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Category Archives: Wyoming

We were up early for breakfast. Unfortunately breakfast wasn’t served until 7 a.m.. On day two our goal was to drive out through the Lamar Valley looking for Buffalo and any other wildlife we could find.

Our understanding was that you needed to be up early to see wildlife but as we started through the valley we encountered a heard of Buffalo and most of them were still sleeping or just starting to wake up. Not too different from humans.

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While I was photographing the sleeping Buffalo I noticed this Ground Squirrel working at building a nest.

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As we drove through the valley clouds were starting to form over the mountains. Most of the animals were quite some distance from the road so there were not many photo opportunities. Quite a few people had scopes which would be the best way to watch wildlife in the valley. Lots of RV’s parked in the pullover points so there were not a lot of opportunities to stop and look at the wildlife.

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On the return trip we encountered a couple of Pronghorn Antelope along the road.

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A short distance away we encountered a heard of Buffalo crossing the road. I think this was part of the heard we encountered earlier in the morning. There were a lot of calves with the heard.

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This adult and calf had the same idea and found that a rock was a good place to take care of an itch.

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The males born last year were still with the heard and were engaged in a little battle. The adult males were no longer with the heard and wouldn’t return until the fall.

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When we started our hike around Devils Tower we notice a number of people pushing carts loaded with gear up the trail. We didn’t pay much attention but I thought it was a little strange that climbers would require so much gear.

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The climbers had built a platform on the tower. There were a couple of climbers climbing on the wall above the platform. When we returned from our walk I started asking questions. It turned out there was an IMAX film crew up on the tower photographing a couple of climbers.IMAX-Film-Crew-Devils-Tower-National-Monument-14-10-_0789

 

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The rest of the film crew had a 3-D camera setup at the base of the tower. They were trying to film a climb when the evening light was on the tower.IMAX-Film-Crew-Devils-Tower-National-Monument-14-10-_0031

As I recall the film is going to be out next year and will be called Wild America. It will be filmed in our national parks and monuments. More photos from Devils Tower can be found on my website.

We left Mammoth Hot Springs early in the morning. The original intent was to drive out through the Lamar Valley but it had been snowing for several days in the mountains so we decided to drive north to the freeway.

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Our goal was to make it to Rapid City with a stop at Devils Tower National Monument. We finally made it to Devils Tower late in the day.

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We drove around a bit then stopped and hiked the trail around the tower.

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We noticed there were quite a few blackened trees in the area. Apparently a year ago they held a controlled burn at the Monument.

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If you look closely on the left side of the wall you can see some Native American prayer clothes. Devils Tower is a sacred site to Native Americans.

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Here sunlight streams through the trees late in the day.Devils-Tower-National-Monument-14-10-_0752

Of course we couldn’t ignore the Prairie Dogs we found as we were leaving the Monument.

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More photos from Devils Tower can be found on my website.

We arrived at Mammoth late in the afternoon on what was a beautiful day. There were storm clouds in the sky but the sun was out as we walked around to look at the hot springs.

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Mammoth-Hot-Springs-Undine-Falls-Yellowstone-National-Park-14-10-_0365We were a little disappointed. When we visited the area fifteen years ago the springs were more active. Many of the beautiful springs have dried up in the intervening years.

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Mammoth-Hot-Springs-Undine-Falls-Yellowstone-National-Park-14-10-_0461Mammoth has a large herd of elk the reside around the park headquarters. This fellow was out resting on the hot springs.

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Our first visit to Mammoth Hot Springs was not very successful since it rained hard the whole time we were there. We decided to drive through the park again and exit at Mammoth Hot Springs. Once again we had beautiful storm clouds in the sky. In several places we could see where the snow plows had been out earlier in the day.Yellowstone-National-Park-14-10-_0260a

We ran into a couple of herds of buffalo on the drive through Yellowstone. This fellow had been rubbing his head on a tree and ended up with a branch stuck on his horns. He looked a little forlorn.Buffalo-Yellowstone-National-Park-14-10-_0849

We stopped at Tower Fall. Unfortunately the trail to the bottom of the falls was closed so our only view was from the top.Tower-Fall-Yellowstone-National-Park-14-10-_0266

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We stopped at Undine Falls for a few photos. This is actually five shots that were merged to create one large photo.Undine-Falls-Yellowstone-National-Park-14-10-_0318

While we were at Undine Falls my wife noticed what appeared to be the remains of a buffalo on the canyon rim.Bones-Yellowstone-National-Park14-10-_0895

Our original plan was to stay in Jackson Hole for several days but when we arrived we discovered that Jackson Hole was not the small town we remembered where you could park in the town square without any problem. It has turned into another playground for the rich and famous. In talking with folks we discovered that most of the people who work in Jackson can’t afford to live in Jackson. We also discovered that the fall colors were early this year and most of the leaves had already fallen on the eastern slope. As we drove through the park we continued to encounter snow although it was not sticking to the ground. We could also see that most of the aspen leaves had fallen.Teton-National-Park-14-10-_0944

Returning to Jackson in the evening we decided to cut our stay short and head back to Yellowstone National Park the next morning.Teton-National-Park-14-10-_0600

In the morning we were up early so we could get out into the park while there was some nice light. We briefly stopped at Mormon Row but the light was not very good.Mormon-Row-14-10-_0826

As we passed Cunningham Cabin the sun came out. We spent quite a bit of time at the Cunningham Cabin photographing it from various angles and changing light conditions. As has been the case throughout our Jackson Hole visit there were other photographers vying the best spots.Cunningham-Ranch-Cabin-14-10-_0073

What a beautiful place to live. On this morning there was a heavy frost on the fence and ground.Cunningham-Ranch-14-10-_0063

The highlight of the visit was when a moose ran along the fence line. This was the only moose we saw on our trip.Moose-14-10-_0126

We drove up the road looking for a little color and stopped at the gate to the Moose Head Ranch to take a few photographs.Moose-Head-Ranch-14-10-_0171

The next stop was the famous Oxbow Bend on the Snake River. Unfortunately the aspen leaves had fallen but there was still a little color in the brush.Oxbow-Bend-14-10-_0209

We stopped several other locations where we could find a little color along the road.Grand-Teatons-14-10-_0257

More photos from the Tetons can be found on my website.

Because of the dramatic sky we encountered on our visit to Yellowstone National Park I decided to convert some of my photos to Black and White to see how they would look.

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley

Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser

Midway Geyser Basin

Midway Geyser Basin

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Just north of Jackson Hole there are the remains of several Mormon homesteads that provide excellent material for photographers. Needless to say there were many photographers in the area and it was almost impossible to get a shot without getting a photographer in the shot.Mormon-Row-14-10-_0610

When we stopped late in the evening there was some nice light on the barns with snow clouds in the background.Mormon-Row-14-10-_0616

The next morning when we stopped on our way back to Yellowstone National Park there were a lot of photographers so we stopped to take just a few photos before heading out.Mormon-Row-14-10-_0032

Having been on the road for almost a week and knowing that it was peak fall color season in the upper Midwest we were getting a little homesick for some fall color. Unfortunately Yellowstone does not offer a lot in the way of colors. Most of the trees are pine.

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We did find some spectacular fall colors in the Lamar Valley. The Cottonwoods along the river were just past their peak and there were a few Aspen turning color.

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There was also some nice color in the grass and brush.

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We also found some nice color in the hills just south of Mammoth Hot Springs. These were mainly Aspen.

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More photos from Yellowstone National Park can be found on my website.

On third day in Yellowstone our goal was to drive over to Mammoth Hot Springs. Yet another gloomy day with low clouds, rain and snow at the higher elevations.Our first stop was Gibbon Falls. This is a beautiful waterfall right along the road.

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We hadn’t gone far when we had our second sighting of a pair of Grizzly Bears. They were well off of the road when we first spotted them but they gradually worked their way toward the road until a tour bus pulled up right in their path. They then turned and headed back toward the woods.

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Driving over the mountains we had a spectacular view of the valley. This area was posted as a Grizzly Bear study area.

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The road was closed between Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth Hot Springs so we had to take the long way round through Tower Junction. As long as we were in the area we decided to drive over to the Lamar Valley. We reached the Lamar Valley, frequently called the American Serengeti because of the wildlife, about noon. Unfortunately we didn’t see much wildlife on this visit. In this photo there were buffalo in the valley and a couple of photographers on the left photographing the herd in the rain.Lamar-Valley-Yellowstone-National-Park-14-9-_2042

I was disappointed that we didn’t see any wolves. On my previous trip a couple of wolves crossed right in front of my car. I quickly pulled over and jumped out for a shot. I was leaning against the car while shooting and noticed that my car was moving down the side of the road. Apparently I was so excited I forgot to put it in park and had to chase it for a way before I could jump in and hit the break. On this trip we had to settle for a Pronghorn Antelope.

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A lone fisherman is working the Lamar River with the Cottonwoods if full fall color in the background.

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After driving through the Lamar Valley we headed toward Mammoth Hot Springs. We encountered this buffalo with a Magpie on its back. There were a couple of Magpies pestering the buffalo.

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When we reached Mammoth Hot Springs it was raining hard. We sprinted to the dining facility and had some hot chili an coffee before going over to the visitors station with a list of questions for the rangers. It continued to rain so we decided to drive back to West Yellowstone. We found out that the road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris Geyser Basin was now open which saved us a long drive back through Tower Junction.

We did see a few Mountain Goats. If you look really closely you might see them along the ridge line on the right side of the photo. There was a Yellowstone Association Bus at the pullout with a telescope setup to watch the goats. If it wasn’t for that we probably wouldn’t have noticed them on the ridge.

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A short time later we passed Rustic Falls. There isn’t a great view of the falls from the pullout at the top so we had to turn around and drive back a few hundred yards to get a good shot of it.

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The rest of the trip was uneventful except for the construction delays and muddy roads in the construction area. More photos from Yellowstone National Park can be found on my website.