Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yellowstone Wildflowers

I'm not sure if it is the warm weather of the past month or the amount of snow melt from the heavy snowfall of last winter but the wildflowers are wonderful at this time.  I took a short drive before work on Monday and took these pictures on the north slope of Mount Washburn.

 The generic name for these flowers is "little sunflower".   If you look closely at the next picture you can see scattered blue patches of lupine.  (click on picture in enlarge)

Until next post, Thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.   David

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Osprey in Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

One of my favorite pastimes after work when I have just a few hours is to view an Osprey nest that sits atop a rock pinnacle in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  I've watched this nest over the last three years while here in the summer.  I set up the spotting scope near the rim of the canyon and constantly have people ask what I'm looking at.  When they look through the scope the usual response is "Oh my gosh".  This year I've watched as the three eggs have hatched and have now doubled in size.  One evening last week I took the "big" lens out and took the following pictures. 

I believe this is mom returning to the nest.  There are three chicks in the nest.  (click on the image to enlarge it)

Based on past observations the fledglings will probably make their first flight in late August or early September.  I'll plan to post more pictures of the Osprey as they mature.

Thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.  David


On days off this week I did several hikes which was one of my goals for this year.   On Friday several of us hiked the Pelican Valley Trail which follows along Pelican Creek as it meanders through a beautiful valley.  This trail does not open until mid July due to heavy grizzly activity in the area.  While we did not see any bears we did see a group of elk and there were about fifteen bison grazing in the valley.  I did not carry a camera on this hike so no pictures.

On Saturday a group of us went to Teton Nat'l Park to hike the Two Oceans Lake trail including a climb up to Grand View Overlook. All total the hike was 9 miles but well worth the time. This was one of the nicest hikes I've ever done here. A few of the ladies on the hike identified over 30 different varieties of wild flowers.

After going half way around the lake we took the side trail for 1.3 miles up to Grand View Overlook.  It was a strenuous uphill climb but more than worth the effort once your reached the top.  From one side you looked down on Two Oceans lake and the other side gave a wonderful view of the Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake.  Here is Two Oceans lake.

And here is the view of Grand Teton.

And Oh, I forgot to mention the moose in the lake.

Many thanks to my friend Larry who planned this hike and celebrated his birthday with us.

As always thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.  David

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Another week in Yellowstone has passed.  I had three days off and tried to take full advantage of them.  The first day friends and I hiked to Fairy Falls and then on out to Imperial Geyser.  This is a popular hike in the Old Faithful area.  When we reached Imperial Geyser there was no one else there so we had it all to ourselves.  Imperial constantly erupts to about five feet but every so often it will reach about twenty feet.  There is a beautiful blue pool around the base of the geyser.  While hiking to Fairy Falls you pass the Grand Prismatic Spring pictured below.  It is the world's second largest hot spring.

The next day was spent driving through the north end of the park in search of photo opportunities.  Just before reaching Roosevelt I saw a small black bear up ahead.  I pulled into a pullout and waited for him to make his way toward me.  He was too close to leave the car so the following was taken from the car.

 I hiked into Trout Lake in hopes of finding the otters but once again they were not out.  A small stream leaves the lake on the north side and it was full of cut-throat trout swimming upstream to spawn.  I did find one photo op while hiking around the lake.  This Common Golden Eye Duck and chicks were resting on a log in the lake.

I hear the wildflowers are beautiful now in Teton National Park so that may be a destination for the next days off. 

Until next time thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.    David

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yellowstone Wolves

I had a great thrill Saturday while driving through the Lamar Valley.  As I reached the Soda Butte Creek area I saw a lone wolf sitting on the hill side.  I immediately stopped and set up the camera.  He was very patient with me and allowed me to get at least 20 photos of him before wandering off over the hillside.  This was my first opportunity to photograph a wolf at close range.  As best I can tell he is a yearling from 2010.  It is very possible that this is one of the four pups Karen and I saw last year in a den at Slough Creek.

The orignal Yellowstone wolves were killed by a federal government program to eliminate all wolf populations, even in National Parks.  The last wild wolves in the park were killed in 1924.  After years of debate , in January 1995 fourteen wolves were captured in Canada and transported to Yellowstone.  They were kept for three months in three separate large enclosures to be acclimated to the new area.  When released they formed the three initial packs in the Yellowstone area.  In 1996 17 additional wolves were released in the Blacktail Plateau and Firehole River Valley.

It is estimated that today as many as 1,500 wolves live in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  I've had the opportunity to observe packs in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys this year either with binoculars or spotting scope.  Several weeks ago I watched four from the Canyon Pack approach and surprise a small group of elk.  While I did not see the actual kill, it was exciting to watch. 

These are wonderful creatures and are an important part of the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Remember you can "click" on the image to see full size.

All images are protected by copyright and may not be used without the express consent of the photographer.

As always, thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.   David

Sunday, July 10, 2011


It has been another good photo week in Yellowstone.  The weather has been beautiful with mornings of 40 and highs around 70 to 75.  The park was very crowded for the holiday week but if you were out early the wildlife sightings were many and there was little traffic.  Later in the afternoon a bison or bear jam (traffic jam) could stop you for 30 minutes or more. 

This little bison calf needed a brief rest before continuing to play with others in the herd. 

I again visited the Sand Hill Crane nest on Floating Island Lake.  One colt had hatched as you can see in the picture and there is still one egg in the nest.  This pair of cranes has nested here for at least the last three years that I know of.  I'll continue to post pictures as the colts grow over the summer. I apologize for the glare but this was taken with a harsh mid-day sun.

One morning last week I woke up at 5am and decided to drive out the east entrance to see if any of the local bears were around.  I found this grizzly at Sedge Bay and watched him for over an hour.  There were only a few people out at that hour so we had him all to ourselves.

I'll sometimes pass up trying to photograph the black bears because it is difficult to get a crisp sharp picture of their black color but this fellow was in a beautiful field of wildflowers on the back side of Mount Washburn. 

I already have several pictures for my next blog post which I should have out in the next few days.  Remember to "click" on the image to see a full screen view.

Please remember that all images posted here are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.  I do post the full size image so that you are viewing the best detail possible.  If anyone is interested in using an image or would like a print, just use the link on the blog to email me.

Until next time, thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.   David

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beartooth Highway

Today I traveled the Beartooth Highway that has been called "the most beautiful drive in America," by late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt.  The Beartooth Highway is the section of U.S. Highway 212 between Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana.  It traces a series of steep zigzags and switchbacks, along the Montana-Wyoming border to the 10,947 ft high Beartooth Pass.  Here are a few photos from today's trip. 

This is from the top of Beartooth Pass at almost 11,000 ft elevation. 

Just over the east side of the Pass I found this valley with a beautiful lake still partially frozen.

This is another view from the top of the Pass.  Look closely and you'll see the road switch backs down the west side of the Pass.

Remember you can "click" on the pictures to see a larger view. 
Until next time, "Thanks for following my Yellowstone adventures"  David