Wildlife, Yellowstone National Park
Favorite thing: Oh the adorable Yellow Bellied Marmot! I was so happy to get a chance to see this little fella. He must have been out for a last minute snack just before he turned in for hibernation. They start their hibernation in late summer and don't emerge again until May. The Marmot is related to the woodchuck, it's approximately the same size. They like high elevations and make there burrows near rocks so they can climb on top and use them as lookout towers.
Earlier in the day when we had stopped at a lookoff in Gallatin National Forest, I had commented to Lou that I would really like to see a Pronghorn Antelope. Only a few hours later my wish would come true.
The word Antelope just seems so exotic. I hear antelope and I picture African plains. Strange to think there are some in America! With the Abilty to run over 45 miles per hour, they are definately america's fastest land animal.
There is a small here of these lovely creatures in the park. Our photo guide told us that the population was dwindling and the rangers were
concerned about inbreeding. I hope they recover. They are just gorgeous.
Fondest memory: Spotting this guy up on a hillside while driving down the one way Beartooth Plateau drive. I was so excited to see him.
American Bison, also known as Buffalo are so prevalent in the park you may start to take them for granted. When you see people stopped on the side of the road you generally are curious, when you find out it is Bison they are stopping to see your response may be "Oh just more Buffalo..."
Lou and I would try and snap ourselves out of this train of thought. I mean they really are incredible animals.
The Herd that roams Yellowstone Park has been in the area since prehistoric times. There are thousands of them! They are the only truly wild Buffalo left.
Some of the herd has been killed in effort to protect livestock from a disease called brucellosis. This disease causes immature birth with cattle. In winter, the bison will travel outside of the park searching for lower ground to keep warm. The ranchers fear that the buffalo will come into contact with their cattle and transfer the disease to them. There are not a lot of cattle that even graze very close to the park. There is a bill in the works to protect the Buffalo. If you'd like, take a look at the links to sign a petition in favor of the bill, and to look at the bill itself.
Fondest memory: We actually spent 1 1/2 days in the park (next time we would like to spend more time in order to see everything) but we were simply blown away by the amount of wildlife roaming everywhere...it seemed like you could almost reach out and touch them. Whether walking along the road (bison) or relaxing in the river, it's an amazing sight to behold.
With a wing-span of up to 6 ft. I never expected to see Pelicans so far inland. They nest in the park and are quite common in Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake.
Other birds you may observe around water are Canada's Geese, Mallards and Trumpeter Swans.
Favorite thing: Like I've already said, animals have the right of way in all cases, especially the buffaloes, which might be the match for your compact or economy cars. Buffaloes have been known to cross in single file directly between the tightly-packed bumpers of stalled traffic. Do NOT take any chances. Not everyone has seen a buffalo before or perhaps ones this close, so not everyone is using their smarts when they pause to study one. Be aware that buffaloes can outrun you and are quicker than they appear. If the park bulletins about annual gorings didn't startle you, confronting a handful of these creatures up close will likely restore your respect for their size and speed.
Wildlife have the right-of-way in the national parks, and with such a preponderance at Yellowstone, chances are that, once or twice during your visit, they will come too close for comfort.
Do not be surprised if you leave your car and are suddenly confronted by a moose. Do not be surprised if your car is stalled in a long train of crawling motorists, only to have a train of buffalo suddenly divide the column. Do not forget that a buffalo rising from its dust bath is still capable of running 30 mph.
Fondest memory: Sometimes you don't have to work to find the animals. As often as not, they will work to find you.
If you never leave the park road -- regardless of what national park you're visiting -- you'll get a taste of what the park has to offer. Yellowstone is no different. You can drive through forests, through mountain passes, along endless plains, alongside mighty rivers, next to charming waterfalls, and especially through wildlife habitats extraordinaire.
The park road follows a figure 8 and reaches every quarter of the park. Sometimes however a certain segment is closed, requiring the motorist to take three-quarters of the loop on a road that is already overwhelmed with bumper-to-bumper traffic. In May 1995, the road from Canyon to Tower was closed. In July 2000 it was open, and our first acquaintance yielded a family of three black bears (a sow and two cubs) alongside Antelope Creek (which is also a favorite with grizzlies).
Ask rangers at the numerous visitor centers where wildlife are known to concentrate. There are no guarantees, but probabilities are better in specific areas of the park. When you concentrate on a specific theater, chances are you will eventually encounter the wildlife you are seeking.
Fondest memory: Yellowstone has more wildlife than any other park in the lower 48 states. Traveling the park road will encounter a great range of wildlife and topography. Some of the greatest natural spectacles are just a few steps from the road.
Favorite thing: You see lots of different animals in YNP. I think I mostly saw squirrels running around in the forests. They are not really shy, that´s why I had the chance to take a photo of one of them which was collecting food for the winter.
Favorite thing: Yellowstone is home to the largest herds of Elk in the US. They are all over the park and can be seen any time of the day.
Favorite thing: I happened to come across upon a pair of wolves. A rare sight of crossing a highway just north of yellowstone lake.
More Wildlife encounters while driving thru the park.
My favorite was this American Bald Eagle at dawn...
Favorite thing: An early morning start will allow you to catch some of Yellowstone's nocturnal wildlife such as the red fox.
Favorite thing: Black bear are prevalent through the park. Here is a cub exploring the area while his mother watches.
Favorite thing: We were lucky to see some bisons out of a car. They are a few times faster than a human being, so be careful in approaching them to take a photo!