Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park
Driving from the Canyon Village towards Yellowstone Lake will take you next through Hayden Valley. The scenery mellows in contrast to the wildness of the Grand Canyon. Meadows extend from both sides of the river. A herd of bison was in place while we were driving through. One big bull came up slowly from the meadow floor, munching away until he finally crossed the road causing the inevitable animal traffic jam.
One of the place we stopped on the Ring of Fire tour was Hayden Valley - we stopped to take photos of the bison. Hayden Valley is a large, sub-alpine valley along the Yellowstone River between Yellowstone Falls and Yellowstone Lake. The valley is well known as one of the best locations to view wildlife in Yellowstone. Mostly what we saw was bison although some people said they saw elk and other animals.
The Hayden Valley was once filled by an arm of Yellowstone Lake. and it contains fine-grained lake sediments that are now covered with glacial till left from the most recent glacial retreat 13,000 years ago. Because the glacial till contains many different grain sizes, including clay and a thin layer of lake sediments, water cannot percolate readily into the ground. This is why the Hayden Valley is marshy and has little encroachment of trees.
The Hayden Vally is more popular than the remote Lamar Valley for wildlife viewing. Since it is so central to other sights in the park, it is more crowded. We had equal luck in viewing animals in both valleys though wolves only in Lamar. It is a very pretty valley and again, even if there were no wildlife, it would be a nice drive. Of course, in Yellowstone, that would be a rare occurrence, especially if you drive early evening or morning. We again saw numerous bison crossing the road and alongside it but the highlight was a coyote hunting for its evening meal.
Hayden Valley is the spot where you can always find some wildlife, mainly bison it's true. But during the 3/4 times we passed through the valley, at one point or another we also saw coyotes, 1 wolf and a small herd of elk besides the bison, of which there are literally hundreds. Be very careful of these monsters as they are lethal, causing more deaths and injuries to people than bears. People have a tendency to get close as they seem so docile, But can you outrun 2 tons of buffalo meat launched at 40 odd kph ?? I've managed to get close using a 200 mm lens so do likewise if you want close-up photos. Didn't get close enough for the other animals though.
Hayden Valley is a great place for wildlife spotting, especially at dawn and dusk. But also during the day, if you come across a crowd of people at one particular turnout point, it's often well worth to stop and see what they're looking at, especially when they are all staring intently at the same spot!
One such crowd for example was waiting for a grizzly to return to a carcass that it had been feeding on on the far side of the river. So you may need some patience if you want to see something special. I had already got a good look at a grizzly from a much closer range in Grand Teton, and as I only had little time left in Yellowstone, and many other things that I wanted to see I decided to move on after a while.
I saw mainly buffalos in Hayden Valley, LOTS of buffalos!!
There were bison in Hayden Valley, but also ducks and geese, and these lucky birds could enjoy the warm waters of hot springs gushing out in the river or its shores. I really would have liked to join them, but, after a probable denunciation, I would have had some arguments with the rangers, so better not.
Look at the geese going to the warm waters. . .
The other pictures show them plunging their heads in water all at the same time, or just swimming in line; ah! Enjoy simple pictures nature offers us!
Hayden Valley is where the Yellowstone River becomes wide and where meadows cover the wide and broad valley, North of Fishing Bridge, on the road to Canyon Village; and . . . . the heart bumps suddenly in my chest: I see “my” first wild (euuh, not that wild at the end!) bison! Wild bison, the little boy is resurrecting in my deep me; I “see” Indians, I remember the books of my childhood, the dreams of wild west come back. One bison, no, a herd of bison, tens and tens of bison, believe it or not, tears were literally flowing on my cheeks, I sat down, and looking at the beasts for a long very long time I almost forgot to take photographs!
Bison are protected nowadays, their hunting is allowed only outside the Park during a limited period; they are peaceful animals by nature (ah, the few “incidents” happening with tourists from time to time are usually the fault of tourists who get too close during mating season, or harassing them), and the species got almost extinct after the “exploits” of William Cody better known as Buffalo Bill who organized hunting parties during which hundred of thousands of bison were killed just for fun! This “hero” has even a city named after him, in Wyoming. . . ! Vive l’Amérique! And the bison were a vital animal for Indian at the time: not only the basic food but also fur, leather, tools, etc were produced from bison, the herds of which the Indian managed at the time in a sort of a sustainable development style. . . . .
Those herds of bison in the valley were just wonderful!
The Dragon's Mouth is located at the Mud Volcano parking area, in Hayden Valley. Watch out for the bison walking around in the parking lot...
You would really have to hear this thing, and watch the smoke coming out, to understand why someone could get the idea that there is a dragon in there , roaring and blowing out smoke.
The Mud Volcano is large and stinky. This area in particular could make you think you might be on a different planet.
The Hayden Valley is one of the best places to see wildlife in the park it is a large, primarily unforested valley that the Yellowstone River flows through. The river is very gentile in the valley and you may not even notice in which direction it flows without close inspection.
The fishing in the river is among the best in the park. Mostly fly fisherman, wade out into the cold waters and cast away in the fields of grass. The animals watching them are not very afraid of people and go as they please.
Photographers frequent this area of the park to see Bison, Elk, Geese, Wolves, and wild Sheep among others. If you are entering the park from the West Yellowstone side you will go through this valley on your way to the rest of the park. People will be stopping and animals also may block the road so proceed with caution while driving.
Hayden Valley is a beautiful, open stretch of land that is a great spot to view wildlife. The rolling hills and winding Yellowstone river make it a lovely habitat for bison, elk and birds. You may even spot a bear or a coyote out here.
The valley used to be an arm of Yellowstone Lake. The ground is too marshy for tree growth, which is why it is so open.
Hayden Valley is on the east side of the park, and is a relatively flat area. In the Hayden Valley the Yellowstone river spreads into broad curving channels. The Valley is a very good spot to observe wildlife. And thats what I did....
Hayden Valley is located in the east part of the lower loop, just south of Canyon Village. In the Hayden Valley the Yellowstone river spreads into broad curving channels. With streams, valleys, plains, and trees, this valley is home to many animals. Bison, elk, antelope, black bear, and grizzlies can bee seen in their natural habitat. The best time for viewing wildlife is early morning and late evening. But on other times of the day you can expect to see a lot of wildlife as well.
It's not so scenic as Lamar Valley but still good to see wildlife. This elk was eating grass peacefully and did not care about thousands telephoto lenses pointed at itself.