Yellowstone Redux

We really enjoyed our 10-day visit to Yellowstone National Park in May so we felt doubly blessed and privileged to be able to spend an additional three weeks in the park in September/October.  It wasn’t the original plan. That was for eight days. Time we had gleaned from shortening our trips to Missoula and Glacier National Park. However, Mr. Misadventures was like a kid in a candy store and it was hard to resist an extension, even if it meant we would pay the price with longer Red Bay delays.

I mean, when will we get the opportunity to spend three weeks straight again? (Answer: a long time!)

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Come on, you know you want to visit me… Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

In May there were a lot of bear and bison to be seen, eating after a long winter was a priority, that and showing the new babies how it’s done. In September there were a ton more elk around, the males with huge antlers for mating season.  We also saw a lot more migratory birds than in the spring.

There were more open roads allowing us to get to spots that had been closed in May.  We did close to 7000 miles in the park in the three weeks we were there, it is huge!  Now that we have been there for spring and fall, there are two more trips we want to do in the future: winter and back country.  But for now I wanted to share highlights from our trip.

It was so enjoyable to see drive along the Madison and Yellowstone rivers in the early morning and evening and see the fly fishermen.  Each time I saw them it reminded me of A River Runs Through It.

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Fly fishing on the Madison River. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

We tried several sunrise shots but the weather did not cooperate, fog was persistent and we couldn’t always guess where it would be.  Me not being the photographer in the family I can tell you that some mornings I was a bit grumpy after getting up at 4:30 and sitting out (or in the car) in zero degree weather only to be thwarted by the fog!  However, Mr. Misadventures did end up with three shots, one from Nymph Lake, one at the Madison River and a session from the Nez Perce Creek (also here and here).

Thus our main activity became wildlife viewing.  We still did early mornings, just not sunrise early. Between very good binoculars, a very good camera and the naked eye we got to see a wonderful variety of animals. It’s the best thing we’ve done all year.

And despite not going off-road we were able to see a lot.

This little guy was none to happy to have his breakfast interrupted when Mr. Misadventures visited his tree to relieve himself.  We found out later there is a $400 fine for doing that, oops!  The hubby heard this squirrel chirping at him, told him to stay put and ran back to the car to get his camera so that he could capture him. Guess what? He stayed!

I’m a pretty good spotter and one of my first spots, and my greatest in my opinion, was this amazing owl called a Great Gray.  Isn’t it a beauty?!

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Great Gray Owl. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

A few days later, Mr. Misadventures went off in the woods for a couple of hours with a hunter he met from Minnesota and captured this gorgeous Great Horned Owl.

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Great Horned Owl. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

It was the only two owls we saw during our time in Yellowstone, but it was a terrific opening act.  Along the lines of rare sightings, we saw this coyote hunting mice in one of the meadows.  We had briefly seen coyotes two other times, but only for a split second. This guy gave us a show.  He was catching mice at a rate of one per minute and it was so fun to watch him hunt, pounce and swallow whole!

As I mentioned, we saw a lot more elk in September than we had in May, (although still not as many as we say in Grant Teton) and we spent many mornings in various spots watching the dominant males gather their herds and preen.

Their call is pretty crazy, like a new bugle (or maybe a clarinet) student trying to do scales, and it’s loud!  (Listen to it here!)

For Mr. Misadventures it’s all about the bears, his favorite animal.  And we had plenty of sightings! At this time of year, the black bears are focused on getting every last pine nut off the cones in the trees and on the ground.  We visited a favored spot almost every day and almost every day were rewarded with a mama and her two cubs foraging away undeterred by the dozens of people who were watching them.

This is our least favorite way to watch the bears, but bear jams are a reality in Yellowstone you can’t get around.  We were just thankful for the few times that we could spot them alone without anyone else around.  Nonetheless, the trio of black bears certainly entertained.  At one point one of the cubs got himself into a crook in a tree and couldn’t quite seem to figure out how to get down, so he stayed there for awhile just watching the world.

While mom checked out the ground game!  She wasn’t the least bit concerned about her cub getting down!

We didn’t see any grizzly bears until our last two days in the park. We watched a very large male forage for tubers in a meadow, but he wouldn’t cooperate when it came to photos, Mr. Misadventures wanted to venture closer, but there wasn’t a real practical way to do that without disturbing the bear, and we are super sensitive to being respectful of the fact that we are in these animals’ home, not the other way around.

Our very last night in Yellowstone we got to see a huge mother grizzly and her two cubs.  I think grizzly cubs are adorable, so fluffy looking.  I got a great view in our binoculars, but it was a little too far out of range for a good photo.

The hubby loves his bear, I love the bison. I can’t get enough of them, which is no problem because they are everywhere!  I never tired of watching a single bison or an entire herd and I’d love to see them in the winter with a layer of snow in their beards!

Depending on where you are, you can get stuck as they cross the road, always taking their sweet time and sometimes crossing multiple times!  We got stuck behind a group one morning moving from the warmth of the geyers where they had spent the evening to the grassy meadows to feed.

During the early afternoon we often played tourist visiting the geyser areas.  We still didn’t do Old Faithful, I abhor crowds and it is just a mess down there. Finding parking, seating, etc.  We drove over once and then abandoned the endeavor.  There are geyser eruptions all over the park and we were able to catch the Great Fountain Geyser right at sunset.  We were lucky, it erupts once every 9 to 15 hours and we made it just in time!

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Great Fountain Geyser. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

Per our usual modus operandi we did a lot of earlier mornings, but because of a new moon, there was also an opportunity to take some star shots, so we had several nights out in various spots trying to capture the Milky Way.  Mr. Misadventures wasn’t super happy with how they turned out, but I like them!

This was an evening at the West Thumb Geyser Basin looking over Yellowstone Lake.  I was pretty nervous because I was afraid we would have visiting bears while we were out there by ourselves, but between talking and playing music we were fine.  We just had to battle the headlights of cars driving around the lake.

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Stars over the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

We did an evening near Mt. Washburn, the highest peak in the park, but just couldn’t get a shot that the hubby was happy with.  And then we also did the sky above the Madison River.

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It was a magical three weeks in Yellowstone National Park and while I don’t think we’ll get as much time on the next visit, we are hoping that next visit is soon!

How about you? Have you visited Yellowstone before? Is it on your bucket list? If you have visited, what was your favorite part?

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About Andi Fisher

I'm a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. I love to travel via my stomach eating and seeking out local artisans to feature here. I'm a big supporter of the blogging community and love highlighting travel and food bloggers for you to meet.

Comments

  1. we were near the tetons this summer but wish we hit Yellowstone too. We were worried about the crowds.

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Maria, yes they are supposed to be awful in the summer! Grand Teton is amazing as well! How were the crowds there?

  2. CourtneyLynne says:

    Omg so many awesome photos!!!! It’s been a few years since I’ve been to yellow stone! Yo make me want to go back!

  3. We were in Yellowstone in August, and just love it there! I would love to go during the off season some time when there aren’t as many people. It’s a very busy place! Your photos are gorgeous!

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Ginny, thank you for the compliment on the photos! July and August are tough with the crowds. I can tell you there was still plenty of people in early May and late September, but I imagine it’s nothing like summer. That’s why I want to go in February as well!

  4. Yellowstone is on my bucket list for sure. Those images are just so amazing- I can’t even believe all of this life and view are in one place!

  5. Wow this reminds me of why visiting Yellostone is on my bucket list. What a stunning place to visit.

  6. It is on my bucket list! I want to go this summer, but trying to decide if I want to wait until my son is a few older. It looks so dreamy.

  7. Marianne T says:

    These photos are breathtakingly beautiful! I would love to visit Yellowstone one day. It seems like such an amazing place to visit.

  8. What amazing shots, yet again! The night shots are stunning, but I think the fly fishing in the fog (say that 3 times fast) is my favorite. It captures my favorite morning mood.

  9. Yellowstone has always amazed me. I would love to visit there someday, I had no idea the number of wild animals there. Your photos are breathtaking.

  10. Beautiful photos. This is definitely on my bucket list.

  11. The up close shot of the bear is my favorite photo. I have never been to Yellowstone but it is going on my bucket list right now.

  12. Your photos are stunning. Wow! I have always wanted to go to Yellowstone Park but now I want to go more than ever.

  13. aziel morte says:

    These are all a great photo! It makes me on my good mood. Glad you share this

  14. That fly-fishing photo could win a Nat Geo contest! Didn’t realize you guys had gone back a second time; assumed all your photos you were posting were from earlier this year!

    What long lens does he use for wildlife shots?

  15. SO amazing.–the photos, the animals, and the fact that you got to spend 3 weeks there. Your husband got some incredible shots! You’re making me want to plan that road trip to Yellowstone sooner rather than later.

  16. Calvin F. says:

    This is awesome, I remember being to yellowstone once.

  17. kathy downey says:

    Wow,the photos are totally amazing!

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