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| p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Yellowstone is a Winter Wonderland...Various Critters, Landscapes |
My wife and I got back from a great week in Yellowstone. Boy is it a different park in the winter, and almost everything is better (except obviously the weather and light conditions). We stayed in Gardiner right outside the northeast entrance for a few days, and did a tour with the foundation looking around the Lamar valley area, focused on looking for wolves. We also did a couple of short snow shoe hikes which were fun. We saw lots of wolves, parts of three wolfpacks that hang in the area. One thing that became clear was that if you see wolves up close, either they made a kill close to the road or the wolf made a mistake. They really don't like humans. Our wolf sightings were all at long range, maybe as close as a few hundred yards, but mostly 1/2 to over a mile away. Lots of scopes, few cameras like mine. We had very little sun, so conditions were very difficult but I did the best I could do...high iso all the time basically. Lots of other critters around, tons of elk, bison, otters, bighorn/pronghorn sheep, coyotes and a few others. I was surprised at how many baldies we saw, they seem to actively hunt the rivers in and around the park during the winter since they don't freeze.
After hanging around the north, we went south to the Old Faithful area. Roads aren't plowed so the only way down is via snowcoach, which is a fun way to go. Amazing difference down here, with only one hotel open, there are hardly any people. We watched OF erupt with literally six other people. Again, lots of critters down here. We saw new wolf prints and heard howling, but didn't see any wolves during this part of the trip. Lots of other critters though. We went out to the frozen lake (coldest day), and also did a gorgeous day of cross country skiing in the Yellowstone canyon area. Tons of really soft fluffy snow here.
So I'm posting a few pics from the trip here, with the caveat that the lighting and distance didn't make for nat geo quality images. Hope you guys/gals understand, you take what you are given in terms of conditions. It was a terrific trip, we are already talking about going back next winter. Highly recommended as long as you don't mind the cold and are there to experience the park as it presents itself, which might not be perfect for photos.
Bald eagle, shot taken from our hotel room...literally. He came hauling up the river, and stopped on this tree late in the day. He then strafed some river otters and took off down the river.
River otter family. After getting strafed by the eagle, they decided to swim upstream and got pretty close to our hotel. Just a lucky break to see them playing/fishing.
Successful fishing expedition...trout for dinner. Either cutthroat or rainbow, not sure which.
Pair of coyotes, one of whom literally wanted to fool around...I guess it didn't go over so well.
Not what the Old Faithful lodge area looks like in the summer! Only a couple of skiers around. We watched the eruption with six other people...
Yellowstone canyon...we skied along the ridge, pretty spectacular even with the clouds..
Stream in the woods, along our ski route...
Yellowstone winter traffic jam...
Bighorn sheep...we saw several of these in the northern part of the park
Sunrise over Yellowstone...
Grouse, well camouflaged....
I'm only posting two wolf pics..although I have tons....This is the Prospect peak wolfpack hauling across the valley. They were pretty far away, more than 1/2 mile.
Last one...Black wolf in Lamar valley...