Yellowstone Park Feb 16-20, 2012 Report/Pics

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Yellowstone Park Feb 16-20, 2012 Report/Pics

Postby Deb1741 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:36 am

My grandson and I took our second trip into the interior of Yellowstone Park this past weekend. We drove to Gardiner Thursday morning. I knew it was going to be a good trip when we saw a bald eagle and 3 juvenile bald eagles on a deer carcass beside the interstate. I pulled over and we spent about 15 minutes taking pictures. We have lots of bald eagles here in Montana but I’ve never seen one with a juvenile eagle let alone 3 juveniles so it was quite the treat.
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We drove into the park and to Lamar before heading back to Gardiner to check into the Super 8. There had been an elk kill just east of Mammoth the day before but by the time we got there everything was gone and no wolves in sight. All we saw in Lamar was 5 bighorn rams.
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Very little snow compared to last year at this time. Last year we took a pic of a bison struggling to walk across the snow in the field just west of the Pebble Creek Campground turnout. Last year you couldn’t see any of the willow bushes.
Last year
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This year you can see about 6 feet of the bushes!
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Got up early Friday morning to catch the snow coach to Old Faithful. The ride was beautiful but uneventful.
Gibbon Falls
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Bison Jam Winter Style
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We got into Old Faithful and got checked into a Western Cabin for two nights. We got settled in and then strapped our snowshoes on for about a 3 hour hike around the geyser basin.
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Got to experience Grand Geyser go off. There was a ranger standing by it when we got there and she said we needed to stay because it would probably go off in 5 minutes. We were the only ones there and it was spectacular.

Saturday we took the 2 hour cross country ski lessons. There were only us and another guy taking lessons but he had a hard time and quit after about 45 minutes so we basically had a private lessons. We worked nonstop for the entire two hours learning everything we could and then we took off on the 5 mile RT trail to Biscuit Basin. We had never skied before and had a blast- there is definitely a learning curve involved and it’s harder than it looks but we had a blast. It took us 4 hours to get to Biscuit and back.
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Saturday night we took the Stars and Steamscape Snowcoach Tour. It was snowing like crazy so we didn’t see any stars : ( but we got to walk out to Black Sand Pool which is experiencing a very rare phenomenon right now. For some unknown reason there are steam explosions that occur underground making a huge thumping noise and vibrating the ground. The last time it occurred was in 1995 for about 3 weeks and the time before that was in the 70’s. We walked right up to the rim of the pool to listen and feel the thumping. It was so cool but really freaky!
Our tour guide Adam after we got back to the snowcoach.
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Sunday morning we got up and took our last tour around the geyser basin. We caught our snow coach ride back to Mammoth. The highlight was seeing a fox laying in the snow right beside the road. He was cooperative and posed for us.
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We stayed overnight Sunday at Gardiner again so we could drive Lamar again and hopefully snowshoe up to Tower Falls. The weather was downright blustery and freezing cold so we decided not to do the snowshoeing. We were lucky and saw the Lamar Canyon wolf pack. The day before they had been feeding on a bison that had been hit by a truck pulling a snowmobile trailer. The rangers had dragged the bison away from the road and apparently the pack had put on quite the show. When we got there they were on a rise on the north side of the road. There were 10 wolves on the rise but we only got to see 4 as the others were just below in a dip. We took pics but they were too far away to get any decent pics.

We did get to see an otter on the Lamar River which is always a highlight and the first otter we've seen on the Lamar.
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We headed out of the park around 12:30 to get back to Billings at a decent time. About 20 miles north of Gardiner we saw a bunch of golden eagles on a deer carcass. Only one stayed on the carcass while we were taking pics. I thought it was really fitting that our trip started with the bald eagle and ended with a golden eagle.
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Our trip to OF was fantastic and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Next time I think I would stay for 3 nights instead of two so it would give us two full days to do activities. Both grandson and I were just exhausted trying to pack everything in that we wanted to do. There truly are no words that can describe just how beautiful and magical Yellowstone is in the winter. There is even beauty in the simplest things.
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Deb
"There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast" ~ unknown
"Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way" ~ Dr. Suess
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Re: Yellowstone Park Feb 16-20, 2012 Report/Pics

Postby brindledog » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:44 pm

Fabulous trip report. We have never been to Yellowstone in the winter, but I have always wanted to go. There is a PBS special that airs each December: "Christmas in Yellowstone," or something like that. It makes me want to spend the holidays there. Love this report. Thanks for posting.

For those interested, a very inspirational description of Yellowstone in the winter. The last sentence is very moving (in my opinion), and so true of whatever National Park - or place - inspires each of us.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=575Vh3zgGDI
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Re: Yellowstone Park Feb 16-20, 2012 Report/Pics

Postby gohike » Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:59 pm

It looks and sounds like you both had a great trip :)
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Re: Yellowstone Park Feb 16-20, 2012 Report/Pics

Postby Pocketlint » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:47 pm

Hey Deb:

I reallllly like that picture of the Golden Eagle!!
And catching the magpie with its wings flared like that was an added bonus.

I love the big predators, be they birds or mammals. I suppose it's just the fellow "predator" in me....and even though I love venison, roadkill wouldn't be my first choice for din din.

Some may believe this sort picture is somehow "gross". However, the larger predators like the eagles and coyotes serve a vital function in the food chain. They open up the carcass so that the smaller scavengers can get at the meat too. When the larger animals pick it "clean" then the lil guys take over right on down to the bacteria at the bitter end. Nothing goes to waste.
Love yours and Braeden's pictures!

pocketlint :wink:
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Re: Yellowstone Park Feb 16-20, 2012 Report/Pics

Postby Deb1741 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:40 pm

Pocketlint wrote:Hey Deb:

I reallllly like that picture of the Golden Eagle!!
And catching the magpie with its wings flared like that was an added bonus.

I love the big predators, be they birds or mammals. I suppose it's just the fellow "predator" in me....and even though I love venison, roadkill wouldn't be my first choice for din din.

Some may believe this sort picture is somehow "gross". However, the larger predators like the eagles and coyotes serve a vital function in the food chain. They open up the carcass so that the smaller scavengers can get at the meat too. When the larger animals pick it "clean" then the lil guys take over right on down to the bacteria at the bitter end. Nothing goes to waste.
Love yours and Braeden's pictures!

pocketlint :wink:


I don't have any problems watching an animal eat a carcass. However, I can not and will not watch a predator stalk and kill an animal. I know it happens and I know it is necessary but I can't watch it. There have been threads in another forum I frequent that will have pics and/or videos and I avoid them like the plague.
Thanks for the complement on the pics. We have a long ways to go on learning how to use my new camera but we're getting a little better each time we go out. Well.....Braeden is because he's the one that takes most of the pics with the big camera. I just stick with my little point and shoot. I'm thinking of going to Yellowstone by myself the weekend he'll be on his Washington DC trip. It will give me the chance to be in total control of the big camera as I'm not letting him take it to DC. I've never been to the park by myself before so it should be an interesting trip for me. I'm curious as to if I will like being by myself or if I will be really bored (well as bored as one can get when you're in paradise and the bears are out and about all hungry from their long winter's nap).
Deb
"There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast" ~ unknown
"Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way" ~ Dr. Suess
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