Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yellowstone - May 10, 2009

Today was day 2 of our 14 hour roadtrip. The first day of driving from Northern CA to Twin Falls Idaho is not very exciting. In fact, the only excitement we had was when we would pass a car with a license plate we didn't have yet. Thank goodness for the license plate kept us going.

But, the drive on day 2 is much nicer. We even saw some Marmots outside Twin Falls. After picking up sandwiches at Ernie's in W. Yellowstone, we entered the park.

The further towards Madison we got, the more things like cubicles, commutes, meetings, and deadlines disappeared from our minds. Both elk and bison were plentiful along the river to Madison. Just before Roaring Mountain we had our first jam. A Ranger was onsite so we guessed correctly that this was a bear jam. A grizzly was foraging in a meadow and we watched it for about 1/2 hour before moving on.

Right before Mammoth we stopped in the Hoodoos to look for pika. I did see one but it was too far away for a picture so I took a landscape instead:

Hoodoo Overlook

After checking in at the Absaroka and dumping our stuff, we headed out towards Tower. At Elk creek, we spotted our first black bear and at the lower meadow on the way to Tower, we spotted our second:

Black Bear

On to the Lamar Valley where we had many bison, elk and pronghorn. Among them was a grizzly nibbling grass in the middle of the valley. We continued on past Soda Butte and into Round Prairie where we saw our first moose of the trip:


As we headed back through the Lamar Valley again, we spotted two coyotes running together. At the Yellowstone picnic area, we had a really cool encounter with male bighorn sheep. We had seen some last May but not this close. And they were very cooperative for photos:

Bighorn Rams

Bighorn Ram

The sun was starting to go down now, so we headed back to Gardiner. As we went through Mammoth there was just enough light to see a black bear wandering on the hill behind the hotel.

Although, we only had a half day in the park, it was a good half day. The 14 hours of driving was well worth it already.

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