Day 12- Exploring Yellowstone

Renting the minivan was paramount for our travel through Yellowstone. There are so many windy roads and so many times we pulled off on the side of the toad to watch animal life- BigE would have never been able to maneuver it all.

We left our hotel at 6:00am and drove in the snow into the park, entering at West Entrance. Driving north on 89 and east on Norris Canyon road, our intention was to go directly to Lamar Valley but found the Grand Loop was closed going north and had to abort that mission. So instead we headed south to a Hayden Valley in search of the Grizzly that had taken down a massive elk the week before.

Sure enough, like all things in the park, we easily found him by the barrage of animal paparazzis along the road.

The video of the injured (broken leg) elk kill by the Grizzly was caught on camera by a grandma:

And photos all over Instagram of the Grizzly-

By the time we arrived, the original bear had eaten his share and abandoned the kill. Two other Grizzlies, one very dark, were eating and guarding what was left.

It was a beautiful spot along the Yellowstone river.

paparazzi were everywhere, trying to capture a battle between the bears or whatever animals came to get to the kill.

My SLR camera body broke somewhere in transit- likely getting tossed around in the cabinet in the RV. Major bummer for shooting wildlife in the distance. But we learned to use the binoculars with iPhone-

I have Mica and Franco to thank- for looking around them and not on their phones (which they don’t have) – and spotting this vertebrae on the path where we were standing and watching the Grizzly. There were people all around us and no one had seen it.

We think it is an elk vertebrae but the verdict is out.

Our first close encounter with Bison on the side of the road-

Even though we drove 8-12 hours each day while in Yellowstone (I didn’t keep track and hard to know because of all of the stops,) we never felt it because the views along the way were so spectacular. We kept stopping to take photos. In the morning it was COLD… but by midday the kids were content in light jackets.

Our breakfast spot along the Yellowstone River- The boys loved watching the tiny duck like birds that bobbed and stayed under water feeding and then popped up randomly in a nearby spot.

Our first buffalo traffic jam was epic. (We would soon encounter these multiple times throughout the day but didn’t know yet.)

We decided this was a good spot to have a snack and watch the bison in the pasture below.

From there we stopped by the Yellowstone Canyon and waterfalls. We were able to drive up to this view from above. Park and hike around the opposite side of the canyon.

Then we took a hike along this side of the canyon. A much needed burning of energy. We took an extra long hike in both directions.

From there we had to decide- since grand loop was closed, would we stop for the day or drive all around the park to get to Lamar valley… we voted on moving on.

It was a 110 miles and 2.5 hour drive (because the grand loop was closed and had to go all the way around.)

Pulling into Mammoth was a fantastic surprise- a giant elk with a massive elk was napping in the sun.

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