Lamar Valley (The Roosevelt Area in Yellowstone National Park)

7.07.2019

Our trip to Yellowstone National Park was AMAZING.  My goal was to post about each day as the trip was occurring, but as you can imagine, the internet service in the park is not the greatest, and we went several days without access.  The other truth is that we went on an all-day, week-long tour with three other families, so our days were full, and I often fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

The first official day of our Yellowstone Forever adventure was at Lamar Valley.  (Part of the "Roosevelt Area," Lamar Valley is known for its broad vistas, open hillsides, and LOTS of wildlife.) Our Yellowstone Forever Bus headed out early (at 7 a.m.), and we spent the day stopping to view animals.  Sometimes we stopped because we'd see a random animal, like a bear, from the side of the road.  Other times, we'd see crowds of people with binoculars, which told us there was something exciting to view!  We'd stop, ask a few bystanders what they were looking at, and then decide as a group if we wanted to be part of the fun!

Along our trip, just on this one day, we saw bison, two black bears, a pronghorn antelope, a family of badgers, a coyote, elk, osprey, wolves, and several mountain goats.  Here are just a few of the pictures I was able to capture:

This guy was holding up five miles worth of traffic.  Good thing for us, we were on the opposite side of the road!





We stopped at a ranch that was used to help breed and protect bison.  When the park first opened,
there were only 24 bison left in all of North America.  Now, the park is home to 5,000 bison!




Do you see the pronghorn antelope?

Remains from an elk.  Our guide, Chandler, had us hike to this spot.


Lewie would not touch the bones, but Amina from our group had no problem grabbing the skull!



Looking at some mountain goats through binoculars...




Our tour guide, Chandler, told us we were very lucky to see so much wildlife in one day.  However, the most exciting moment for all of us is when we saw a real life wolf/bison encounter.  Almost 20 minutes into our trip, our guide pulled to the side of the road because there was a group of 30+ people standing with their binoculars and scopes.  When we asked about the details, we learned that three wolves had killed a young bison calf.  The wolves were trying to get to their prey, but the bison mama (and family) were chasing off the wolves.




As you can see, the pictures of the wolves and the bison are blurry as we were quite a distance away.  Still, I am so lucky to have these photos as one of the families in our group took these amazing shots.  (The bison and wolves in my pictures were way too small.)

As we looked through our binoculars and our scopes, we saw the wolves try to keep sneaking up on the bison to get to the dead calf.  At one point, I watched as the mama bison and one of the wolves had a stare down.  The wolf eventually lied down, and after a few minutes, the mama bison did the same thing.  Then the wolf got up quickly and nipped the mama bison in the butt.  To that, she got up and charged at him.  I couldn't believe I had viewed all of this with my own eyes...

At first Lewie was a little upset by the ordeal.  "Mommy, I thought this was a family-friendly trip," he said half joking-half serious.  We reminded him that this is nothing more than the cycle of life.  After a few minutes of viewing, however, he was hooked, too.  It was amazing to see the stand off between the bison and the wolves.  (This is when Chandler explained that there are over 5,000 bison in the park but only 100 wolves.  The wolves, reintroduced to the park back in 1995, live in packs and are very territorial.  They estimate that there are about 10 wolf packs in the entire park.  The number fluctuates a little, but 100 is the standard--they don't expect this number to increase.)


Yes, this first day of viewing wildlife in Yellowstone was AMAZING.  The best part was watching my son, who is usually tied to his computer at home, out in the middle of nature admiring the beauty and pure magic of it all.  Yes, Lamar Valley was MAGIC!

Jackson Hole, The Grand Tetons, & Moose Wyoming

6.17.2019

Since I was in high school, my dream was to visit Yellowstone National Park.  Maybe it was because of the breathtaking scenery, the geysers, and the wilderness, or maybe it was because I was in awe that a National Park could be the same size as our little state of Connecticut.

Whatever the reason, I've been drawn to it, and I can't believe that right now, my (our) dream is finally coming true.  On Friday, we flew into Jackson Hole, WY and stayed at the Snake River Lodge.  There, we've been able to explore a little of the Grand Tetons.  Tomorrow (Monday), we are on our way to begin a five day tour of Yellowstone, complete with our own tour guide who will be leading a group of two to three families with children Lewie's age (ages 8 - 12).

While Yellowstone has been the focus of our trip, I can't say enough about our experience here in Teton Village and the surrounding area.  What a gorgeous view of rolling fields, ranches, and farms with the beautiful white Teton Mountain Range in the backdrop!

Here is how we spent our first day...it's pure paradise for anyone like me that loves nature and getting a glimpse of life on the prairie back in the 1800's:

Our plane at Jackson Hole Airport.  We saw the beautiful Teton Mountain Range as we landed on the runway.  Breathtaking!!


Our hotel inside Teton Village.

Views from right outside of Teton Village.

On our short walk, we saw a few paragliders jumping from the mountains.  Their journey to the bottom looked so calm and peaceful; I think this activity may be on my bucket list....

Wagon ride anyone?
 After exploring views from Teton Village, we left to take a rafting trip down Snake River.  At first we were going to try whitewater river rafting, but when we learned the snow-melt river was 50 degrees, we decided to try the "dry" floating option...
Floating down the Snake River through the forests of Grand Teton National Park.




Our tour guide rowed the boat and kept it steady in some choppy waters. 
(He's going to Brown University for med school in the fall.)







On our tour, we saw some Pelicans and a baby Bald Eagle.  (It was my first sighting of a Bald Eagle ever!)



If the river rafting wasn't enough, we decided to drive to Moose, Wyoming (inside Grand Teton National Park) to eat at Dornan's Chuckwagon.  This was truly our first chuckwagon supper experience.  For those of you, like me, that's not up on the lingo, a "chuckwagon" is a type of field kitchen with a covered wagon used for storage and cooking equipment.  Early settlers, cowboys, and loggers were used to eating like this on the prairies of the United States and Canada.   I loved it!!

On Mondays, Dornan's has hootenannies.  If we were not traveling to Yellowstone, I would have loved to experience this, too.  Who wouldn't love eating with some folk music and dancing?!










Good eats!!




Our first day in Wyoming was simply outstanding.  The weather was perfect (in the low 70's) with a light breeze, and the sky couldn't be bluer with the most beautiful white puffy clouds.  There wasn't a single bad view.  Even the grocery stores like Albertsons and Aspens Market were surrounded by beauty, and the insides of the markets were clean, rustic, and cozy, too.  It was nice to be in an environment where it appears as if everyone takes pride in their home.