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Yellowstone National Park 2017 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wildlife Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

19 through 27 September 2017 - Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2012 ~ © Copyright Frank Smith All Rights Reserved

~ September 2017 ~

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Moose in Winter ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Tuesday - September 19th

I left Idaho Falls before 3:00 p.m. finding little traffic on my way in, however, a lot of cars coming out of the park from Madison to West Yellowstone. It was 34 degrees and snowing in Hayden Valley. I found no bears or wolves so headed for Norris Campground for the night.

Wednesday - September 20th

30 degrees and spitting snow in the morning warming up to a nice 55 degrees. The road over Dunraven Pass was closed, the road to Hayden Valley was closed so I waited until 10:00 a.m. when the road into Hayden Valley opened. No bears or wolves found so by around noon the road over Dunraven Pass opened up allowing me to go to the northern range. I went west outside of the park for viewing. I had four grizzlies in one field grazing as well as two separate grizzlies in lower fields. I spent the night camped west outside of the park tonight.

Thursday - September 21st

30 degrees in the morning warming up to 47 degrees with a few road closures in the park. I had a bull moose west of the park this morning and a nice bull and cow moose in Round Prairie later in the day. I also had a badger cross the road near the Soda Butte Cone today. I had three grizzlies including a sow and a cub of the year grazing in one field this morning outside of the park. I also had three separate grizzlies in fields lower on the road this morning outside of the park. At 12:10 p.m. we had the eight Junction Butte wolves show up across from the Institute in Lamar Valley. The clouds were low with no visibility above the valley floor, but when the wolves disappeared into the clouds we got a few views of wolves chasing elk near Square Meadow. Around 1:40 p.m. while we watched Square Meadow for other signs, the wolves killed an elk on the valley floor. I camped at Pebble Creek Campground for the evening.

Friday - September 22nd

It was 34 degrees in the morning warming up to a nice 43 degrees with no wind. I'm glad I camped at Pebble Creek, because we got between 2 and 4 inches of snow. Silver Gate had 12 inches of wet snow and Cooke City had 14 inches. The northeast entrance was closed for a few hours, which doesn't happen often. The wet snow had bent the willows in Round Prairie to about three feet from their regular height of ten to fourteen feet, making the cow moose show up for good viewing today. At 6:40 a.m. we had the eight Junction Butte wolves (6 black and 2 gray) moving east and south of Midpoint. At 7:15 a.m. Bob L heard howling and found three Prospect Peak gray wolf pups in Sough Creek. At 3:20 p.m. my last sighting for the day was a black bear with a cub at Elk Creek. I camped at Pebble Creek again today.

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Saturday - September 23rd

34 degrees with fog in the morning warming up to 45 degrees. I found an otter mom and one kit swimming in the Lamar River around noon today. My first otter all year. At 10:00 Dusty found a grizzly on the northern Peregrine Hill from Lamar Canyon West that moved north in front of the Marge Simpson Tree and out of sight. At 11:00 a.m. I spotted a black bear sow with one brown and one black cub near Trout Lake. From 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. we had a grizzly on the skyline north of Picnic digging. In two hours the grizzly never went over thirty feet. At 2:20 p.m. we had a cinnamon black bear grazing just north of Lamar Canyon West. I spent the evening west outside of the park for the evenings viewing. Four grizzlies grazing in one field outside the park. A fifth grizzly was grazing across the road from the field with the four. And a sixth grizzly was in a lower field digging near dark. I camped outside the park to the west tonight.

Sunday - September 24th

34 degrees this morning warming up to a nice 49 degrees. I had a THREE DOG DAY today thanks mainly to Lynette J. finding a fox on the backside of Specimen Ridge viewed from Antelope Creek. I had two grizzlies grazing in one field this morning, and two other grizzlies in lower fields outside of the park this morning. At 9:00 a.m. I got to see three of the eight Prospect Peak wolves from Rick's Pullout. All this pack are gray wolves with everyone there this morning: five adults and three pups. At 12:15 p.m. Bruce P called telling me he had a grizzly high on Ski Slope viewed from the Institute. At 1:00 p.m. I was heading into Cooke City for lunch when at the 25 mile per hour sign entering Cooke City I found a grizzly with two cubs of the year in the road. They soon moved north up a small hill and out of sight. I later heard that this family has been seen around Cooke City for the last week or two. I hope she moves on, that's not a good place for grizzly bears. At 3:15 p.m. we had a cinnamon black bear sleeping under a tree across the river at Lamar Canyon West. I spent the night at La Duke, six miles west of Gardiner.

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Monday - September 25th

35 degrees this morning warming up to a nice 49 degrees. It’s still crowded in Yellowstone as the Mammoth Campground filled last night. Tower Falls, Norris and Pebble Creek Campgrounds all closed for the year today. At 7:00 a.m. I spotted a grizzly digging on Amethyst Bench. At 7:50 a.m. all three Lamar Canyon Wolves were attempting to cross the road at 21's crossing near Hitching Post (926F, small dot and little T). From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon we watched nine wolves (the pack is now twenty strong with a lot of pups - we had four black, four gray and the white alpha female) of the Wapiti Lake pack west of Grizzly Overlook in the Hayden. Four elk were feeding thru the area, and a nice half mile chase which started with the white alpha female was continued with two grays. The elk won this chase. I again spent the evening glassing outside of the park. I had two grizzlies in the one good field, a sow and a light yearling running across the road from the good field and a dark grizzly lower down the road on my way out at dark. I camped outside of the park to the west at La Duke again tonight.

Tuesday - September 26th

35 degrees warming up to a really nice 59 degrees. I had heard about a grizzly on a bull elk carcass just east of Lake Butte yesterday, so I headed that way this morning. The grizzly was still on the carcass which was a wolf kill that the rangers had moved away from the road but in a nice place to view from the large parking lot. At 7:35 a.m. I got a text saying the Wapiti Lake wolves were again in view at Grizzly Overlook. Today I had fourteen wolves of the twenty west of the road that included all the adults and a few pups at about 7:35 a.m. I later found a gray pup howling to the east of Grizzly Overlook (apparently three had been seen, I only saw the one). From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. all eight of the Junction Butte wolves who had been gone for two days came back into Lamar Valley. They showed up at the Chalcedony Fan viewable from Picnic Area. I spent tonight camped near Silver Gate, Montana.

Wednesday - September 27th

28 degrees this morning and by 7:30 a.m. I had a THREE DOG DAY. At 7:15 a.m. Mark and Carol R found the eight Junction Butte wolves bedded in the old Druid Rendezvous area. I made it a short day even skipping Hayden Valley on my way home since it was still fogged it.

People Seen

From Montana: Rick M, MacNeil L, Kathie L, Emil M, Doug M, Amy T, Laurie L, Evan S, Carl S, Lizzie C, Frank and Kaye Y, Jim H, Bonnie, Leo L, Bob L, Melba C, Ilona P, Cara M, and Bob and Elizabeth N. From Illinois: Wayne K, Sandy H, and Chicago Bob and Margaret. From Idaho: Kim and Joyce C. From Colorado: Mark and Carol R, Jim and Bobbie F, Rick and Lynn H, and Vicky. From Missouri: Don and Carol L. From Utah: Larry M. From Iowa: Jim and Joellyn B, From Indiana: Jeff and Terri. From California: Bob and Nell H and Bill and Karen M. From Kansas: Calvin and Lynette J. From the UK: Alan and Kirsty P. From Wisconsin: Boyd and Scott G. From Virginia: Dusty and Kathy, and Big John. From New York: Rick and Maureen B. From Louisiana: Bruce P. From Washington: Larry and Linda R. From Vermont: John K, From Arizona: Karen W and her sister.

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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