Fumarole. Mud pot. Hot spring. Geyser. Do you know the difference?
Yes? No? Regardless, Yellowstone has them all and so much more. People associate Yellowstone with its thermal features and wildlife, and it delivers.
Water in Yellowstone is everywhere. Rivers and lakes surround so many of the tremendous park drives, giving sustenance to lush grasses and so many animals. It seemed as though every other pullout was a waterfall, capped by the majestic Yellowstone Falls.
Traffic was frequently at a standstill due to “bison jams” caused either by the animals in the road or right alongside it. Occasionally there would be cars parked on the side of the road due to elk or bear sightings, with throngs of people standing outside with their D4000 supercamera zoomed in on its nose hair.
The capstone of our wildlife experience happened on our last day in the park. The previous night, we’d had good conversations with five siblings in their mid-40s and they recommended exploring a more rugged area of the park. (We were camped right alongside them and sang campfire songs well into the night together along with some great guitar playing.) But that’s day three. Going back..
Our first day in the park was underwhelming when it came to the animal side of things. Fumaroles and geysers galore, but we “only” hung out with a few bison and a deer.
The second day introduced us to a pretty large herd of bison and some seriously cool baths of boiling mud, but still… the Yellowstone bear was in hiding.
So, that drive on day three. We started heading down this much emptier road, wide open land on either side. Nothing interesting was happening but we were both still enjoying the beauty. Then we saw some cars stopped on the side of the road. None of them looked broken down, so that was a promising sign. It delivered. About 200 bison, fairly close by. Resting, rolling in the dust. Very cool stuff.
We then saw a crowd of stopped cars, joined them, and… we see a bear! If you can define a faint black smudge in the distance as a bear. It was discernable using the 12x optical zoom on our camera, but was mildly disappointing. We continued our drive toward the north exit of the park.
STOP! There’s a bear cub. About 20 feet from the RV. OH MY GOD. I have no idea where mama bear is, but this guy is cute and is looking right at us. BEAR! BABY BEAR! And mama bear didn’t try to kill us.
Yellowstone for the win!
posted by yair