October 1, 2013 Feds Shut Down Teton National Park

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

Wouldn’t you know, today is the first day since my arrival that I woke up to clearing skies, sunshine and a federal government shutdown. All the entrances to the park have been blockaded and the campgrounds told to boot everybody out. I figured I would head up Route 89/191 and would at least be able to watch for moose around the oxbow area and north past Colter Bay, and be able to get some nice landscape shots of the Tetons from that vantage point. On the internet it was noted that the highway through the park was kept open during the last shutdown in 1995, though all the access roads into the park from this route were blocked off.

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

 

However, I was forcefully told by a park ranger that there would be NO travel on these state roads during this shutdown.

 

 

 

Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison courtship

 

 

 

 

 

 

After being turned around by the rangers at the Moran entrance to Grand Teton National Park, I encountered a large herd of bison and stopped to take some shots. These guys were part of a large herd of at least 200 animals and they seemed to be moving north towards Yellowstone with a purpose. This could well have been a scene from the old west.

Teton pronghorn in autumn
Teton pronghorn in autumn
Teton pronghorn in autumn
Teton pronghorn in autumn

Heading back towards the Gros Ventre campground I came upon a couple of pronghorn bucks traveling separately along the edge of the woods by the Gros Ventre River.

Pronghorn challenge
Pronghorn challenge
Pronghorn battle
Pronghorn battle

 

 

 

 

 

When they got within 30 feet of each other, they squared off and began a pretty serious skirmish that finally ended with one chasing the other out of the meadow they were in.

Jackson from Teton Pass
Jackson from Teton Pass

After grabbing lunch at the motorhome, and with the park now out of bounds, I decided to go back through Jackson, up over the Teton Pass on Route 22 to Victor, Idaho, take Route 31 south from there to Route 26 east along the Snake River and the Palisades Reservoir, then to complete the loop, 89 to 191/189 north back to Jackson. An interesting ride ( note to self and other RV’ers, be advised that Route 22 up and over the Teton Pass is not one I would want to attempt with my motorhome, a very long steep grade ) through rich Idaho farmland, scenic canyons, and the Snake River Valley.

Autumn colors Idaho
Autumn colors Idaho
Autumn colors Idaho
Autumn colors Idaho

 

 

I found some surprisingly colorful foliage enroute in the area of the palisades reservoir.

 

 

 

 

Abandoned Idaho farmhouse
Abandoned Idaho farmhouse

Along with this abandoned farmhouse. Made it home just before dark, and though it turned out to be a little longer day trip than I had anticipated, I do believe it was worth the trip.

Teton cabins
Teton cabins
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison

 

 

 

 

 

LotOfFemales3Image
Pronghorn harem
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison
Teton Bison

 

 

 

September 28, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

Teton elk
Teton elk

Snow flurries, sleet, and dark, threatening skies kept me at home this morning. Finally the weather lifted enough to go out around 4.

Aspens and dark skies
Aspens and dark skies
Aspens
Aspens

 

 

 

 

The one nice thing about the continual dark skies this week is that every now and then, when there is a distant break in the clouds and a little sunlight actually gets through, it can make for some dramatic shots.

Took the park road up to Colter again with a side trip up to the top of Signal Mountain, quite a view!

Mule deer
Mule deer

 

A mule deer buck sporting a pretty nice set of antlers.

 

 

 

Teton bull moose
Teton bull moose
Teton bull moose
Teton bull moose

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got these almost humorous shots of a bull moose having a bad hair day, or maybe he was bringing this stuff home to learn basket weaving, I don’t know, but he made no attempt to shake the grasses off in the half hour I spent with him.

Laughing moose
Laughing moose

In this image, he almost seems to be laughing at himself.

Just before leaving the park, a little north of the Visitor’s center, a lone bull elk came flying out of the woods and came towards the road looking for a safe place to cross. I managed to get a few shots of him silhouetted against the evening sky, but unfortunately, he just wouldn’t run all the way up the bank and pose in profile.

Teton elk
Teton elk
Teton elk
Teton elk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grazing moose
Grazing moose

 

 

 

 

September 25, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

Mountaintop
Mountaintop

Well, it was a bit of a relief to wake up this morning and find there was no snow covering the ground! Very grey and overcast with very limited visibility though, so I stayed in and started to get caught up on blog and photo work.

Around noon I looked out and it looked like it was clearing a bit, time to go out and see if there are any moose around. Headed back towards Jackson Hole on 22 and then took the turnoff on Spring Gulch Road, a way to bypass downtown Jackson Hole and pass through pastureland instead, where some moose or elk might be lurking ( they weren’t ).

Moose and calf bedded down
Moose and calf bedded down

 

I got this shot of a moose and her calf bedded down for the day by the edge of a small creek along the Moose-Wilson Road.

 

 

Entered the park with the Tetons concealed by clouds and fog determined to find wildlife to shoot. I was soon distracted from this mission when the clouds and fog began to break and revealed teasing glimpses of the Tetons.

Storm lifting
Storm lifting

 

Mountaintop
Mountaintop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spent a couple of hours watching this in and out action of the clouds and the mountains with even a bit of blue sky popping into view every now and then.

Drove the length of the park road and then on north to Colter Bay before turning around to retrace my steps. The two small bands of elk, bedded down for the afternoon, that I passed on the way out, I was hoping would be up and around when I came back through.

Bull elk in snowstorm
Bull elk in snowstorm

 

By the time I got back to them though, the snow had started falling again and the heavy grey skies were just not providing enough light to get any good shots.

 

 

 

Through the gloom though, I observed an interesting event taking place so I pulled over to watch as a bull elk, with his harem of 6 or 7 cows, was calling out to another bull elk and his single cow on the opposite side of the road.

Bull elk
The Challenge

 

The lone cow seemed to want to join up with the other small group of cows and repeatedly tried to cross the road, but cars and her escorting bull elk kept discouraging her.

Stealing a cow
Stealing a cow

 

 

 

Finally, she made a bolt for it, the bull elk followed her and was immediately met by the other bull elk and I thought surely there was going to be some great action here. The two bulls seemed to be of about the same size    and  I assumed the one would not give up his   female without a fight, but that is exactly what  he did,  as he made no attempt to challenge   the other bull as he escorted the lone female back to his harem. He just stood there, looking a little dejected and discouraged as his would be honey left him for another guy. really wish there had been enough light and less falling snow to have been able to get some better images of all this, but it still was fun to observe this little drama.

It was a dark and snowing quite heavily as I carefully made my way back home.

Teton color
Teton color
Bull elk
Triumphant

 

September 21, 2013 Yellowstone National Park

View from Mammoth looking south
View from Mammoth looking south

Once again, I traversed the upper loop road from Mammoth to Tower, out to the Lamar Valley, and then on to Hayden Valley, then back to Norris, then home to Mammoth Campground.

Bison Jam
Bison Jam
Bison Jam
Bison Jam

 

 

 

 

I encountered a couple of bison jams along the way and a few scattered elk. Though unable to get any photos of him because of the distance, I was able to observe the grizzly that has been camped out on a carcass on the far shore of Swan Lake for the past three days.

Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got a few nice predawn shots of the bull elk in town, controlling his ever growing harem of cows, going out over the hills to drive a stray back to the harem if she wandered too far to graze.

 

Campground elk
Campground elk
Campground elk
Campground elk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the late afternoon, while I was at the computer processing today’s shots, I heard a bull bugling just outside the campground and it sounded like he was heading my way. Sure enough, I looked out the windshield and there he was cutting through the site directly in front of me and heading for the main road. I gathered up my camera and shot out the door after him and managed to get a couple of decent shots of him before he disappeared over the hill, apparently looking for some company.

Bison eyeing bus
To ram or not to ram
Bison walking road
Traveling the centerline
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs

 

 

 

 

 

Yellowstone bison
Yellowstone bison
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk
Mammoth Bull Elk

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain bluebird
Mountain bluebird
Cottonwoods Lamar Valley
Cottonwoods Lamar Valley