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    Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone map

Geysers Canyon Rapids
Geothermal activity in the main geyser basin Yellowstone Canyon LeHardy's Rapids

Lake

Mammoth

Yellowstone Lake - West arm

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Despite the number of visitors we encountered, themagnificence of this park dwarfs the human content. The entrance fee is only $25 per car for a 7 day pass, and as usual for this country, the size of the park is much larger than you would imagine. Covering only the South loop took us all day, and much of this was to take in the range of geysers and geothermal array of features that are a must when visiting here. After a very chilly arrival, with the sleet hitting the car windscreen in temperatures as low as 38C, the next day demonstrated the variation in weather systems here with highs of almost 70C, and unbroken clear skies. Driving is deliberately and thankfully slow, with top speeds allowed of 45mph, and this certainly lends itself to much greater scrutiny of passing wildlife. Examples were early Coyote and Western Tanager during our first few miles on the first day.

Not only are the geysers and lookouts worth seeing in themselves, they can also turn up birds. Waiting for Grand Geyser and Old Faithful to erupt in sequence, we found Mountain Bluebird, White-crowned & Chipping Sparrows, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Pine Siskin on the walkways between. Midway Geyser Basin had a successful fishing Osprey on the river next to it. One of the best areas was the base of the Yellowstone River, where it joined the Lake. Small numbers of Lesser Scaup had been seen on the shoreline, and a single Bald Eagle flew over Fisherman's Bridge, with a group of 22 Barrow's Goldeneye on the West Thumb. More Barrow's Goldeneye were on the river itself with a drake American Wigeon nearby. The LeHardy’s Rapids were interesting in their own right, but the group of 4 male Harlequin Ducks playing on the torrent were even more captivating.

The river followed along the Hayden Valley, which lived up to its reputation as a good spot for American Bison. The river and banks held copious Canada Geese, but amongst them was a group of 4 Goosanders, and White Pelican a little further up. Perhaps the most astonishing find was a Mountain Goat "jam", where a group of cars had pinpointed a lone Mountain Goat lying down on the upper almost vertical slopes above one of the smaller rivers early evening. Even leaving the park, on the road to the West exit, is worth vigilance - we saw a perched Bald Eagle and Osprey at the same spot at 7pm.

American Wigeon Barrow's Goldeneye Brown-headed Cowbird
American Wigeon Barrow's Goldeneye Brown-headed Cowbird
Harlequin Duck Lesser Scaup Osprey
Harlequin Duck Lesser Scaup Osprey
Pine Siskin Tree Swallow Bald Eagle
Pine Siskin Tree Swallow Bald Eagle

The North Loop, which also incorporates Lamar Valley, is reputed to be the best spot for wildlife viewing. We followed the road from Madison , stopping off at a couple of spots on the way and picking off Chipping & White-crowned Sparrows, Mountain Bluebird and a trio of male Elk on the way to Norris. We took the road North to Mammoth Hot Springs, where we passed a couple of Sandhill Cranes in a meadow, before spending some time on the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Not only do these offer yet another form of geo-thermal wonder, but also held a pair of Mountain Bluebirds and Western Tanagers.

The Blacktail Plateau Drive was a gem for Black Bears. We were caught up in a bear jam for some time, spending up to half an hour watching a mother Black Bear with its 1 month old offspring down below. A huge male Moose was also in this small valley, with a Red-tailed Hawk flying in. On the way back along this road, a youngish lone Black Bear had been found, and we started off our own bear jam when we located a mother and almost full grown cub. Overhead, another Red-tailed Hawk was wheeling, with a Brewer’s Sparrow singing opposite a pond holding 5 Ruddy Duck. The coniferous forests along Black Plateau Drive hold Dusky Grouse, as witnessed by a female sat on the road one mid morning. A female Belted Kingfisher was watching over the river flowing down from Mammoth to the North Entrance to the park.

Red-tailed Hawk Western Tanager White-crowned Sparrow
Red-tailed Hawk Western Tanager White-crowned Sparrow
Black Bear Elk Moose
Black Bear Elk Moose

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Rockies

Dakota

Yellowstone

Wolves

Tetons

Species list

Text only