?...wrong. We saw no black bears at Tower. In fact, that morning black bear was the only one we would see all week.

We did run into the resident herd of Bighorn Sheep at Tower as they munched on grass near Rainy Lake:
Bighorn Sheep

So, our first day was done. But, it was action packed so after a good dinner at Pedalinos, we hit the sack with high expectations for tomorrow.

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