We passed through Mammoth en route to Lamar Valley. Rangers were there protecting the tourists from getting too close to the elk.
Along the route we stopped to check out a petrified tree-
Driving alongside a pronghorn-
Then we got our heart strings pulled… driving along we came upon cars and animal paparazzi.
The kids got confident to go up to the photographers and ask “what are we looking at?”
The night before, a driver had hit a bison and killed it. The rangers came and moved the body far from the road. Apparently three bison stayed near the body, apparently guarding it all night. When we got there, the one was curled up on the ground around the body.
The photographers were there waiting for action to happen. They knew that other animals would soon come in to eat the dead bison.
We traveled on with sad hearts. Soon coming upon another bison traffic jam. Somehow we lucked out and always ended up being at the front of the line, getting best view of the animals.
Our next bathroom pit stop had the kids playing along the river. Every stop more breathtaking than the last.
The kids liked stopping at the Montana- Wyoming border- being in two states at once.
Another MUCH needed exploration and burning of energy. We stopped in Lamar Valley and let the kids run along the river, skipping stones and balancing while walking across fallen tree.
Ciela managed to fall in while trying to reach for a rock she wanted to gather. Now we had a wet kid, with soaking wet shoes, pants and shirt- in cold weather. We stripped her down and rung out the pants, allowing them to dry while tied to the rear view mirror as we drove.
Some of us LOVED the views.
On the way back to mammoth we stopped by to see the bison guarding the dead body. He know was standing over it, resting his head on the body.
It was hard not to be moved by the act and made us recognize that they clearly had a bond with each other.
Back in Mammoth, we got a surprise show of Mac Daddy (the alpha massive elk) chasing off Big Boy (the slightly smaller elk who was always trying to get in on the herd.)
Then Mac Daddy just stood in the road so we could get a close up view of his massiveness.
Then he let out a bugle to be clear Big Boy know it was his herd.
Dinner with elk females hanging nearby.
We realized that we had a long several hour drive back to West Yellowstone (and return the following morning) and we knew we wanted to visit Lamar valley at dawn… so we checked into a cabin at Mammoth. The only thing they had left was a tiny room with two queen beds, a full shower and no heat. We slept in our winter coats and laid horizontally three to a queen bed.
Everyone was ecstatic not to have to drive all those hours and loved the spontaneity of sleeping with no change of clothes. After procuring some tooth brushes, we walked around exploring Mammoth. The elk battle between the two boys- still going on.
We had fun parking the car to get a front seat view. Loved hearing the bugling battles.