Lamar Valley (The Roosevelt Area in Yellowstone National Park)


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!

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