this can only end well…
While the first few days held some pretty incredible scenery, our second trip through Yellowstone would prove to be the most beautiful and the most challenging. It would be tough to design a better day – it was cool and clear, with mostly blue skies overhead. We road through the south entrance of the park and stuck to the eastern loop, heading north towards the Lamar Valley.
On this day we hit a few more of the “wildlife traffic jams” which Yellowstone is famous for. The common culprit in these traffic jams are the bison herd, as our paved roads cut directly through their grazing areas. When the slow moving, grazing herd of bison reach a road, they do not cross the obstacle quickly in one unit. Instead, they prefer to continue grazing, and slowly cross one at a time. The pattern seems to go something like this: the bison approaches the road and starts eyeing up the cars which are creeping slowly by, cameras snapping and heads poking out of sunroofs. When there is a break in the traffic, or perhaps a smaller, less intimidating vehicle approaches (like a motorcycle, perhaps?) the beast huffs, shakes its head and charges into the road where it promptly halts. There it stands, slowly looking back and forth and challenging the metal foe to approach. When it is satisfied that it is not being challenged, the bison will calmly strut off the road and keep grazing on the opposite side. From inside of a car, I’m sure this a slightly exciting and interesting sight. From the back of a motorcycle, its downright terrifying! Luckily the brakes worked on the ’83, or Adam would have had an up close and personal encounter with a not-so-friendly bison.
We chose to exit the park through the Lamar Valley, the “Serengeti of North America”. This breathtaking valley has the highest concentration of wolves, grizzlies, and bison in North America (or so I’m told). While we saw plenty of bison and observed a gaggle of tourists pointing at a grizzly, we did not have the opportunity to cross paths with the wolves. The road through this valley is dotted with folks stationed behind spotting scopes, with picnic baskets and folding chairs, scanning the hills and fields for wolves (who I imagine are just going about their daily business).
We pulled out of the Lamar Valley and starting head up, up, and away towards the Beartooth Pass – which we will cover in the next post.