Yellowstone Trip Reports
In September 1998 I visited Yellowstone National Park for the first time and have returned every year since. A few years later, my boyfriend Tim Springer joined me, and we began posting our trip reports and photographs of the Park’s abundant wildlife and natural wonders.
Yellowstone is having a cold winter. Snow is everywhere - deep snow, with moose and elk up to their bellies in pure white powder. Floating Island Lake is frozen solid allowing bison to walk across without falling in. The thermometer dives below zero daily, reaching -40 at least once. We should have guessed it would be like this during that first week of October, a time the Park usually basks in Indian summer. Instead temperatures rarely rose above 45 and it rained and/or snowed each day until one drizzly day slid into the next snowy one. In the end it was one cold, wet week.
It’s raining; a cold rain that drenches you in minutes and suddenly stops. We are holed up in the map room in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, sitting at a table at the far end of the room watching passing traffic – human and ungulate – from the floor to ceiling window. This morning it was almost clear as we drove across the Gardiner Bridge, passing a bald eagle perched on a rock, looking for his next meal. The road curves through forests of leafed-out aspen, cottonwoods, and pine trees. A black bear ambles across a clearing in the woods near Lava Creek. Not far down the road, two young bull elk, their antlers still covered in velvet, bed in tall grass on the steep slopes.
Leaving Bozeman, deep green conifers spread across rolling hills and mountains. Aspen and cottonwoods have peaked, their brilliant gold leaves fading. Muted yellows, reds and greens blend forming Yellowstone’s autumn. A large herd of elk graze the pastures of Paradise Valley while not far down the road, antelope forage in grass. Their migration out of the Park has begun.
Just around the bend from Yankee Jim Canyon a chubby black and white border collie perches on top of a tall round boulder, a sentry greeting an SUV at the gate. Horses graze in pastures far from the road: paints, duns, blacks, grey, sun bleached to almost white.