Wild and Wonderful

Yellowstone's Enduring Winter

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Yellowstone National Park, USA - March 2018

A superb trip to the world's first national park - Yellowstone. March is an interesting time of the year to visit. There was still abundant snow in most parts of the park, and daytime temperature fluctuated around freezing. Some days it was promisingly sunny, but on others blizzards blew through piling up more snow. Many of the prey animals were weakened by months of poor grazing, just trying to hang on until spring. A sign of warmer times was an early Brown Bear which we were lucky enough to see, the first to emerge from hibernation on the Northern Range this year.

 

The first part of my trip was Natural Habitat's "Yellowstone Wolf Quest", superbly guided by Kurt Johnson and Justin Gibson. We saw an abundant array of wildilfe, including the fantastic Brown Bear sighting and a number of wolf packs, although these were all quite distant and challenging to photograph. The logistics and organisation of this small group tour were outstanding.

 

In second half of the trip I was privately guided by one of Yellowstone's most expert guides, MacNeil Lyons of Yellowstone Insight. MacNeil's amazing bushcraft skills were amply demonstrated on the first day when he found a fallen Bison about half-a-mile of the road, down in a steep valley. We visited this carcass every day, and watched as Ravens, Eagles, Coyotes and two Wolves devoured the whole Bison over a five day period! But the highlight of the trip was a fantastic encounter with the Wapiti Lake Wolf Pack on the last morning. At a distance of 330m (close by Yellowstone standards!) we watched all 16 wolves as they ran around in the snow!

 

In total I saw approximately 40 wolves from five packs - 8 Mile, Wapiti Lake, Mollie's, Lamar Canyon and Junction Butte.