|Well, we decided to stay put for at least 2 more nights and hope they get the roads opened on Friday as scheduled in our quest to get to Cody WY. If that doesn’t happen we will wing it. Again. This morning started out a cold wintery mix of snow, sleet and wind so we decided to run a couple errands in town and go to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to see the – get this – Grizzly Bears and Wolves.
This is a really nice facility that has indoor exhibits and outdoor enclosures for 8 wolves and about a dozen Grizzly bears. They rotate the bears in the enclosure about every 45 minutes so you see a variety from year-old cubs to adults. It was really interesting, in fact we got there about noon, watched both the wolves and bears for awhile, then left to go home and eat lunch, then went back at about 3:00 to see another demonstration.
At about 3:30 the weather really started to clear up so we decided to head into the park to make another valiant attempt to see some wolves in the wild. We headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs because we had heard a hot tip that wolves were up there feeding on a carcass right off the side of the road. On the way up we came upon a crowd at the Roaring Mountain pull off, including a ranger, so we stopped to see what all the commotion was. We found out that a Grizzly had come across the road, walked along the west side for awhile and then went back onto the east side and disappeared into the woods. We got there a couple minutes too late so we missed it. I did get a pic of his paw prints in the snow though and that was pretty cool. But no bear.
We continued on to Mammoth and saw exactly zero wolves. So much for the hot tip. So, semi-defeated and dejected we decided to head east into Lamar Valley to see what was happening there since it seems to be the hotbed of animal sightings. We talked to some people there and they said that they had heard about some wolves about a mile back on the road we just came in on, but naturally we didn’t see any. We continued further into the valley and came across a Grizz about 300 yards off the road – the closest one we’ve seen – and we watched him for about 20 minutes, then started heading back toward home with a few stops along the way to scan the hills for wolves.
It’s a long 90+ minute drive home from Lamar and YNP is no place to be driving after dark. Hitting an animal here is different than squashing a squirrel at home. Here, it could be a bison or elk and that would be bad for all involved. As a matter of fact we did have a closeish call. The Jeep has off-road driving lights and we were using them – luckily my navigator was looking further down the road than I was and she spotted the 3 bison wandering down the road in our lane before I did. It wasn’t as close as she will tell you, but it did increase our heart rates a little. By the way, bison have green eyes in the headlights. Just in case you get that trivia question some day.
Luckily, the rest of the trip was uneventful and we finally slithered into camp at 9:45. Two grilled cheese sandwiches, showers, some TV and this here update and we are done for the night. No plan yet for tomorrow but I’m pretty sure it won’t be early.