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Yellowstone National Park 2018 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by John W. Uhler

20 through 23 April 2018 - Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Grizzly Bears ~ Taken on April 20th, 2018 © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

~ April 2018 ~

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

Friday - April 20th

Opening Day. Carlene and I set off for Parkadise about 6:45 AM. We were excited to be heading back home. It was a great clear sunny day and the temp was 38 degrees. We had a great drive with very little traffic on the road except for around Saint Antony, Idaho where I passed a potato truck. We arrived at the West Entrance a little before 8:15 AM and there were about 100 cars waiting to get into Yellowstone. At 8:24 AM we were through the west entrance and back home. Temp was 38 degrees full sunshine and blue skies, looking like a great day and way to start the new season. We stopped and took some photos at the wildlife viewing area just after Seven Mile bridge. Nice reflections. Some snow but the lower elevations were clear with some snow on the mountains. The heavy spring runoff has not started yet so the rivers were low and clear. We saw ducks and geese and a few elk on the drive in. No eagles on the nest or area. There were about 12 buffalo just before the large wildlife viewing area just before Madison Campground and the Madison Junction. No buffalo or elk were seen. It is very apparent that the buffalo had been there as the whole area is very well covered with buffalo paddies. There were some Canada geese playing with the paddies and having a good time.

At 9:00 AM we had our first buffalo jam just before Gibbon Falls. There were buffalo in the meadows along the way on the drive from Gibbon Falls to Norris. We drove to the construction zone and waited for about 15 minutes until the lead truck and vehicles headed south came through. The road was mainly dirt and a nice slow drive for about 5 miles. Ravens met us while we waited and entertained us. There was a small herd of mule deer just before the Mammoth Terraces and Liberty Cap. We stopped at Blacktail Pond and listened to and watched Sandhill Cranes and Canada geese. A goose chased off the Sandhill Cranes as I guess they got to close to the goose nest. The goose was like a little banty hen protecting her chicks. There was also a bald eagle perched high in a tree watching all the activity. One of the folks with us counted 11 sandhill cranes. We had our first sighting of a Mountain Blue bird at about 11:00 AM. At about 11:30 AM we had a cow and calf moose at Geode Pond just after Phantom Lake. We stopped and took some photos and visited with a few folks enjoying the moose sighting.

We had lunch at Yellowstone picnic area. There had been a cinnamon bear by the picnic area earlier. After lunch we made a slow drive through Little America as we headed towards Lamar Valley. We stopped at Slough Creek and met Bill Hamblin and a few other friends. We set up the spotting scope on the Junction Butte pack den area and saw one gray wolf and one black wolf. At about 1:30 PM we had a grizzly bear sow and and cub out grubbing for food just off the road west of the Lamar River bridge. What a thrill. The bears were slowly headed east and finally crossed the road just past where we were parked. Great looking bears and we just love the Great Bears.

A little before 2:00 PM we headed west. At 2:00 PM we had big horn sheep just along the road east of the Yellowstone picnic area. We also saw the small cinnamon bear just west of the Yellowstone picnic area. We saw another grizzly just west of Blacktail Pond on the side of the mountain.

Yellowstone Grizzly Bears ~ Taken on April 20th, 2018 © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Saturday - April 21st

We headed back to Yellowstone at 7:28 AM 35 degrees. At 9:00 AM we arrived at the west entrance with the temp at 34 degrees and another cloudless beautiful spring day. The eagles nest along the Madison is empty and a lot smaller than years past. Buffalo were at the wildlife viewing area just east of seven mile bridge. And we had ducks and geese along the Madison River. At 10:45 AM we had about 11 sandhill cranes, a handfull of Canada geese, some ducks and a trumpeter swan on Blacktail Pond. At 11:20 AM just a little ways past the Petrified Tree we saw a red fox just a little ways from the road. This could be our first Three Dog day. It had warmed up to a nice 58 degrees and another beautiful day in Parkadise.

We stopped at the Buffalo Ranch and joined Bill Hamblin and a few other wildlife watchers. They had spotted a grizzly bear working its way west through some deep snow just along the treeline. It headed up into the trees and was spotted one more time making its way up the mountain. At about 2:00 PM we arrived at Slough Creek road and setup our scope and saw a black and a gray wolf of the Junction Butte pack. Second dog of the day, all we needed now was a coyote to make our first three dog day. Just after viewing the wolves we turned around and there were two grizzlies on the mountain side on the south. We watched them slowly grubbing for food. At 4:00 PM we had another grizzly bear headed west towards the buffalo kill. We headed east to try to find more bears or wolves. We drove to Pebble Creek and spotted along the way with no success. At 5:15 PM we pulled into Coyote Overlook and found our third dog of the day, a coyote working its way west in Lamar Valley. Our first Three Dog Day ever! At around 5:35 PM in Little America we saw our first buffalo calf or red dog. Cute little guys. We stopped at the pullout just past the Boulder pullout and watched the buffalo kill until about a little after 7:00 PM. We saw our first antelope just east of Blacktail Pond on our way back to Mammoth. Great day in Parkadise.

Sunday - April 22nd

Yellowstone Grizzly Bears ~ Taken on April 20th, 2018 © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

It was a cool 32 degrees in Mammoth as we are headed out to Lamar Valley. In Little America we found two Canada geese with a snow goose. This was the first snow goose we have seen in this area. We had seen one other snow goose in Hayden Valley years ago. At 8:30 AM we watched two black wolves of the Junction Butte pack in the den site area at Slough Creek. One went west probably to the kill site. At about 8:45 AM we watched three grizzly bears just west of the den site moving up the mountain and out of view. At about 9:15 AM we went to the kill site just past the boulder pullout. There was a grizzly bear on the kill when we arrived. The bear was only on the kill for a little while and moved west to some rocks and laid down. We shared our scope with all who wanted to see the griz. After a short while the black wolf of the Junction Butte pack came in to the kill and ate. When he was finished, he laid close to the kill in the sage brush.

What a great day. Four grizzly bears, two possibly three wolves and elk and bison and bighorn sheep. About 50 degrees warm tee shirt weather and a beautiful day. We had a trumpeter swan on Blacktail Pond. We also had a coyote sighting just before the old children's fire walk, so a two dog day.

Monday - April 23rd

We woke up in Livingston to rain which turned to snow. Mother nature does her thing. We decided to drive over the Bozeman Pass and then down highway 191 through the west side of Yellowstone on our way home. We had a lot of snow on top of the pass and quite a bit of snow in the canyon just south of Bozeman just about all the way to the park entrance. The snow let up a little when we entered the park but we did not see any wildlife while in the park. We did see a small herd of buffalo about six miles south of the park on the west side of the road just north of the Madison River.

We had a fantastic trip back to Parkadise and had some great wildlife sightings, met old friends and made new friends and met new friends who had been following us since 1995. We also spent time with family and just enjoyed the heck out of our first trip this year and look forward to more of all of it!

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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