Yellowstone, October 18-21, 2012

The family and I enjoyed a four day fall weekend in Yellowstone National Park October 18-21, 2012.

The Park was relatively quiet.  The fires of September weren’t kicking up smoke, the elk rut was winding down, migratory birds had largely departed, the bears were playing hard to find…  But, of course, there was still plenty to enjoy.

This ruffed grouse seemed to be on a mission. We were surprised when it landed on the roof of my dad’s van, but I learned later that was a routine event for this bird throughout the fall.

Gray jays and Clark’s nutcrackers made picnics a bit difficult, living up to their camp robber moniker, forcing us to keep all food covered and under close guard.  Pretty little thieves, though…

Dad and I enjoyed a bit of a chuckle when we came across this handsome coyote.  He had an audience of about 20 people as he was mousing for dinner.  His audience, however, thought he was a wolf and bolted when he charged at a ground squirrel, like a wolf was attacking.  Dad asked if I was going to inform them it was a coyote.  I said “and ruin their good find and thrill?  No way!  I’ll let them have their “wolf!”  I was pretty sure that if they reported a “wolf attack” (the only possible problem with allowing them to continue thing it a wolf), and showed a Ranger their pictures, it would be a swiftly dismissed report.  Naughty of me, maybe, but sometimes…

mousing coyote

On the evening of the October 19, I left the rest of the crew at the hotel and went back into the Park for an evening check on the Swan Lake Flat area.  There, I found a bull elk with a HUGE harem of cows under a fiery sky.

colorful sunset clouds


The next morning we stopped across the road from the Mammoth Campground where another harem bull was, apparently, too worn down from the rigors of the rut to be bothered to keep the younger bulls chased off.  This pair was sparring within the harem.

young bull elk sparring

After a day of off-and-on storms, rainbows made an appearance in the afternoon, much to the delight of one cousin/niece.

It soon started storming again, but my other little cousin/niece really wanted to take a walk at the Mammoth Terraces, so she and I took a walk in the rain.  After all, her sister got her rainbow…

Palette Springs grows more and becomes more colorful every time I visit for the last couple years.

The colors of Palette Terrace - Mammoth Hot Springs

I had not visited the Upper Terrace for several months and was not aware that the springs were “plugged up” and the terraces dried up.

dry travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

Here’s a comparison from September of 2009 – aptly titled “Where Geologic Time Flies.”  What a difference three years makes, eh?!

The highlight of the next day, and, for many members of our divided party, was this fox hunting from a fallen log the next day.

red fox walking on fallen log

Not as action packed as some trips (which have been worthy of a report each day), but a great trip nonetheless.

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