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Yellowstone Side Trip

After a couple of days of kayaking and fishing, I decided it was time for a change of scenery – decided to head up into Yellowstone National Park .

I hadn’t been to the Park in nearly 20 years – was, in fact, anxious to see how the place looked – 20 years ago the evidence of the devastating fires of 1988 were still clearly visible. I wondered how things were recovering. I also wanted to scout out a spot for the Bunkhouse near West Yellowstone for my upcoming planned one week stay before moving up into Montana

Yellowstone’s road system is essentially a “figure 8” and I decided to would put in some miles exploring the lower half of the 8 – enter through the South Entrance and loop West through the area noted for its concentration of thermal features. Decided to skip the photo opp’s for this leg – midday sun, crowds, and needing to make some good time led me to do the typical tourist thing 🙂 drive up; jump out; look briefly; jump back in; move to next overlook/turn-out; rinse and repeat….

What a horrible way to see the park – wanted to scream – People get out of your cars for goodness sake and take a walk amongst all this spectacular beauty

Fortunately, I’ll have a chance to circle back this way – have some hopes about thermal features at sunrise and sunset – stay tuned

After confirming I could fit the Bunkhouse in the campground outside West Yellowstone, it was time to head to Hayden Valley – a great scenic drive with lots of opportunities for wildlife – bison, bears, coyotes, wolves, and birds of prey all call Hayden Valley home almost year-round.

It’s really a nice 16 mile stretch of road – the broad valley features beautiful meadows, rolling hills, and the Yellowstone River.

Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the bison cooperated for some photo opp’s as well as managing to stop traffic.

And, the highlight of the drive was photographing a small band of bison along the river. Lots going on here – the rut had started a bit early so males and females were pairing up. This was making the bulls very hyper – the testosterone was at very high levels – and, fights were breaking out all over to see who would win the ladies hand

And, yes, the fur was flying – literally – those are chunks of hair in the images. I shot a ton of images – hope you enjoy a few which I thought captured the energy of the moment.

With the victors resting and now ready to grab a partner and the losers slinking off or across the river, it was time for me to head for home…

A nice change of pace for a day – and, I was happy to see that the Park was slowly recovering – although some grey skeletal toothpicks of burnt trees still stood in places, the greening up of the Park was vastly improved from my last visit so many years ago…

Looking forward to a nice long week to explore this stunning National Park

Take care – see you down the road

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