Lamar and Hayden Valleys

July 2, 2017 - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States, Wyoming, United States

We were enjoying our breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and frozen potatoes (still trying to regulate our refrigerator) this morning when Bill remarked that he could hear a ranger on horseback in the campground or at least on the road just outside the campground.  It occurred to us later that sound of the hooves was not the clippity-clop of horses’ hooves but more so the clop-clop-clop of bison.  I wish I had gotten out of my seat to take a look!  It’s still been pretty chilly at night but once we get moving we warm up.Thermal Feature

We drove down into the Hayden Valley and stopped at the Mud Volcano area.  I remembered the Dragon’s Mouth Spring and it was still as impressive as ever.  We continued down into Hayden Valley as far as the Fishing Bridge.  I’d hoped we’d run into that large herd of elk again, but no such luck.  Coming back north through Hayden we pulled over to watch the most beautiful golden eagle I’ve ever seen circle and glide along the thermals.  When the sun illuminated the eagle it was evident why the name “golden” was applied.  Advice:  Don’t forget to look up!Fish Bridge

 

By 12:30 p.m. we decided to check out the Lamar Valley for wildlife or whatever.  We drove past groups of pronghorns and pulled into the spur road for Slough Creek Campground.  We set up our camp chairs and settled in to watch what appeared to be a large storm approaching the valley.  I also made a quick call to Mom at Crestwood just to share the moment and to let her know we were still kicking.  We usually had no signal in our area of the park.  It wasn’t long before the rain began to fall.  We continued on past more pronghorns in the area of Soda Butte Creek and then on toward Silver Gate, Montana.  We didn’t quite get to Silver Gate but we did check out the three main peaks of the mountain range to the south; Mount Norris, The Thunderer, and Albiather Peak; all of which were 10,000 or nearly 10,000 feet high.  We estimated that we saw well over 1,000 buffalo along this stretch of road.  On the way out of Lamar Valley and after a brief rain, I took an amazing picture of a buffalo who posed as regally as a buffalo can. Incredible Buffalo picture

 

This had clearly turned into a scenic drive day and I thought we should check out Blacktail Plateau Drive; until I realized it was one way down yet another gravel road.  We decided to drive a short way further and turn around.  About that time, the heavens seemed to literally open up and dump buckets of rain and sleet all around us.  I felt badly for motorcyclists we saw trying to get on their rain gear.  Seemed a bit late to me.  In fact, we’ve seen many middle- to older-aged bikers in the park and it has been damn cold.  I wouldn’t want to be on their adventure.

 

After dinner of cowboy beans we drove back to the Hayden Valley, still trying to find some elusive bull elk.  We did pull over for a large herd of cow and calf elk far over on an island east of the road, but still visible.  It was entertaining to watch the young ones chase each other around and splash about in the water just like our own kids did.  There was an older gentleman at this pull out who has been watching a female wolf and her kits from the same location.  He said she often came out in the evening to hunt and would then take food back to feed her young.  With as many folks out and about making racket it was not likely she’d show up tonight.  At one point I walked a little closer to see the herd across the water on the island.  As I stood there, a guy next to me with a European accent made the comment that it would be a lot nicer without all the tourists.  I quickly replied, “No kidding!  Like us.”  He looked surprised and then added, “I never thought of it that way.”  I have to keep reminding myself.Rainbow Burst

 

Eventually, several bull elk worked their way closer to the pull off on the opposite side of the road.  Bill parked the RAV4 so we could sit and watch comfortably.  I have also been known to stand up through the sunroof during such occasions.  There was a hard-core group that was patiently watching for close to an hour as the elk inched their way closer and closer.  All of a sudden, a group of tourists hopped out of their car and started walking toward the elk to take “selfies”.  I couldn’t believe it!  A man eventually chased after them; pointing out everyone else who’d been watching.  The first guy in the group was hard to convince not to proceed farther.  Either way, he’d managed to dissuade the elk from coming any closer.  We found this to be a common characteristic with this group all throughout Yellowstone. They seemed to have the best cameras but the most distracting and aggressive photo-taking techniques.A beautiful dusk with elk in the distance


Pictures

Thermal Feature
Fish Bridge
Random Thermal Feature
Incredible Buffalo picture
 
 

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