Part two of our summer adventure took us back north from Grand Teton into Yellowstone National Park. Summertime is the busiest time in these two parks because much of the year there is snow. This is where it is nice to have our little Scamp Birdie, we were able to stay at the Fishing Bridge RV Park which is right in the middle of the park making it easier to get to all the different sites. Yellowstone is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined so while being central is ideal, it still took over an hour to get to some popular spots! Although crowded in summer most of the parks traffic is considered ‘drive through’ traffic, people either staying in Jackson Hole or some of the towns outside the park like West Yellowstone or Gardiner. Camping in the park or staying at one of the lodges gives you more time to beat the crowds, early in the morning and late in the evenings the drive through tourists have moved on and this also happens to be the best time to see the animals, they like to come out closer to dawn or dusk and avoid the mid-day heat. Except the Bison, they were everywhere all the time!
So many things to see in Yellowstone and it is all just stunning! Driving through Yellowstone is truly something you have to do if you’ve never seen it, so much open empty land for animals to roam, with no sign of people other than the national park areas. I enjoyed just taking a slow drive and swinging off the road at the many pullouts that are available looking for birds or animals in the distance. The more popular spots are worth checking out, we saw Lamar Valley, Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. My favorite spots may have been the valleys, the Lamar Valley and closer to our campground the Hayden Valley were incredible. Vast expanses of grass for the Bison to roam, winding rivers down the center loaded with birds. Some people just parked in a pullout, pulled out a folding chair and sat and watched the wild life go by, waiting for sunset. Not a bad idea!
Our one hike was to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, and then on to Fairy Falls. Not a long hike but we started around 11am and it was quite hot, pools of steaming water from the geothermal activity did not cool you down! My eight year old son did not want to continue past the spring, he was not happy about continuing to the falls, complaining almost every step of the way. However once we arrived at the spectacular Fairy Falls, he dipped his head in the cool stream flowing from the base of the falls, and was delighted with all the chunky little Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels. They were all over the base of the falls, I’m pretty sure because there were daily visits from folks like us dropping crumbs from our lunch on the ground. My son was so happy that when we started our walk back, he complained that he wanted to stay at the falls.
While we were only there for three days we did manage to get some good wild life photos – our first sighting of an American Dipper, just hanging out on a rock near the LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River. As mentioned, we saw many, many bison, also a coyote, and one massive bull Elk. We hoped to see a bear, maybe not see one on a long hike with our 8 and 11 year old children, but maybe just spot one from the car, but no luck. We did however see a badger! Not something we were expecting but glad we were able to photograph it. It seemed to be running back and forth digging in holes, I’m guessing looking for ground squirrel snacks
You’ll also see in the gallery an American Kestrel and some American Avocet. The Avocet was not one we expected to see, apparently they come north during migration to Yellowstone, they are shore birds with interesting long upturned bills. They have long legs and were spotted in the steaming flats near the Grand Prismatic Spring. Enjoy the photos!
Things to Note:
- Yellowstone National Park sits between 7,000 and 10,000 feet or 2,100 and 3,000 meters for those of you metrically inclined. Take the lack of oxygen at this elevation into account when planning your hikes. I boiled water to cook some ramen noodles for my son and realized it was taking a much longer time to cook, I normally ignore the info on the side of packages that give you cooking instructions for elevation, but was forced to re-educate myself on this interesting phenomenon. So the boiling point in our campground was about 198 F or 92 C, which is actually the perfect temp for making coffee!
- Please check out the Kingsyard banner above and give it click. They sell some really cool bird feeders and bird houses that you’ll want to check out!
- Most of these shots were taken with the Sony a7 along with the Sony FE 200-600mm lens.