Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Elks & Bisons & Bears, oh my!

Yellowstone National Park
The following day we headed for Yellowstone, which boarders the Grands Tetons. Just driving casually stopping at any points of interest, just really enjoying being surrounded by mountains minus the potential presence of bears. Not expecting this sort of drama on our drive we were confused to come round a corner and see a big pine tree wobbling unusually and then a dust cloud rising from beneath. While driving slowly anyways as Amy was scoping the area for wildlife, we slowed down even further and Amy looked out to the right down the steep slope off the road to see a small workers truck completely smashed into a tree in the forest below. We didn't see the car leave the road, but only seconds ahead of us it had gone straight and flew into the ditch at a slight bend in the road. I jumped out and clambered down the five or so meter slope to find a guy sitting on the bank and a wrecked truck. Somehow this guy was lucky, only a few scratches. Amy was up on the road frantically trying to get a bar of reception only to made it through to 911 emergency once and cut out immediately. She eventually sent another passerby for help as I helped the man up the hill to the road and we waited for fire and ambulance. The man was very grateful for us stopping, and after waiting for help and making statements to the police, etc., we were off on our way, very cautiously.

That's a lot of snow for May!
Yellowstone National Park was a dizzying myriad of nature at its best with unbelievable landscapes, rampant wildlife and unique geothermal activity, making for a busy and absorbing three days. We were surprised to learn the road we used to enter the park only opened days earlier, understandably when driving over the pass with heaps of snow still present off the road. We spent three full-on days in the park in and out of the car journeying around from tip to toe and Yellowstone put on a show for us, as it would for any visitor.

The super volcano beneath really makes for some colourful and explosive hotpools, mudpools and gysers, and we saw everyone of them! We saw frozen lakes, snow capped mountains, beautiful running rivers and streams, the stunning Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, waterfalls, forests and rolling meadows. But what stood out even more was the abundance of wildlife. Herds of deer, elk and bison were everywhere! Heading to our campground on the first day, we managed to get lost on the one of two roads in the park andfound oursleves in 'Bison Country'. Impressed to see herds of bison, but more so the grizzly bear out for a walk. He traveled from a field across a river and then casually crossing the road and heading up to see some of the mudpools we were thinking of visiting too! We changed our mind!

Bison going for a walk!
Pulling out of the campground the next morning we ran into a herd of at least 30 bison walking down the road through a gorge. With them coming towards us, we were forced to stop to let them pass! There was a long line of traffic behind them, and eventually one car turned around and told us they had be slowly following the herd for an hour! They're not small animals, so they definitely got right of way causing some traffic congestion. We agree this was probably one of the coolest experiences we had in Yellowstone!

Bison and their calves

Making sure we didn't miss Montana, we nipped over to "West Yellowstone" just across the boarder, collected supplies, experienced a rustic mountain town and continued Amy's obsession of taking thousands of photos of bison, this time along with some cute little bright orange baby ones.

We managed to spend the next day running into hundreds of elk, just chilling out in front of stores, gyesers etc., a mum and two grizzly bear cubs, and a coyote! On our way to seeing the famous Old Faithful Geyser, we had the craziest "small work experience." We happened to run into a Canadian guy that one of our flatmates in NZ picked up hitch-hiking and ended up staying with us for a few nights in Christchurch, crazy!

"Forever West" Wyoming
 Making our way to Colorado we headed to Cody, Wy, named after 'Buffalo Bill' unfortunately not quite in season yet so we missed the rodeos. From there we had a beautiful two days driving on back roads through the heart of Wyoming, that meant a whole lot of nothing, but it was spectacular. Stopping in the middle of nowhere at a scody as cafe we ate along side some real life cowboys, spurred boots and all! Quick look around Rawlins where we stayed for the night. Found a wonderful little museum and met some super friendly townsfolk. Got a good recommendation and had a nice driving break, stopping at Saratoga springs, a super hot free pool that was too hot to withstand, but had a good  dip 
                                                                                        and met some friendly locals as well.
Campground in Yellowstone National Park


  1. Im really loving this Blog a day thing.

    Love Mum

  2. Wow, what drama you happened upon! Yellowstone does look gorgeous. And it really is a small world isn't it?