Today’s Yellowstone adventures took us well beyond Old Faithful and the thermal features that marked our first day in the park. Today we set out in search of wildlife and waterfalls and found so much more.
Geoff loves bears…and has his heart set on seeing a bear in the park, so we headed toward the northwest entrance and the Lamar Valley where folks at the Yellowstone Association recommended for possible wildlife viewing. And while we didn’t see bears, we did see some other wildlife.
We followed a road we didn’t travel yesterday, and not far into our drive Geoff saw this amazing bird of prey. He quickly turned the car around and passed by it again…as it sat and posed while I took its photo through the open car window. A bit of research has us believing it is a golden eagle.
After such a great beginning we were optimistic as we headed off the beaten path and followed a dirt road for 6 miles in search of other animals. We saw beautiful meadows and listened to the songs of birds as we drove the bumpy, dusty path at about 10 miles per hour with the windows open…but nothing beyond birds and squirrels showed themselves. As we headed into the Lamar Valley we were feeling much less optimistic when we noticed cars pulling off the side of the road. In Yellowstone, that is a signal that someone has spotted something of interest. And sure enough, there were buffalo…a lot of them in the distance. Over a stretch of about 10 miles we saw several herds and some big bull buffalo right up close to the edge of road. We watched them wallow in the mud and listened to them grunt. The calves frolicked as the adults ate and rested. This guy was pretty uninterested in the traffic, people with cameras, and even noisy motorcycles going by. And he made a great photo opportunity for me. If you look closely, you can see the rest of the herd in the distance.
Later in the day, with the help of a photographer with a huge telescopic lens, we located an osprey in a nest with chicks out on a rock formation in the canyon. If you know what you are looking for, it is barely visible in this shot. Geoff was able to get a shot where you can see the birds using a camera with a more powerful zoom than my iPhone.
In addition to wildlife, we also saw amazing waterfalls and canyons today…and spent some time at over 8800 feet! There is still evidence of the devastation of wildfires in some areas, but there are also spectacular forests and green meadows. Here’s a view across the meadow at well over 8800 feet.
I was surprised to learn that Yellowstone has its own version of the Grand Canyon. As we headed out to Artist Point, we saw both the spectacular Canyon Falls and canyon views to take your breath away! I was lucky and glimpsed a raptor in flight, catching the dark wings and white head. I think it may have been an osprey in flight. Catching the just right light to bring the colors to life in a photograph is challenging, but I think this one begins to catch the beauty. This particular spot makes it clear why the park is called Yellowstone.
And a little unexpected treat…way up high on an overlook above Canyon Falls a couple asked me to take their photo. And after I did and handed them back their camera, as I was about to walk away without taking a photo of my own…I was feeling uncomfortable way up high and feeling like I had taken photo after photo of these falls, I noticed a rainbow!
These few pictures are only a scratch on the surface of today’s adventures. It was another day filled with the unexpected and the wonder, beauty and majesty of our natural world. We have another adventure planned for tomorrow…what more will we find in this amazing place?