Trip Report 4/26 to 5/6

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Trip Report 4/26 to 5/6

Post by Mike »

I headed in the west entrance on the 26th under clear skies and pleasant temperatures,along the Madison the eagle nest along the river was occupied by two canada geese,at the bridge there was a small group of bison cows moving toward the meadow.Along Gibbon Meadows about one to two inches of snow covered about 50% of the meadow with a few bull bison occupying the few grassy areas.Getting through the construction zone took about 30 minutes.Swan Lake was still frozen over and the flats had about 2-3 inches of snow still lingering.

Had planned to camp all week at Mammoth and to my surprise the camp was full at 11:00am,maybe I should not have crowed about never being shut out in this post so my best alternative was all the way to Yankee Jim Canyon about 12 miles from Gadiner,you can get there quite quickly and I was able to find a spot that was somewhat secluded and behind the giant boulders that have broke off the side of the mountain and rolled down in the camp,this kind of blocked the highway noise as the camp is sandwiched between two cliffs a river and highway.The camp is OK for a night,don't bring your large RV or trailers here,maybe 2 or 3 sites you could squeeze in.

Friday morning off to Mammoth by 7:30am to grab a site from the first person I saw leaving,the camp would be full till May 1st when they opened up the loop.

Seeing few elk around Mammoth,none over by Rye Pond,there were some groups of elk,bison and antelope near the arch and at the flats beyond Rescue Creek including a large group of sheep down from the cliffs.

Going out to the Lamar Valley I see little,road to Petrified Tree Road is not plowed yet,I do stop to watch two bald eagles soaring over Elk Creek.Lots of bison at Tower,fair amount of antelope.Something is going on over at the Roosevelt corral,a black is in side the corrals and just as i arrive,so does a ranger and hazes the bear only allowing me to photograph the south end of a north bound bear.I am told that this has been happening for the last few days.

At the Yellowstone Picnic area a large group of ewes is at the pond across the road drinking,I stop to photograph and they cross the road and walk right into the crowd along the road causing me to have to backpedal.

Little America is full of critters including some red dogs,every day there would be more of the little guys running around.A stop in the canyon and cuaght both of the osprey at the nest,did not see any chicks and the nest is kind of low so I am confident that there are no hatch lings yet.


At Slough Creek the wolves are on a one or two year old bision they took down over night,the watchers are being kept at the road

The Lamar River is ripping through the canyon and is a cappuccino colored froth and is probably at the highest level it gets,when I see the Lamar I know why,it's pretty much snow covered on the river bottom.Every slough,side channel and depression has flowing water some very large ponds have little tributaries that the runoff has cut down two feet as it flows to the river.Of course there are no wildlife around except quite a few sandhill cranes and a coyote keeping a close eye out for a opportunity.

Up to Round Prairie and there are two moose,one cow and one bull,I stop and shoot for a while and all of a sudden another bull comes from behind me and crosses the creek and joins the pair but keeps a good distance between the pair already there
The rest of the trip would have lots of moose around Pebble Creek and up a little further at the Soda Butte Creek bridge.also saw cow and one year old calf at elk creek but had to take cover as a lot lightning started to hit.

Two days of really warm weather has melted a lot of the snow and the bottom of the valley is now very swampy but some bison and antelope are moving down from the hillsides and to the river side.Lots of bighorn rams hanging around from Enclosure to Hitching Post.

The only wolves seen besides at the Slough den was a grey at Footbridge(was told that a black was with her but I did not see it),who traveled all the way up to Trout Creek where a large crowd kind of blocked the wolf's travel where it narrows down.Also saw 996m across from Fisherman's chase a grizzly sow and cub,the cub shot up a large pine and almost as fast as it went up,it came sliding down and joined it's mother atop a large boulder where the wolf barked a few times then took off toward Slough Creek.Other grizzly sightings were on Slough side just west of Jasper Bench,also a sow and cub came near the lower den at Slough but was chased off by the wolves.The road to Slough Creek was blocked at the first gate and the restroom was non op,come on NPS all those people hanging around and you can't open one rest room ?

For a least two days had a black sow with a cinnamon cub on the wreckers side of the Yellowstone Bridge,down in the trees,she would put the cub up a tree while she fed on the new green grasses,very difficult to photograph,always behind trees,tall bush and the terraced side of the canyon,but did catch her stand in the open.

There were plenty of black bears seen,at Phantom Lake a cinnamon,a large black boar at Floating Island Lake,the black phase at Roosevelt,another young cinnamon between the picnic area and the bridge


By Sunday the 29th the weather turned cold with rain turning to snow with a pea size hail storm right at Phantom Lake.At times visibility in the Lamar was terrible. Closure signs popped up overnight between Footbridge and Hitching Post,might be the grey I saw hanging in that area.
A bison gave birth right across from the Tower RS on that little flat raised area drawing quite a large crowd,bighorn rams have replaced the ewes at the little pond across from the Yellowstone. More elk showing up at Mammoth and through out the park as the week progressed,lot's of deer too,on Wednesday I started to have problems with my vehicle and spent most of the day in camp,while all the other campers were out a nice looking fox swept the campground looking for some scrap of food.

Thursday I moved to Madison to meet up with friends that have not been to the park,so it was mostly a tour of the geyser fields and to Canyon.Checked out Steamboat which has been active of late but nothing was happening this day,at Old Faithful we almost missed the eruption as we were caught between Beehive and OF when they were both erupting.Old Faithful was small eruption,Beehive on the other hand was much longer and higher.The canyon area still had a lot of snow and a lot of work going on both the north and south rim,most of the trails were still blocked by snow,a lot of the walkways were closed,the area at Uncle Tom's parking area is a construction mud pit.That night at least two wolves were howling near Madison campground.

On Friday the 4th out to the lake where the Hayden Valley was still one to two feet of snow, a few bull bison out off Grizzly Overlook and at Indian Pond no wildlife.The lake was covered in slushy looking ice but I saw no breaks in the ice from on high at Lake Butte overlook.

Saturday the 5th back to the Lamar,at Nymph Lake a sow grizz with a cub,people were saying there was a second cub but I saw just the one.With nowhere to park,snap a pic and had to keep moving.Was able to give my friends a good day of seeing grizz,black bear at Phantom Lake (and a big bear jam),goats,moose,bighorns,wolves,elk,antelope,and bison.

On Sunday I had to leave and have a water pump installed cutting short my trip but overall I was able to see lot of the park and a lot of wildlife,wish that the grizzly bears would have been closer,gives me a excuse to try again next year
Last edited by Mike on Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Trip Report 4/26 to 5/6

Post by yellvet »

Thanks for sharing your trip report, Mike. Wish the weather had been better for you. We had hail at our house, too. No damage, though. May weather is always so unpredictable. But rain never seems to slow down the critters. Glad you got to see as many animals as you did.

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Re: Trip Report 4/26 to 5/6

Post by lah »

Thanks, Mike. Sorry you had car and weather problems, but you got some nice shots. Great cross fox picture.

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Re: Trip Report 4/26 to 5/6

Post by BeartoothTucker »

Great report.

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Re: Trip Report 4/26 to 5/6

Post by Dorothy »

Thanks for the wonderful, detailed report, and the great photos!

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