A September 2005 trip
to Yellowstone National Park by Slaney
Quote: This was the question asked of Rangers during our week in Yellowstone National Park. Their answer was always the same "the best time to see bears or any wildlife is early morning and late evening."
We knew this, but only the bears were aware of this time frame.
Drive slowly through the park, keeping alert at all times. If you spot any wildlife, pull over so that others can pass. When you exit your vehicle, do not slam the door, as this will frighten any wildlife. Don't stalk the animals and do not get too close--they are WILD animals, not domesticated ones.
Hotel | "Ogden Days Inn"
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 5, 2006
Days Inn Ogden
3306 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, Utah 84401
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 7, 2006
Lake Condominiums at Big Sky
1500 Turkey Leg Rd
Big Sky, Montana 59716
Restaurant | "Blue Moon Bakery"
It is a small café with only about half a dozen tables inside. There are a few more outside, but it was a little cold for open-air dining.
This bakery makes their own pizzas, bread, bagels, soups, sandwiches, salads and pastries. A 10-inch cheese-and-tomato pizza was $6.95, with extra toppings at $1 each. Beer, wine, soft drinks, and coffee are also available.
They are open daily from 7am to 10pm and offer a delivery service as well as collect your own takeaway. I was never full during our visits, and there were people in and out all the time.
We ate here on two separate occasions, and there were always plenty of young, untidy people about, both behind the counter and talking to the servers; they all had long hair and reminded us of hippies. The place was clean and tidy, and you could see the pizza being made in the kitchen.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 5, 2006
Blue Moon Bakery Meadow Village
3090 Pine Drive
Meadow Village, Big Sky
Restaurant | "M R Hummers"
One entrance is inside the Mall, with a second at the other side of the room, where there are large windows overlooking a patio with Lone Mountain and ski lift in the background. There are wooden picnic tables and benches on this patio, ideal for the skiing crowd. Inside there is a television over the bar, stone floors, dark wood tables, and chairs, and the room is very dimly lit.
Open for both lunch and dinner, the lunch menu is different to the evening one, but both offer a good selection of cooked meals as well as sandwiches. Evening meals include steaks, pork ribs, prime rib, fresh fish, and Alaskan King Crab. The lunch menu offers pasta, burgers, and sandwiches. A children’s menu is also available. As this is a pub, alcohol as well as soft drinks and coffee, are served. The food and service were very good, and the portions plentiful.
Mountain Village, Big Sky
Attraction | "Hidden Falls"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 5, 2006
Lava Lake-Gallatin Valley
Off Highway 191 crossing Cascade Creek
Big Sky, Montana
Ousel Falls Park Trail
Ousel Falls Road, Meadow Village
Yellowstone National Park has deer, elk, bison, goats and antelope, grizzly and black bear, 50 species of other animals and 311 species of birds. Some species are threatened (bald eagles, grizzly and lynx) and endangered (whooping crane and grey wolf), and we were hoping to see as many animals as possible – especially a bear.
As we entered the park we passed areas with steam rising from the ground and there across the river were two bison feeding - our first sight of these beautiful animals. We immediately stopped, grabbed our cameras and made our way as close as we dared, bearing in mind the rule of not getting too close to annoy wild animals. We were there ages snapping them as they placidly made their way to the river for a drink grazing as they went. It wasn’t until later that we realised we probably should not have walked on the ground where we did as we had to avoid all the small geysers in the ground.
Our next sight of wild animals was about 8am on our first full day in the park in the Mammoth area. We were eating breakfast outside the Visitors Centre and saw a large herd of Elk. We went to get a closer look and although they were on the grass and I walked past them on the pavement, a Ranger told me I was too close. Apparently one had charged someone the day before, so Rangers were extra watchful. All the females were lying on the grass, there were also young ones with them. Suddenly a male with large antlers appeared and started bugling, then another male was seen moving quickly away.
We saw so many Elk and Bison that day we got quite blasé about them – especially
the Elk, beautiful as they are.
Throughout our visit we saw quite a number of animals including Antelope. We even started a "jam" when we spotted a coyote and pulled over to watch. This made other people stop and there was a crowd before long. Suddenly an RV went past at speed hooting his horn and the coyote ran away, leaving everyone disgusted with this ill mannered driver.
In Lamar Valley, we came across a group of vehicles and people, including a Ranger, with spotting scopes and binoculars watching three wolves in the far distance. They were moving quickly down the valley and kept popping up above the grass. Despite being shown where they were a number of times, only one of our party was lucky enough to spot them. We did however, see one lone wolf near Norris and were thrilled.
We were also thrilled at seeing Bald Eagles, there were so many we saw them every day and stopped to watch each time. There were also beautiful Grey Jays which fed from our hands as well as the more timid Blue Jays.
Rocky Mountain Long Horn Goats (the Ranger informed us) were causing a jam on one of the passes. They were just meandering up the road without a care in the world while all the traffic slowed as people stopped to look, then they casually jumped on the wall and walked down the sheer cliff face at the other side.
Bison were everywhere, and we never got tired of seeing them. Some were on their own, one made his way slowly down the road past our vehicle with a stream of other vehicles following. There were also huge herds grazing with mothers keeping watchful eyes on their offspring. They looked so placid and we felt we could just hug them, but you have to remember they are wild animals and keep your distance!
Some people, however, are oblivious of the danger and we saw people with such long lenses so close to Elk they must have had a really good shot of the inside of its nostril – they could never have got anything else. One man was actually stalking one Elk – then people wonder why they get injured.
The main animal we wanted to see was a bear. We also wouldn’t have minded seeing a moose, but unfortunately both species were nowhere to be seen and we were quite disappointed.
Our last day in the park saw us doing the full figure of eight tour. In Hayden Valley, we came across a lot of cars at the roadside and people sitting on the grass looking through binoculars. An Elk was lying dead some distance away and ravens were feeding on it. The people were actually sitting patiently waiting for bears to come and feed. Had we had more time we would have joined the vigil, but time was getting on and we had a 90 minute journey to our accommodation after leaving the park and a long journey ahead of us the next morning.
West Yellowstone, one of the 5 gateways to Yellowstone National Park, is a small town with only 912 permanent residents and numerous hotels to accommodate the many visitors to the park.
There are also many souvenir shops, selling everything from clothes to carved animals.
The Heritage Park, or Oregon Short Line Terminus Historic District, originates from the Short Line Railway, and here are the historic Union Pacific Buildings, including the Baggage Claim building and the Dining Lodge. These timber framed buildings are being preserved and the area can be toured by following the erected signs.
As we drove down the main street on the way to Big Sky, we noticed a small diner called Mountain Mikes. The name caught our imagination and we stopped for coffee. The interior was wooden and small with about eight tables. We ordered coffee and noticed a couple in the window eating a huge plateful of food which looked very good. We promised ourselves a meal there one night, but never went.
Apart from hotels, cafes and souvenir shops, we noticed a place offering snow mobile tours to Yellowstone NP – obviously hoping some summer visitors would be returning in the winter. The snow is so severe in this area, this is the only way you can access the park in winter.
On the main street, just past the turn off to the park entrance, in the middle of the road is a large statue of a bear and an advertising board for the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre. This is an educational centre and an interpreter teaches about wolf and grizzly behaviour. www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org
Having been warned about the police being very strict on the speed limit we proceeded with caution down Highway 191, towards Bozeman – the area being part of Yellowstone National Park – to Big Sky. This road is very straight and it is easy to exceed the speed limit, but we didn’t see any police - and we travelled that road many times to and from Yellowstone National Park. As we travelled we were always looking for wildlife (you tend to get into the habit once you have been in the park) and were rewarded on a number of occasions, spotting coyote and deer.
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