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 23, 2013 Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone fall color
Yellowstone fall color

Another trip to Hayden Valley

Headed out early this morning to do the same trip around the upper loop road and down to Hayden valley but in the reverse order of Saturday’s trip. Today was one of those days where I cover a lot of ground, at the proper time of day, but just pretty much come up empty. I may have set some kind of reverse record for wildlife sightings in Hayden Valley. I traversed the entire valley north to south and then again south to north and saw but one lone bison in the distance, no elk, antelope, bison herds, wolves, bears, or coyotes. If you have ever been to the Hayden Valley, you know how rare it is to have it virtually empty of wildlife.

Yellowstone swans
Yellowstone swans
Yellowstone swans and Canada geese
Yellowstone swans and Canada geese

 

 

 

 

 

I did manage to find these swans to photograph. I was excited to see some Canada Geese floating downstream towards the swans, for I seem to recall that the swans are extremely territorial, and will drive off other birds such as the geese. I was ready for some action! But these guys seemed like they were the best of friends.

Roadside black bear cub
Roadside black bear cub

I was rounding a sharp corner and saw this young black bear cub all but in the road grazing on the curbside clover. With no mother in sight and other people stopping and getting within 6 feet of the youngster, for once, I was almost hoping a ranger would come along and break this up before the cub was startled out into the road and struck by a car. At times, his head was only a foot or so from the pavement and he acted as if he didn’t even see or hear the cars only a couple of feet from his head whizzing by, and he was completely oblivious to the growing crowd of people all but reaching out to pet him. I hope he survived this, but with no mother and this lack of fear of traffic and people, it probably doesn’t look like much of a future for this guy.

Bison on the centerline of road
Bison on the centerline

Lastly, a couple more bison shots. I got a kick out of this guy, once again using the centerline of the highway to negotiate his way down the road. They do move at a very slow pace while traveling on the highway, but they can seriously unnerve you as they pass by at only a couple of feet from your vehicle.

Bison
Sharing the road

Especially if you are on a very narrow gravel road, such as the one to the fire tower, and you encounter a fellow like this coming down the road as you head up. At least he was using the shoulder of the road, I assume because there was no yellow centerline on the gravel road.

Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Bison

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

 

 

September 11, 2013 Yellowstone National park

Bison Herd
Bison Herd

Out before 7AM and decided to go back and do Blacktail Meadow dirt road before anyone was up and about.

Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Bison

 

 

 

 

 

 

One small bison herd was grazing up toward the road so I waited for them to get close and got a few shots, but bison are a difficult subject in any kind of light, even early “golden hour” light.

Yellowstone Mule Deer
Yellowstone Mule Deer
Yellowstone Mule Deer
Yellowstone Mule Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, toward the end of the road, I did come upon 3 mulie bucks feeding on a hillside and got some decent shots of these small but nice looking deer.

Back on the main road heading back to Mammoth, I stopped at the scene of the traffic jam I drove past last night to see what the fuss was. There already were several cars and people in the same spot, so I stopped and started up a conversation with one of the more serious looking photographers there. The cause of the jam was a bison carcass about 120 yards off the road in a clearing just below the woods, and that bison had been drawing in bears and a couple of wolves to feed. Nothing there yet this morning though and as I waited with the others, a crew of rangers arrived and moved out to the carcass to move it up into the woods and out of sight of the road. Can’t say as I timed that too well!

Yellowstone Mule Deer
Who goes there?
Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Mule Deer
Yellowstone Mule Deer