Mid-may is one of my favorite times to visit Yellowstone. The bears are up and around, but the tourist have not reached the annoying level yet. Coming in the East entrance, the first place I always check for bears is around Sedge Bay. We did not find any there this trip, but we did snap some pictures of some Barrow’s goldeneye and a “white” buffalo, which was really just mud-covered, while we looked.
As we came approached Indian Pond, you could see some cars off the road up further but Ahnya also spotted a coyote. While we knew there was something to see up ahead, we decided to stop at the pond and take pictures of the coyote as it made its way towards us. We were the only ones there, so Ahnya and I got to enjoy the coyote together.
In making the decision to watch the coyote, we arrived just up the road as the bear was leaving, so we didn’t get many pictures of this bear.
In Yellowstone, you often have to make choices at how long to spend at one animal or location. Sometimes you miss something just up the road, but I rarely regret choosing to stay with an animal longer to watch more of its behavior. I see many people that zip in, snap a few photos and move on. In this case, Ahnya and I got to spend time together without nayone else watching the coyote, versus being part of a smaller crowd watching the bear. Not that we wouldn’t have enjoyed the bear, but why leave something right in front of you to hope there is something beter down the way.
We did end up seing about 7 bears anyway. As we went North from Fishing Village, we saw a car up a little further hit the breaks and stop. Instead of continuing on, we ducked into the pull-out to look. A lot of times, finding a spot to get off the road is key to watching animals in Yellowstone. For the most part, rangers don’t mind you stopping, as long as all 4 tires are outside the white line. Sometimes that means that even if you see a jam ahead it is better to stop when you see a spot you can and walk a little than to drive forward and find there is no parking and be whisked through without being able to get a good look. That doesn’t mean that a lot of peole don’t stop right in the middle of the road or park half in the road, but I would rather try to follow the rules myself than create a jam that people can’t get through.
We found what the person ahead had stopped for, a bear that made its way over the hill and along the ridge next to where we had stopped. The sandhill crane didn’t even seem to mind.
The length of their claws shows one of the many reasons to respect a bear and stay safe.
One of my daughters favorite parts of this trip was watching the bear find a tree and scratch his back.
One of her other favorite parts (she had a few) was just down the road where we watched a blue heron fishing, successfully. It looks like a little cutthroat to me.
The next bear we saw was on a little plateau, so we had to climb on top of the FJ for any pictures. We did see the same bear the next day in a much easier to photograph spot, so I will include those here as well (and a little bird I shot while watching it).
Since it wasn’t too hot for Malaki to be in the car (dogs can’t do much of anything in Yellowstone), we also did a lot more short hikes to see some of the geysers and other thermal features.
Which of course wouldn’t be complete without visiting Old Faithful. While waiting for it to erupt, we watched a little ground squirrel part of the time. We also heard a multitude of people call it a “chipmunk” A chipmunk and a ground squirrel are actually not the same. The best way to tell them apart is to look and see if there are lines all the way to the nose aorund the eyes (chipmunk) or not (ground squirrel). There are different types of ground squirrels, and chipmunks, but I don’t want to get too detailed.
Just around the corner from Old Faithful we found a mother and older cub (they stay with their mom 2-years). We watched them with quite a few other people spread out along the road. Once they went into the woods, most left. We stayed, and a little later they came out and moved in a direction to cross the road. They never did, whether because of the traffic or just because they liked this area, but by staying I was lucky to get some closer shots. Unfortunately, the ones of the cub ended up blurry for some reason, but the ones of the mother turned out ok.
We were hoping they would make their way to a bison carcass that we could see closer to us, but they never did. After the bears left, some visitors did. I was pretty sure there are rules, at least in the winter, about staying away from kills/carcass, but that didn’t stop this group from walking out and posing with it (and is that an open container?). They had backpacks they messed around with, but I could still see the horns after they left so I don’t think they took anything. I can’t even blame this on “tourist” as they appeared local by the plates.
The next morning we started early. Mornings always seem a little more magical. there aren’t as many people, the animals are out, but also the mist, fog and lighting tend to make it more otherworldly.
The last new bear that we saw was fairly far away, across the river at “The Dragon’s Mouth”. We did get to see a crow come in for a tasty not-so-fresh mouse.
On the way out, we did see some rams. They tend to be shaggy this time of year, but I still love seeing them.