2022—Yellowstone, Day 1, Before Breakfast

Our spring visit to Yellowstone National Park started off with a bang and ended with fireworks! We left Old Faithful Snow Lodge well before dawn to get to the Lamar Valley by sunrise. The first critters we saw were Snowshoe Hares, and until then, a critter I knew only by its footprints in the snow. Their winter coats were still white, so they were easy to see in the darkness. As the morning light brightened, a small herd of Bison lumbered down the road. And then suddenly, three wolves, two blacks and a gray, crossed right in front of us and disappeared up the slope into the sage. A ways up the road we stopped in hopes of seeing wolves seen by others only moments before we arrived. We stayed for a while and saw no wolves but a pair of Bald Eagles soared overhead and some Elk grazed on the slope. We began to see several small bands of Pronghorn does and a small group of Bighorn ewes crossed the road, several obviously pregnant. But we had yet to photograph a single critter. Then, Pat shouted “Black Bear!” The bear was too high up a hillside to photograph so we watched, enjoyed the view, then drove on. Around the corner, another Black Bear, with a gorgeous shiny black coat, walked down a slight slope paralleling the edge of the road. We pulled ahead of all the cars and sure enough, it walked directly toward us. When it finally turned and ambled slowly away we felt elated that we’d already had a great day and it wasn’t even 10 AM. And, as if the morning’s sightings weren’t enough, after breakfast, we spotted a Grizzly Bear on a mission. We watched but didn’t get out to photograph it. The crowds and proximity of the Grizzly would have made it impossible for us to get any photographs. As we headed back to the Snow Lodge, it was just past noon. We spotted a lone Coyote loping along the edge of the Madison River still cloaked in its winter finery. After dinner we ventured out before the sun set. Another Grizzly rooting in the meadow posed for quite a while. This last sighting was the cherry on top of a very successful first day visit to Yellowstone.