We Explore The Park So You Don't Have To

August 23, 2013

Bison Rut

The month of August is when the bison bulls start feeling a little frisky.
They head out into the herd, looking for the cutest cow(s)
and start “wallowing.”

– rolling around in the dirt –
is how they show off their strength and vigor.

There are other ways the bull shows off…
bellowing, belching, pawing the ground.
He will definitely fight for his gal, and these massive, hulkish beasts
can be seen fighting other bulls for the right to mate with the females in the herd.

It’s an amazing sight!!

(Click on a photo to enlarge it!)



June 21, 2012

My Favorite Place



By Scooter, Age 9

Spray, spray went the sound of water landing on hard rock. My favorite place is Yellowstone. When I go through the gate I see beautiful scenery on the other side. I also see a glistening river. The trees are green and rustling in the wind.

In Yellowstone I smell and feel the poky pine trees. I can feel the steam of the geyser steam. I smell sulfur of the geysers. I smell the wonderful dirt. I feel the squishy grond (sic).

I hear in Yellowstone the sound of a river running. I heard the beautiful chirp of birds. I can hear the sound of the wind blowing. The geysers bubbling. The sound of bubbling water hitting hard rock.

Every time we go to Yellowstone it is an exciting and tiring day. When we leave it is very sad. I like to do the mile long hikes. We always have a  blast. Yellowstone is my favorite place.


Photomerge A

Scooter @ Old Faithful:
Yep! He LOVES our Park!DSC_0409

October 11, 2011

It’s The End

The end of YNP’s summer season, that is.

When visiting YNP after Labor Day you have to be prepared for any kind of weather.
There is plenty of sunshine and lots of warm days, but
Mother Nature is fickle and will change everything on a whim.

When we travel to YNP in the autumn, we dress in layers and carry bags full of
clothing changes.
Coats, sweatshirts, long sleeves, short sleeves.
Boots, tennis shoes, sandals.
And socks.
Lots and lots of socks.
The chances that your feet will get wet and you’ll need a fresh pair of dry socks
is extremely high.

You can’t forget hats and gloves.
Your ears and fingertips will surely get cold.

We recently had a fall trip with a beautiful family from Ecuador.
It was their first visit to YNP and I was happy to be there and experience it
alongside them.

The colorful leaves were still on the trees.
The grasses, which remained green for such a long time this summer
(due to the wet spring)
had finally turned a beautiful golden color.

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And the weather….
oh, the weather.
A week before our visit, YNP had been basking in the throes of a
beautiful Indian Summer:
Temperatures were hovering in the mid 70’s, and sometimes even reaching
lower 80’s.

But, as luck would have it, the temps wouldn’t stay mild for my warm bodied friends
from South America.
These wonderful people who live on the Equator --
where the coldest it gets is around 40°--
got to see YNP as Winter started wrapping her icy fingers
around The Park.

All day the temperatures hovered in the mid 30’s.
It dipped down to 32° and got as high as 36°.
Thankfully, the wind didn’t blow.
But the heavens opened and threw lots of precipitation at us!

We experienced it all:
Pouring Rain
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Freezing Rain
Fluffy Snow
”Popcorn” Snow
Our poor friends were FREEZING!!

Yet, who could resist picking up a chunk of snow,
packing it into a ball (or tower)
and throwing it at someone?

A snowball fight is the universal language of

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I think we found, that no matter what the weather conditions are…
warm, mild, cold or freezing…
there is nothing more beautiful than

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We got lucky, and while watching these beautiful elk,
heard the bull calling for them.
While we were enjoying the goose-bump producing bugle from the male, one of these females suddenly turned toward the forest and answered with her own call and ran into the trees.
What a wonderful experience!
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This was taken along the Madison.
A peaceful scene with the bull elk sitting contentedly among his harem.

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Sedge Bay

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Arguably one of the prettiest spots in The Park is Sedge Bay, located at the base of
Sylvan Pass on the eastern side of YNP.
Sedge Bay is open to all the weather elements, but mainly the wind, the sun, wind and more wind.
It’s a great place to stop and dip your toes into the chilly water of Yellowstone Lake.
You can search the rocky beach for flat rocks, and if the water is calm enough, have a rock skipping competition with your friends!
If you’re lucky, you might see some otters playing in the water!
Or catch a glimpse of Canadian Geese dipping their long necks the shallow spots in search
of food and sustenance.

Across the road, you might see a bison or two.
I’ve even seen grizzly bear in this area.
As a matter of fact, a lot of the hikes on this northern shore of Yellowstone Lake
are closed to hikers, due to grizzly bear activity.

The clouds and views are amazing.
And such a great place to sit, meditate and ponder the beauty
that is

My son agrees!DSC_0339 copyright

August 31, 2011

Canyon With a View

The Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 2011

Two Hikes, Two Bridges

(More like one HIKE and one WALK.)

Ahhh…. hiking in the summer in YNP. It can be gorgeous. It can be exhausting. It can be hot and dusty. It can be crowded. But if you’re lucky, you can find THE ONE hike that very few people are taking and you can enjoy the peace and solitude that we go to The Park for.

The hike we went on last weekend was all of the above, except crowded. Yes, there were a few people on the trail, but it wasn’t a constant stream and for the most part they were friendly and engaging and even polite. We even stopped and chatted with a few groups and shared a couple laughs!

The first hike was to the Suspension Bridge at Hellroaring Creek. When I say it’s only 2 mi RT, don’t be deceived into thinking it’s an easy breezy hike. The guide book says it’s “moderately strenuous.” It’s not 100% strenuous because the first half is pretty easy. It’s all down hill.

Straight down, to be exact.

It goes down… all the way to the bottom.

No ups. All down.


Except you have to go UP all the way back to your car.

Straight up, to be exact.

It goes way up… all the way to the top.

No downs. All up.

This isn’t a great picture. It’s hard to show the grade in a photograph. But you can see where we started and see the river waaay down below. That’s close to where we ended. You can also see how much shade was on the trail. Yes, very little.

Hellroaring Creek 2011

This is one of the switchbacks. It is a fair representation of the steepness of the trail. The trees at the top of the photo are close to the parking lot.

Suspension Bridge Trail 2011

Thank heavens there were switchbacks! Judging from our experience and the other people we saw on the trail – 90% of whom were older than 50 – if there weren’t switchbacks and we had to climb straight up that hill, The Park would have to have a helicopter landing pad somewhere to haul us all out of there. As it was, we stopped on almost every corner to catch our breath and take a drink of water. On Saturday, the outside temps were a roasting 88°, with a slight breeze and heat exhaustion was a concern.

Once we arrived at the Suspension Bridge, however, we found it was worth the hike. This bridge isn’t wooden or rickety, like anything you’d find in an adventure movie (Think Indiana Jones). It’s 100% solid and safe.

It does sway just a bit and bounce as people walk over it, but I felt that it was safe enough to walk over. And I’m extremely afraid of heights!!

Calvin Adam Suspension Bridge 2011

Suspension Bridge 2011

The creek below was beautiful and still running very full of run-off from the snows in the mountains. It lived up to its name of Hellroaring!

We spent some time hanging around the bridge, climbing on the rocks and enjoying the view. After all, if you’re going to expend so much time and energy getting some place, shouldn’t you enjoy some leisure time there?

The trail doesn’t end at the bridge. It continues onward and is about a 10 mi trail, but we only intended to see the bridge, so after cooling off, and enjoying the views we headed back UP to the car.

I’m happy to report that everyone survived and I’d even consider hiking this trail again! But probably in the fall when the temps are on the more mild side.


The second hike was one we took the first part of August. This was a hike that Shackie and I took together with our kids. It was much easier but we still enjoyed a beautiful part of YNP that we hadn’t visited before.

This hike to Natural Bridge was more of a leisurely stroll walk through the forest. The trail was wide with only a gradual incline. We could walk side by side, which made it nice and easy for chatting with each other.


The view was gorgeous! The shade was plentiful and the mosquitoes were very welcoming as they feasted on our blood. Thank heavens we took lots of repellant.

Natural Bridge (a) 2011

Natural Bridge (b) 2011

Natural Bridge (c) 2011

There is a trail that allows you to hike up and behind the bridge, which gives you a whole different perspective.

There is bear activity in this area, so when I take my husband on this hike this fall, we’ll be sure to follow all the safety rules: make lots of noise (easy for us); hike in groups (again, easy); and carry bear spray (which we keep in the truck at all times now.)

August 18, 2011

Are You a Tourist or a Touron?

First of all, let’s talk about the definition of these two words:

tourist (toor-ist) — n
1. a. a person who travels for pleasure, usually sightseeing and staying in hotels
b. ( as modifier ): tourist attractions
2. a person on an excursion or sightseeing tour
3. a person who is polite and respectful and is in no way annoying

touron (toor-on) n.
tourist moron. : Another touron tried to take a bath in a hot spring this morning.

(I found this definition on dictionary.com and had to laugh because the definition was PERFECT for this blog post!)

Yellowstone is full of both kinds of people:

There are lots of people/visitors/tourists who are there to enjoy the beauty of the landscape; to relish in the splendor of the wildlife; and to sit in awe of the dazzling displays of the geyser basins. They prefer the quiet reflection that comes from sitting alongside a mountain stream with mountain bluebirds dancing in the skies above them and the long meadow grasses whispering softly in the breeze.

Then there’s the other group of people, the TOURONS, who think it’s fun to get up close to see if they can pet a bison; people who want to see if a bear’s teeth really are sharp; or who want to test the thickness of the crust around a geyser or a mud pot. They run about YNP in a frenetic pace, trying to do/see/experience everything the Park has to offer –in the short amount of time they are there – without thinking twice about how their actions may impact the landscape, the animals and the other people who are visiting.

Luckily the NPS and YNP have put lots of signs up to help guide the tourons in using proper YNP etiquette:

PLEASE don’t throw coins into the pools.
Your wishes won’t come true.
I promise.
But I do promise that your coins will destroy the geyser and
alter the landscape forever.

This poor Ranger in the West Thumb area had to rig a slotted spoon
to the end of a long extended handle
so he could fish pennies out of this cone.
I’m pretty sure tourists didn’t throw those pennies in!


Do you know that if you leave the trails and boardwalks,
you can break through the ground and fall into boiling hot water?
You’re on vacation.
You don’t really want to be the Soup Du Jour, do you?!?
(Yes! It happens! And people DIE!)


Even small, unassuming signs like this need to be obeyed.
Let the plants and flowers grow!


Speaking of flowers:
Did you know that you’re not supposed to pick the wildflowers
in YNP?
Many of YNP wildflowers are important parts of animal diets…
Most deer, porcupines and squirrels can’t run up the road to the local
McDonald’s to buy their meals. They rely on YOU to leave the flowers
where you found them!


Obeying the following signs can save your life.
Sadly, this summer a man was killed by bear
as he and his wife were hiking through the forest.
If the sign says “closed” and you go beyond it, you might be fine.
But then again, you might not.
Is it worth the risk?

(The man that was killed was hiking in an area that was open for hikers. I don’t want to imply that he and his wife were breaking the rules. I just use him as an example that the animals in YNP are WILD and UNPREDICTABLE and will attack if they feel threatened. This was a terrible tragedy and I offer my sympathy to his wife and family.)

A lot of people think that bison are slow.
Did you know they are the largest land mammal in North America?
Bulls can weigh up to 1800 pounds and cows are slightly trimmer at 1000 pounds.
In spite of how large they are, they are agile and quick
and can run at speeds in excess of 30 mph.

How fast can you run?

Yet, every year many people are injured (gored and trampled) because they get too close.

I took this video recently at an area called Fishing Bridge.
I was stunned when this TOURON walked right up to a bison cow to take a photo.
I think he felt safe because there was a mesh fence between them.
Little does he know that a bison can actually jump a 6 foot tall fence.
He got lucky.
He and his friends walked away.
But I got mad.
(You can tell from the audio.)
There’s never a ranger around when you want them!

So, what are you?
Tourist or Touron?

July 5, 2011

Unusual Views

Have you ever wondered what Yellowstone Lake looks like from 13,000 feet?
Thanks to my husband, now you know!
Yellowstone Lake June 2011
**Editor's Note: This is a change from when I originally posted these pictures. Apparently, I mislabeled what ths bottom picture is. Here is the correct information....**

This is the Grand Teton with Jackson Lake on the left. The highest peak is the Grand. You can also see
Mt. Moran just to the left of the grand.

He sure loves flying the plane and seeing Yellowstone from above!

I, however, prefer seeing it from the ground.

June 3, 2011

Is Bigger Better?

I guess that’s the question of the day!

These guys definitely are one of the biggest animals in Our YNP!

While they are not predators… or meat eaters… they can certainly be dangerous. We don’t mess around with these guys. Take a look at those horns. They’re not there as accessories. They’re there to inflict pain.

We wish that the tourists that invade Our YNP would remember that Bison only seem slow and unassuming. They seem like they don’t really care that they are being stared at, photographed and posed in front of.

But they DO get stressed. They DO get mad!

And they can move FAST! Try 40 mph fast!

(Here’s a link that shows how fast a bison can move. I won’t post it here because I don’t want to offend anyone.)

If you’re safe and smart, bison can be some of the most beautiful animals of Our YNP.

These are the pictures that are on the blog banner (up above). They were taken from the safety of our vehicle.

This is the one picture that I wasn’t in a car for. But I was more than 100 yards away.
Taken in Lamar Valley.DSC_0002c

The next two pictures were taken on separate weekends. The first was taken along the Madison River, very close to the campground.
The second was on the road somewhere by Midway Geyser Basin.
Kind of.DSC_0051b

We loved the face of this Little Lady.
She has the perfect Bison face!
Plus she was a little itchy. Trying to get that winter coat off!
(This was also taken in Lamar Valley. Different weekend.)


This picture is kind of an “I- Spy” of YNP. (It’s not in the banner. Sorry.)
Look closely.
Can you see my friend the Bison down there?
This was taken just over the big bridge that’s between
Mammoth and Roosevelt.