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Trip Report ~ Bear and Marmot Sightings ~ by Randal Horobik

30 July 2011

Yellowstone Yellow-bellied Marmot ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

~ July 2011 ~

Yellowstone Yellow-bellied Marmot by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Saturday - 30 July

My Saturday sightings and words I never, ever thought I'd type...

Needed to get out of the baking Big Horn Basin today and went into the park. Those looking for bears right now, may I highly recommend the Fishing Bridge area. The Storm Point trail is closed and both the trailhead parking lot and the Indian Lake pullouts are blocked off with cones and yellow tape due to recent bear activity. The beach behind the Fishing Bridge visitor center is currently off limits due to bear activity, and I evidently missed a bear at "the" fishing bridge by a matter of minutes.

Meanwhile, the folks down at Bridge Bay were keeping a close watch on their own local bruin today. Apparently people aren't the only species to think a trip to the lake is a great way to spend a summer Saturday.

Incidently, there was also a griz on the Tower side of Dunraven, about halfway down on the switchbacks that had traffic snarled. Ditto for the griz hanging out across the river at the southern end of Round Praire up in the Pebble Creek region.

There is a new fire burning in the park, although I haven't seen/received an official release. It can be seen looking North from Dunraven Pass, with good views of the smoke at times coming as you head down toward Tower. It is also very visible at Roosevelt Junction, looking north over and beyond Garnett Hill. Not sure of cause, size or exact location (I'm sure both will be provided by the NPS in short order), but it appeared to be smoking nicely at mid-afternoon.

We had a nice up close and personal encounter with a moose mama and her yearling just outside the Northeast Entrance this evening. Speaking with the folks at Buns and Beds in Cooke City (I highly recommend the Cheddar Bomb and milkshake special!), it sounds like the two are fairly common along the creek/river either just inside or just outside the park.

We were also treated to a sighting of the Silver Gate fox, which even was so kind as to jump up on a large rock and pose very fox-like for me. Some days everything just clicks I guess...probably should have bought a lottery ticket while I was at it.

The day's funniest moment came just north of Chittenden Bridge as we were driving toward Canyon junction. We always play a game when we hit traffic jams of "guess that animal" based on the size of the traffic backup it causes. This particular jam was creating a backup of about eight cars in both directions with 5-6 pulled off on one side and 3 others on the highway shoulder opposite from folks who dashed across with their cameras. We had the usual bear...bison. My money was on elk.


The official culprit was a marmot -- just ONE marmot -- hopped up on one of the large glacial boulders off to the side of the road, sunning itself like marmots love to do. That's all, nothing more.

Yes, you heard it here first. I've just experienced my first official marmot-jam in Yellowstone National Park. Never, EVER thought I'd type those words in a trip report. Ever. Still a very fun day though.

Yellowstone Yellow-bellied Marmot by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

Grizzly Bear Number 264 take 20 April 1998 by John William Uhler © Copyright John William Uhler ~ All Rights Reserved
In memory of female Grizzly Bear Number 264

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