May 27, 2018 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

A Beary Good Day in the Tetons

Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather
Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather

I arrived at the Gros Ventre Campground in Kelly, Wyoming, just outside Jackson Hole, on Thursday, apparently bringing the unsettled weather with me.

Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather
Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather

Storm clouds, a bit of sun, rain, hail … just can’t seem to escape this kind of weather this year. Does combine at times to produce some dramatic shots though. The above image is the scene as I exit the Gros Ventre Campground on what turned out to be a very rare, exciting day in the Grand Teton National Park.

Bear #399
Bear #399

Bear #399

Bear #399
Bear #399

( For a little background of Bear #399, arguably the most famous bear in the world, click here.)

On Saturday of the Memorial Day Weekend, I had originally planned to just stay home and avoid the holiday crowds, but at 5:30 in the morning when I caught a glimpse of a little bit of sun through the storm clouds at sunrise, I decided I would venture out, hoping the holiday crowds might be sleeping in..

Bear #399
Bear #399

I drove about thirty miles north on the main road to an area referred to as Pilgrim Flats and couldn’t believe my eyes when I spied a very healthy looking grizzly with two large cubs grazing in the flats not more than hundred yards off the side of the road.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

And more amazing yet, early morning golden light and no rain!

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I was able to position myself with the sun to my back and couldn’t believe that the bears seemed very content to do their thing and were oblivious to myself and some other early morning photographers who were able to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

When Mom stopped grazing and called the cubs in to nurse, I just couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have abandoned my plan to stay home on this holiday weekend.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

Don’t think I would want to ever see those claws up close and personal.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

Very healthy two year old cubs and obviously, a very experienced mother.

Bear #399
Bear #399

After spending the better part of two hours with these guys, and with crowds gathering, I departed Pilgrim Flats and continued up the highway to see what else I might run into.

A Second Encounter with Bear #399 and Cubs
A Second Encounter with Bear #399 and Cubs

On my return south on the highway, about two miles north of where I originally encountered these bears, I saw them coming out of the woods heading down to a small pond and pulled over to see if I could get any different type of shots. But by this time traffic was getting very heavy and my stopping started a huge ” bear jam ” on the highway. Just incredible how quickly the road backed up and people stopped in the middle of the road, on both sides, people darting in and out of traffic, just chaotic, and not my cup of tea. So, I left #399 and her cubs to the holiday crowds and hurried home to get my shots on the computer to see if I captured anything worthwhile in my early morning encounter with this star of the bear world.

An Obsessed Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

While I have had other birds, at other campgrounds, be attracted to their reflection in the motorhome’s mirrors, I have never run into one as obsessed as this female Mountain Bluebird.

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

She shows up at sunrise and returns all throughout the day to try and discourage this interloper she sees in the mirror, trying to intrude on her territory.

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

Other times I have observed this kind of behavior, it has always been a male bird and I have never seen one so aggressively fight off this perceived intruder. She was making such a mess of the mirror that I finally had to go and wrap a plastic bag over the mirror, whereupon she turned her attention to the other other mirror, that she had previously ignored. Now both mirrors are wrapped in plastic, but she still shows up several times a day to check on the intruders she knows must be there but that she can no longer see.

Next post, another bear encounter at the same location, but a different bear!

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September 11, 2016 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

The Tetons Just After Sunrise
The Tetons Just After Sunrise

Return to Gros Ventre Campground and the Tetons

From My Dinette Window
From My Dinette Window

I arrived at the Gros Ventre Campground last Wednesday and got myself set up in the “A” Loop, where the sites are mostly open, allowing me to get some use out of my solar panels as well as clear satellite access. When I awoke after my first night here, I noticed the folks across the road from me packing up and leaving their site, a site I thought looked all but perfect to me. So, I moved across the road and as you can see in the image above that this has got to be about as good as it gets. That is the peak of Grand Teton just showing in the center of that image. The flat meadow just past the picnic table is an area where I have seen many moose in the past. I just may end up staying here a little longer than I had initially planned.

Grand Teton and Mount Owen
Grand Teton and Mount Owen
Grand Teton
Grand Teton
Mount Owen
Mount Owen

A crystal clear blue sky day presented an opportunity to get some long distance shots of the peaks of some of the mountains.

Grand Teton from Another Angle
Grand Teton from Another Angle

Here, as in Rocky Mountain National Park, the beetle damage to the conifers at higher elevations is really making it’s mark. You can see the many dead trees up around the peaks in the images above. The damage is not quite so extensive at lower elevations.

Grand Teton Reflection
Grand Teton Reflection

Just an hour or so after sunrise, the reflections in the beaver ponds at Schwabachers Landing provide an opportunity for some nice images.

Tetons Just After Sunrise
Tetons Just After Sunrise
Tetons Just After Sunrise
Tetons Just After Sunrise

This is one of my all time favorite spots to photograph in the west, a place I am drawn back to everytime I visit the Tetons. Still waiting for a moose to show up in one of the ponds, so I will keep coming back until one finally does. Just a couple ducks today though.

The Tetons Just After Sunrise
The Tetons Just After Sunrise
Tetons Just After Sunrise
Tetons Just After Sunrise

I most likely will hang around here until the aspens have turned ( they are starting already in places ) so I can come back down here when the trees have turned gold and there is some snow on the peaks.

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October 6, 2015 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Mating on his Mind
Mating on his Mind

A Gathering of Moose

The last few days, I have not had to venture far to locate moose as the three or four cows that frequent the Gros Ventre Campground have been attracting several different males. Seems to be somethings in the air.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Young Rivals
Young Rivals
Young Rivals
Young Rivals
Young Rivals
Young Rivals

These two young bulls have been hanging around for a couple of days now and every now and then pretend to challenge one another, but the skirmishes are more like just play jousting and they actually spend more time nuzzling up to each other than doing any serious fighting.

Young Rivals
Young Rivals

The images above the one above were taken very early in the morning and this one later in the afternoon where they were still more into nuzzling than fighting.

Young Bull and Cow
Young Bull and Cow

Another bull makes an entrance but this cow wasn’t very interested and eventually actually chased him off.

Bull Moose
Bull Moose
Bull Moose
Bull Moose
Bull Moose
Bull Moose

Yet another bull makes the trek up to the campground.

Bull Moose Challenge Posture
Bull Moose Challenge Posture
Bull Moose Challenge Posture
Bull Moose Challenge Posture

When you see a bull making direct eye contact with you, and then they start doing this exaggerated rocking stiff legged strut, it means it might be a good idea to find a tree or your car to hide behind. This guy stopped as soon as I backed off and got into some nearby trees. I wasn’t actually all that close to him, these images were taken with a 600mm lens, but still better to be safe than sorry.

Missing a Paddle
Missing a Paddle

And then this guy showed up! Without a doubt, the largest bull seen so far. Really would have liked to see the bull that broke this guy’s left paddle off, because this guy was huge.

Bull Moose
Bull Moose
Moved to the Sidelines
Moved to the Sidelines

When the big guy appeared on the scene, the young bulls that had been accompanying the cows quickly retreated and spent their time grazing in the shade, never even considered challenging the big bull, just quietly moved to the sidelines.

Amorous Intentions
Amorous Intentions
Mating on his Mind
Mating on his Mind

Kind of obvious what he has on his mind.

Yet Another Blue Sky Day

Grand Tetons Panorama
Grand Tetons Panorama

The image above is made up of five photos stitched together in PS. I liked the low hanging clouds/fog lifting off from the Snake River.

Mormon Row Homestead
Mormon Row Homestead
Mormon Row Homestead
Mormon Row Homestead

Later in the afternoon some threatening skies were moving down from the north, giving some nice lighting conditions for this homestead on Mormon Row.

Pronghorns Too

Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Buck

Every morning as I travel across to Mormon Row from the campground, I manage to see several pronghorns grazing in the area. Today they finally were close enough to get some decent shots.

Checking on is Ladies
Checking on is Ladies
Pronghorns
Pronghorns

This buck was doing his due diligence, checking to see if any of his harem were ready for him.

Pronghorns at Dawn
Pronghorns at Dawn
Young Pronghorn
Young Pronghorn

This young pronghorn was grazing along the entry road to the campground as I headed out in the morning.

Pronghorn Buck
Pronghorn Buck

There is no shortage of pronghorns everywhere around the park this year.

Final Thoughts on the Gros Ventre Campground

Gros Ventre Campsite
Gros Ventre Campsite

When I arrived here this year the campground was all but full and I had the misfortune of being parked next to a few inconsiderate campers. One of the volunteers told me that the campground was full for 33 days this year and nearly full on many other nights. Gros Ventre has always been a place you could pretty much not have to worry about getting in to … but  ( like Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone ) not any more, I guess.

It is a very large campground spread out over several different loops, one of which does have sites with utilities. I have never stayed in that loop. All sites are back in and most are a little short for a big rig. Most sites are also in the cottonwoods, though I asked for and got a site that was in the open so I could utilize my solar and get satellite reception. The primitive sites go for $24 a night, half that with a seniors pass. This campground grew on me as my stay went on, the sites are fairly well spaced and there are no lights, so you can really appreciate the night skies, unless you have an inconsiderate neighbor that decides to leave his spotlights on.

And as the crowds thinned and the moose replaced the departing campers, this place really became quite enjoyable.

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October 2, 2013 Shut Out of Teton National Park

SmallRV andToadMooseOn the Road Heading South to Espanola, New Mexico

Left Gros Ventre CG around 9 AM, skies clear today and you can actually see the tops of the Tetons for the first time today, YEA for the government shutdown!!

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

Who in their right mind would want to stay here and tour the National Park on such a gorgeous fall day as this?

The trip south on Route 191 was a very pleasant trip with interesting scenery for the most part, not much traffic and mostly good road. I had planned to stay at a private campground in Vernal, Wyoming, but passed it by when it turned out to be located right in the heart of the city’s commercial strip. That was around 5 PM so it left me only two hours of daylight to find another place to stop. I didn’t find one so ended up pulling off the side of the road somewhere short of Roosevelt, Utah, for the night. Got no sleep since an 18 wheeler decided to pull in and run his diesel all night right next to me.