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2015-05-22 Teton and Yellowstone Parks

North American Brown Bear - Ursus arctos ssp.My final departure from Jackson Wyoming on this day took me back through the same drive that Rick and I took on May 18th. Even before I crossed into Yellowstone Part from Teton National Park, there were some big game encounters that I missed on the previous drive. Just past Moran Junction where US-89/US-26 meet US-287 the highway goes past Jackson Lake, crosses the snake river for the last time and begins the climb into Yellowstone National Park. I was on this stretch of road when I met a large group of vehicles pulled over to the side of the road. I could see something large a few hundred yards to the east and when I got stopped I could see a momma Grizzly and three small cubs grazing at the far end of the roadside pasture/meadow. The photographer in me wished the subjects were much closer, but another part of me was glad for the distance. I and the entire group stayed for the better part of an hour enjoying the scene.

My drive from this scene was mostly scenic. The ONLY elk I met (until California) was a single large antlerless adult near West Thumb. The drive past Yellowstone lake did not yield and subjects that made me want to jump out of my skin for, they were subjects that either I’d already captured or were too distant to tempt me to spent the time. Along the Yellowstone River several miles before the great Yellowstone Canyon I did stop for some Barrow’s Goldeneye ducks, and bison could be seen along this stretch. Just before the Canyon Village I took the loop for the North Rim Road and found a raven and an osprey nest to photograph.

It’s true that there in a lot to see in this park, but I had a couple of incentives to keep my visit short on this trip. I had a cousin west of West Yellowstone that I wanted to hookup with, the park facilities (camps, stores, hotels and restaurants) were three or four days before opening for business, and there were already lots of tourists present. I had one experience at a narrow bridge where traffic got stopped for a half mile it either direction because of a coyote … a COYOTE! I had to temper my horror at this public reaction to a less-than-outstanding subject with the knowledge that for people from the western Pacific Rim, this encounter must have been exceptional (there were LOTS of them). It was however, not where I wanted to be stuck in a crowd.

With that in mind I launched myself on the Norris Canyon Road which drops into the Madison River Valley and out the park through West Yellowstone Montana. Other than great scenery I found little compelling subjects until I got further down on the Madison River and found a small herd of bison cows and calves in an island in the river that offered fairly close and relaxed shots of the group. Also along this section were some Common Mergansers fishing. It was an education for me to see just how fast these birds could get through the waters when a meal was at hand.

On leaving the park I was able to reach my cousin to have a meal with and spend the night. Next morning I continued on to Stevensville Montana in the Bitterroot Valley where I stayed for four days with a friend that I grew up with. Again on this leg I found a few subjects, but nothing other than the scenery was very compelling.

Images from this day include American Bison, Bison Calves, Common Merganser, Common Raven, Barrow’s Goldeneye, North American Brown Bear, Osprey Nest and scenery and can be seen Below

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