Yellowstone National Park: The Sequal

Cinnamon Black Bear. Yes, black bears come in different colors. You can tell a black bear from Grizzly by the shape of the snout, the ears, the claws, shoulders, and the butt.

I left Granite Creek Ranch rather reluctantly but I had places to go and people to meet. I drove north following scenic routes through Victor and Griggs on my way to West Yellowstone, Montana. I drove through Idaho potato country, which looks very much like Maine Potato country (Aroostook County) except that the Rocky Mountains loom in the far distance here.

Outside Griggs, Idaho

Rocky Mountains loom in the distance. Leaving Griggs.

Driving into the storm.

I drove through Island Park, which claims the longest Main Street in the US. Once over the Montana state line I did something super exciting: laundry. I followed this up by getting pizza for dinner at the Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon in West Yellowstone, Montana. There was a huge thunderstorm and then a magnificent rainbow. Shortly thereafter Traveler Thirteen, a fellow photographer, arrived with our accommodations for the next three nights: Bessie the Camper. We stayed at the Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park. Also along for this leg of the trip was the intrepid Chena, Thirteen's border collie mix (who is something of a pillow hog but I love her anyway).

I have to point out that rainbows seem to be an augur of my meeting up with Thirteen because this is the second time I've arrived in Montana to be greeted by a rainbow and Traveler Thirteen. It's just plain weird. I'm starting to think Thirteen might actually be a unicorn.

Not the most beautiful photo but certainly one hell of a rainbow. West Yellowstone, Montana, as a town, isn't the most photogenic place in the world. 

We got up early the first morning and armed with far too much photographic equipment (mostly my fault) headed into the park. We immediately came upon an eagle posing in the most perfect place...and we both missed the shot. But a little while later we awarded with a small herd of buffalo with gamboling babies in tow. And they wandered into the mist rising from the Madison River and became magical, ethereal buffalo of legends.

Elk also haunted the misty river side. And later we'd pass a bull elk napping near the side of the road. We went into the Lamar Valley. We ended up watching people watch a wolf den. No actual wolves or pups were seen by us.

Then a dream came true. I finally saw a bear in Yellowstone (I've seen them before but not here). It was a cinnamon black bear not quite full grown. It was wandering through brush and over fallen trees. And then all hell broke loose. It seemed many tourists were willing to sacrifice their children to it or oncoming traffic in their excitement trying to get far too close to the bear. There was park staff there trying to keep people under control. Chaos ensued as the bear decided to cross the road in the exact place the park staff directed people to stand and people went in different directions trying to avoid the bear, including me and Thirteen. That bear hit the middle of the road and took off like a shot. It passed right behind Thirteen and three other people, who were smart enough to just keep going thus avoiding a possible collision with the bear, who just wanted to get out of the area.

But we weren't planning on staying in the park because we had a horse drive to attend.

Next post: The Hells-a-Roaring Horse Drive.

Madison River steaming in the early morning sun.

Buffalo with babies.


Frolicking baby buffalo. This photo was taken about two weeks after the extremely unfortunate incident where tourists places a seemingly abandoned baby buffalo in the back of their vehicle. 

Baby bison.

Mom escorting her baby to whereever all the bison were going.

Somewhere near Mount Washburn. You are looking at lodge pole pines burned a while ago in a forest fire. 

The cinnamon black bear explore the slope.

Another look at the black bear.