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Day 1

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Yellowstone River is running high and fast and muddy with snowmelt and the Bridger Mountains are still capped with snow.  A few river rafts filled with brave souls bob up and down in the rushing water.  A golden eagle flaps his wings high above Dome Mountain Ranch.  On our way to the Park we stopped at The Rock Shop in Livingston which has an impressive selection of art objects – bookends, nightlights, jewelry – all artistically crafted into functional pieces and art.  All the work is beautifully done, but one piece made of fossilized fish while swimming was absolutely amazing.

yellowstone moose 1

The temperature was 61º by 10:30 this sunny, breezy day.  Gardiner is already filled with visitors, vehicles lining the streets.  There is a new rest area near the Park entrance with benches constructed of rock and a gabled roof that overlooks the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardiner Rivers.  Surrounded by bright yellow balsamroot and other colorful wildflowers, it is a peaceful oasis.

At Mammoth, elk lounge on the bright green lawn surrounding the hotel.  An elk calf probably born this morning follows its mother in halting steps.  White spots dot its rich red-brown coat, shining in the sunlight as it nurses.  He/she walks awkwardly on long, spindly legs, unsteady.  From the hotel map room, we watched the cow and calf only a few yards away or less.  The tiny calf with its dark, shiny nose and soft eyes was the face of innocence.  It ventured away from its mother to walk the gravel bed along the hotel wall while the cow poked her nose through bars along a hotel railing, tasting the metal and concrete.  We wondered if she could see us watching her through the screened windows; if she did, she didn’t act like it.

Yellowstone pronghorn

The great horned owls that nest next to the Albright Center are still there.  We stared up through the thick branches of the pine tree, searching for them, but the chicks and the female were tucked deep in the nest and the male was nowhere to be seen.  A ranger at the Albright Center confirmed there are two owlets, possible three.

The rest of the afternoon we drove up to Tower and through Lamar Valley.  Bison and their calves are scattered across the hillsides along with antelope and a few pairs of sandhill cranes.  Rain and snowmelt has left everything a vibrant green.  Even Phantom Lake is full, as is Rainy Lake, stretching its shoreline far beyond its normal borders.

We are back at Roosevelt Lodge after several years.  The cabin is very comfortable and spacious.  It’s so nice to walk out the door and be in the middle of the Park.

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By |2018-09-18T01:03:55-06:00August 6th, 2018|Yellowstone|2 Comments


  1. Catherine Frizat September 22, 2018 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Hi, first I’d like to say thank you for these wonderful trip reports. I have a couple questions. First, what equipment do you use to take these amazing photos and videos ? And just to observe in the park (without talking pictures)? Also it seems you often visit Yellowstone in early June, do you think it’s the best time of year to see wolves (short of the winter of course). Thank you so much in advance for your answer.

    • cfbaleshta November 11, 2018 at 4:47 am - Reply

      Hi Catherine! Thank you for viewing my website. I replied earlier, but the website was hacked unfortunately and I’m not sure my reply was posted. I apologize for the late response – Tim and I were in Yellowstone the end of September and we are now working on another trip report. Tim takes the photos and videos and uses a Cannon DSLR. He recommends any DSLR camera with at least a 400 mm lens. We also use a Zeis spotting scope and good binoculars (mine are Nikon Monarch). A spotting scope is a big investment so you might consider renting one from Yellowstone Optics in Gardiner, especially if it’s not something you will use a lot. We like to visit the Park in early June to see the new bison and elk calves and bear cubs, and hopefully wolf pups, but we also like the fall. It’s difficult to say when the best time to see wolves is now because the wolf population is smaller than a few years ago, but you are correct that winter is a great time to see wolves. However, we manage to see wolves whenever we go – you just have to be willing to get up early and be patient. I hope this helps and I hope you have a great trip whenever you go.

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