I skipped work on Friday and headed to Yellowstone in the morning. The West Entrance to the Park opened up last weekend which meant I didnít have to drive all the way to Bozeman and Livingston and then down to Gardiner just to get into the Park. I always try to get to the Park in the spring before it gets too crowded. The temperatures are still cool which tends to bring the wildlife out.
I spent an hour or so photographing this beautiful sow and her two year old cub along the Gibon River. I love the markings on these bears. Itís not unlike grizzly bears to have silvery or light areas of fur but Iíve never seen markings quite like this mom and cub had. They spent most of the time digging and turning over rocks looking for insects and whatever else bears eat that they find under rocks.
The Mammoth Hot Springs campground was full when I arrived. Itís the only time Iíve seen it full this early in the spring. I headed into Gardiner and found a small RV park on the North end of town, along the Yellowstone River. It was only $4 more than the campground but it had electrical and showers. I didnít need either but as long as they were available, I took advantage.
Woke up to a little rain in town but as I climbed the 5 miles to Mammoth it turned into snow. I headed East to Tower Junction and out the Lamar Valley. Lots of bison and elk and got to watch a black wolf cross the river and head up the hill to an old kill. I spent the day exploring and watching wildlife.
I went as far East as Barronette Peak and then turned around. Most of the North end of the Park had about an inch or so of snow. The picture below is Barronette Peak with the top half covered in fog. You can often see mountain goats on the rocky face of the mountain.
I stopped at Mammoth on the way back to town for a walk around the terraces to stretch my legs. When I got back from the walk I met GrumpyBadger who had parked next to me. He has a 2014 SMB. Nice rig with a walkthrough design.
The next morning it was raining again in town but turned to snow at Mammoth. It snowed more this day than on Saturday. Before heading south I found this fox hunting for his lunch. I watched him unsuccessfully try and pounce on a mouse under the snow but most of the time he would just wander and listen for any movement or sound. Finally he gave up and stretched and then flattened himself out on the snow.
As I headed toward home I was hoping the two grizzly bears would be hanging out along the Gibon River where I saw them on Friday. As luck would have it they were in the same area. I spent 3 Ĺ hours photographing the bears and having a little lunch. Nothing much going on except digging and turning over rocks. It was fun watching them but I was hoping for something more interesting. Then, in the last half hour, the little guy started getting tired. I got to witness Momma nursing:
And the cub playing and walking on logs and doing anything he could find to do except dig for bugs. Then he got tired and plopped down for some needed rest.
Itís always good to get to the Park in the spring and see what wildlife is out and about. I havenít had the SMB out since January on a trip to the Tetons so it was great to spend a couple of days exploring.