We’ve emerged from our six-night stay in Yellowstone National Park and I feel neglectful for not visiting sooner. We learned so much about the land, the history of the park, the issues it faces, and the wildlife. Everyday as we ventured out into the massive park we encountered so many animals. The roads were very busy and the speed limit in the park is 45 mph. When there are animals viewable from the road, cars will slow and pullover to get photos and it quickly becomes what we dubbed a “nature jam.” These were common occurrences all day long. It was off of the road twice when we saw the same mama grizzly bear with her two cubs.
The roadside sightings were frequent and a fun part of traveling the park, but the encounters that I’ll remember forever were the ones that happened when Finn and I were out walking trails. We saw elk, deer, bison, snakes, geese, and muskrats all while hiking; it is the only time you feel alone in the park. You could be just half a mile from the road, but once you step in you are absorbed by the land and might not see another person until you reemerge.
The day before we left we were hiking to a lodge where we planned to have dinner. We were walking single file down a marshy gorge and suddenly Finn stops. In front of us was an incredibly fit bison bull rolling in a dirt bed. We’d seen several older bulls near the road; they often behaved in a way that communicated an understanding of this whole park situation. People, cars, photos are all part of the daily routine. This handsome fellow looked young, energized, and badass. He stopped, stood, and watched us. We started slowly backtracking and took a large loop around him. When we caught sight of him again over our shoulders he was back in his dirt bed, rolling in the evening sun.
Some of the park wildlife: