Thursday, January 31, 2013
Yellowstone National Park, WY | Part 1
I'm so excited to start sharing Yellowstone!
We drove into the park from the North entrance after finishing our drive through Beartooth Highway. We arrived late in the day, near dusk (there wasn't even anyone at the entrance gate to check our pass). After driving a while through the woods we started to see more open fields and a lot of wildlife out for their evening feedings. Watching the wildlife roam against the setting sun was pretty special.
We were short on daylight with a lot to see (and a three hour drive to the cabin where we were sleeping) so, instead of stopping to set up the tripod for photos, we tried to slow down enough to photograph the animals whenever we passed by them. This strategy proved difficult since both we and the animals were in constant motion. It didn't help that the park rangers heavily patrol the roads to ensure the cars don't stops traffic (except if wildlife are crossing), meaning if there's no shoulder or pull out area, then you have no choice but to keep driving.
We learned quickly that we were doing it all wrong. We started noticing herds of people were lined up on the roadsides, seemingly for hours, with giant (I mean HUGE) camera lenses, binoculars, and tripods. They had staked out their spots and were ready to capture the wildlife as it passed by them. On our next trip to the park we will be sure to plan plenty of time to photograph the animals!
The buffalo seemed to rule the park - they cross roads when they want and seemed to often stop traffic. We were stopped by a herd of buffalo near 10 at night as we were driving to our cabin. It was a nerve-wracking encounter, as the buffalo were circling the car and seemed to be protecting something. This went on for a while and traffic was stopped in both directions. Finally, the buffalo decided to cross the road and, as they started to clear out, we could see that some mama buffalo had been nursing their baby buffalo, right in the middle of the road. The male buffalo were circling the cars to keep them from driving forward, in order to protect the mama and babies. So sweet!
The wildlife we saw: buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, a black bear with its cub, and a wolf. Our next trip to this park will be when we have kids - talk about an exciting vacation for children!