Yellowstone National Park 2018 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
11 through 21 October 2018 - Yellowstone National Park
~ October 2018 ~
Thursday - October 11th
I left Idaho Falls mid morning and made the trip in good time. The road construction between Norris and Mammoth is still going on, with a part of the road having a level or two of new payment. However with all of the moisture lately the road was a muddy mess. I had a high of 39 degrees today, viewing a golden eagle and a blue heron. Lots and lots of elk coming back to the valleys now; one day we viewed 700-800 elk on the slopes of Hellroaring. Passing through Mammoth I got a text from Jim and Twyla E. saying they had a grizzly with two cubs on the slopes of Hellroaring. When I arrived around 1:00 p.m. Jim and Twyla had moved on, but I found the grizzly sow with two cubs of the year (coys) near the top of the large Hellroaring Meadow lightly digging. At 3:15 p.m. a small grizzly high on Specimen Ridge viewed from the Slough Creek restroom. At 3:25 p.m. I spotted a cinnamon black bear south of Lamar Canyon West. At 6:50 p.m. I spotted a dark brown black bear just off the road near Thunderer Pullout. I camped this entire trip outside the park near Silver Gate.
Friday - October 12th
24 degrees this morning warming up to around 40 degrees and clear skies. I had a nice sized bull moose crossing the road near Trout Lake on the way out of the park this evening. I found another golden eagle in Lamar Valley this morning. I also had a THREE DOG DAY today: wolf, coyote, and fox. At 9:20a.m. the Junction Butte wolf pack had a fresh carcass in Slough Creek just above the river corridor. All eight adults and three pups were around the carcass. From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. the sub adult grizzly (Junction Butte) was to the north in Little America in front of the Peregrine Hills. From 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. the grizzly sow with two coys was again on the slopes of Hellroaring viewed from Upper or Lower Hellroaring pullouts.
Saturday - October 13th
33 degrees this morning warming up to 35 degrees with 1-2 inches of snow everywhere. It snowed all morning and at one time the only roads in the entire park that were open were Gardiner to Mammoth and Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance. Lots of slide offs in the park today and some people were trapped at Canyon Village for quite a while until the roads reopened. At 1:15 p.m. the grizzly sow with two coys were seen again digging on the slopes of Hellroaring (first time today that the clouds lifted to be able to see the tops of the meadows). Around 6:00 p.m. the three Junction Butte pups were bedded in their rendezvous area south of Trash Can. Around 6:15 p.m. all eight adults came into view from the east. They encountered a few elk and chased them into the Lamar River corridor as darkness arrived. Interestingly the three pups had not detected the adults returning and continued to sleep until one or two of the adults arrived.
Sunday - October 14th
10 degrees this morning warming up to 35 degrees. I had a bull moose south of Footbridge this morning. A little known fact about Apple I phones: you can put them on airplane mode and turn them off, but if they get really cold they keep the phone warm and run down your phone battery during the night. I went to sleep with 100% phone charged and woke up to 19% and 20% this morning and tomorrow morning. Just going to have to put the phone inside the sleeping bag on cold nights. At 7:20 a.m. all eleven of the Junction Butte pack were back in Lamar Valley south of Trash Can Pullout before morning east and out of sight. At 8:00 a.m. Carol R called with a nice sized grizzly eating on something in the sagebrush between the road and the rendezvous area viewed from Trash Can Hill The wolves never visited the grizzly so assume the bear took the carcass from the wolves sometime during the night. At 9:55 a.m. Dale and Fay B found three wolves moving on the backside of Specimen Ridge viewed from Elk Creek. A long sighting and probably Mollies wolves, but not sure. At 10:50 a.m. the grizzly sow with two coys were back on the slopes of Hellroaring digging. The family was still in view at 3:20 p.m. At 5:55 p.m. we had a grizzly sow with one coy in the Bowl viewed south of the Institute.
Monday - October 15th
8 degrees this morning warming up to 45 degrees. I had a fox in the road near Warm Creek this morning. At 7:15 a.m. I spotted a single grizzly in the same clearing south of the Institute that the sow and coy were in last evening. At 10:25 a.m. the grizzly sow with two coys were again on the slopes of Hellroaring. At 11:45 a.m. we had the Junction Butte sub adult again north in Little America in front of the Peregrine Hills. At 1:00 p.m. I found a grizzly sow with one coy in the A-Z Meadow viewed from Dorothy's Pullout. At 5:15 p.m. Stacy A. found a grizzly in a small clearing on the backside of Specimen Ridge right of Roof Top viewed from Antelope Creek. At 5:20 p.m. I found a dark grizzly on the backside of Specimen Ridge right of Roof Top clearing from Antelope Creek. At 5:35 p.m. my last black bear for the trip was at Rainy Lake near Tower Junction.
Tuesday - October 16th
19 degrees this morning warming up to 58 degrees. I had a THREE DOG DAY today. I spent a hour or so glassing the backside of Specimen Ridge from Antelope Creek and spotted a guy with a mountain bike zipping around miles from the road (completely illegal too). At 8:40 a.m. I found the Junction Butte wolves below the Mixed Conifer Aspen Forest in Slough Creek. Early in the morning MacNeil L and Leo L had heard howling from Elk Creek and Tower Junction. We all spread out and the wolves slipped to the east where I found them. They bedded in a yellow grass clearing until near dark when all eleven got up and moved west into the river corridor. At 9:50 a.m. the grizzly sow with two coys were again digging on the slopes of Hellroaring. They were still in view at 3:20 p.m. At 11:15 a.m. Brandon called having a small grizzly on Specimen Ridge viewed from Lamar Canyon West Pullout. At 5:15 p.m. we watched the grizzly sow with one coy in the Bowl viewed from south of the Institute.
Wednesday - October 17th
25 degrees this morning warming up to 60 degrees. I talked to Linda T today who had talked to the person who traps/collars black bears in Yellowstone. All the black bears collared by him are already in dens. At 7:40 a.m. I spotted a large grizzly traveling west to east on Dead Puppy Hill viewed from Footbridge Pullout. At 8:00 a.m. all eleven Junction Butte wolves (8 adults and 3 pups) were seen traveling east from the rendezvous area south of Trash Can Pullout. At 8:50 a.m. a grizzly sow with two coys (Slough Creek sow) were seen north of Coyote Overlook. The cubs look smaller than the cubs seen on Hellroaring Slopes, but I think this sow is larger. The family was in view from 5:00 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. between Coyote and Dorothy's Pullouts to the north. At 9:50 a.m. the grizzly with one coy were seen in the Bowl south of the Institute. From 2:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. the grizzly sow with two coys on the slopes of Hellroaring.
Thursday - October 18th
25 degrees warming up to 62 degrees without a cloud in the sky. I had a THREE DOG DAY today. At 8:00 a.m. Wendy B called with a large grizzly coming towards the river from the south just west of the rendezvous area. This grizzly moved into the river corridor and then coming out wet moved back to the trees never approaching the wolves just to his east. At 8:00 a.m. and all day the eleven Junction Butte wolves remained in the rendezvous area. Not much action but most of the time at least one black or gray body could be seen laying down in the yellow grass. At 8:20 a.m. the grizzly sow with one coy were in Bear Meadow viewed from Midpoint Pullout. This morning they were on the upper part of the clearing and could not be seen from the Institute. In the afternoon I found them again, this time to the east of The Bell (last time I saw this family on this trip). At 8:30 a.m. the Slough Creek sow was between the pullouts of Coyote and Dorothy's on the north side of the road. At 9:25 a.m. the grizzly sow with two coys were seen on the slopes of Hellroaring. This family was in view again from 1:00 p.m. to 2:45 a.m. Actually I believe this family stays out all day in this clearing.
Friday - October 19th
22 degrees this morning warming up to 63 degrees. News from Gardiner, the Sinclair station was torn down to make rental properties which means only the Exxon Station has gas in Gardiner now. At 8:00 a.m. only the Junction Butte pups (two black and one gray) were spotted in the rendezvous area and in late morning they moved west disappearing behind Jasper Bench. At 9:20 a.m. the grizzly sow with two coys were on the slopes of Hellroaring. I watched them again around 3:00 p.m. and they were still digging on the Hellroaring slopes. At 3:55 p.m. Stacy A found a grizzly on the backside of Specimen Ridge right of Roof Top in a small clearing viewed from Antelope Creek. At 4:00 p.m. I found a dark grizzly left of Roof Top on the backside of Specimen Ridge viewed from Antelope Creek.
Saturday - October 20th
23 degrees this morning warming up to 66 degrees. Before daylight the three Junction Butte pups were howling and about 7:20 a.m. and were located in the rendezvous area. At 8:10 a.m. Stacy A found the Crevice Lake wolf pack on the far right and high on the slopes of Hellroaring. They had a carcass that could be seen from Elk Creek and Rick's Pullout but we could only see ravens from Hellroaring. The carcass seemed pretty much gone. All five adults and the three pups were there today. At 10:45 a.m. Chris H found a grizzly digging under the snow cornice high south and west of Footbridge Pullout. At 3:30 p.m. the grizzly sow with two coys briefly visited the carcass on Hellroaring Slope. Others had seen them briefly being chased off by the wolves in that area. Apparently the wolves had made an impression on the bears as the coys were staying really close to mom when they visited the carcass area. At 4:10 p.m. Alan C found a grizzly in the same clearing as Stacy's grizzly yesterday right of Roof Top on the backside of Specimen Ridge viewed from Antelope Creek.
Sunday - October 21st
26 degrees this morning warming up quite nicely as I left the park early in the afternoon. I had a grouse just off the road near Dunraven Pass. Before daylight the wolf pups were howling again. They sounded more to the east this morning like under K Meadow. But when it got light they were located moving west near Amethyst Bench.
Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Kathie L, Rick M, Don and Paula V, Melba C, Doug M, Barb M, Ilona P, and Becky C and Chloe F. From Colorado: Mark and Carol R, and Dale and Fay B. From Washington: David and Stephanie O. From Iowa: Jim and Joellyn B. From Indiana: Jeff and Terry B. From California: Lauri L and Bob and Nell H. From the Netherlands: Jort V. From Tennessee: Stacy A. From Oklahoma: Robert and Pam W. From New York: Wendy B. And from Connecticut: Geoff and Julia and kids. Bear Watchers seen this report: From Ohio: Jim and Tywla E. From Lousiana: Bruce P. From Oregon: Larry and Char. From Montana: Chuck and Debbie, and Alan C. From Idaho: Kim and Joyce C. Others seen this trip: From Vermont: John K. From Montana: Nathan V, Brandon, Chris H, Emil M, Linda T, Grant, Cara M, Cliff B, Leo L, and MacNeil L. From Wyoming: Pete B and Dick P. From Washington: Nick and Diane L. From Oklahoma: Kim H.
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