Grizzly in Grand Teton National Park
Last week, I entered Yellowstone National Park from its northeastern gate (Silver Gate and Cooke City) at five-thirty in the morning. It was a balmy thirty-degrees, and the sun was just peeking over my shoulder.
Hmm! This road is warm. Coyote in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone NP
I encountered my first moose of the morning just outside the park, then stopped to watch a red fox with a hare in its mouth cross the road. I rounded the next bend and it hit me – the mountains, the river, remaining snow, the light – it all came pouring in, filling my soul, and putting a smile and a glow on my face.
Just another day in America’s first national park.
Yearling Moose, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone NP
Looking back, I realize that Yellowstone has played a big part in my life and in my family’s as well. Soon after getting married, my wife Stephanie and I bought our first new car, a small Toyota Celica, and promptly loaded it up and took off from Maryland on our first western road trip. Destination the Wind Rivers, Tetons, and Yellowstone. That trip began our long love-affair with the west and led to our eventually moving to Washington State.
Yellowstone River Morning
A later trip with our then ten-year old daughter Danna introduced our family to Yellowstone’s wolves. They had been re-introduced into the park in January of 1995, and when we were there, about six years later, the Druid Pack in Lamar Valley was the dominant pack with, as we remember, over twenty pups from three families in one denning area. We figured something was up when our daughter would jump out of her sleeping bag at four a.m., run up the mountain trail in the dark, and then sit and watch wolves for the entire morning. (Note: usually followed by pancakes on the Roosevelt Lodge porch.) This was our first introduction to now retired National Park Ranger Rick McIntyre who would prove to be a major influence on my daughter’s future studies and career path.
Male Osprey, Lamar River, Yellowstone NP
On a repeat trip a few years later, Rick gave Danna and her friend Laura a Junior Ranger badge and a radio and turned them loose to talk to visitors and tell them about the wolves and their habitat in the park. It was this trip, I am sure, that cemented my daughter’s interest in nature and wild things and led to her future degrees in marine and conservation biology.
Harlequin Ducks, LeHardy's Rapids, Yellowstone River
There were other trips, but when the US border was closed indefinitely due to COVID, Yellowstone became my top option for wildlife photography. Over the past two years I have been lucky enough to visit the park in all four seasons, and I have promised Stephanie that in October, I will have the truck packed and ready to come back again to this amazing place.
Jenny Lake, Grand Teton NP
Yellowstone National Park was established by Congress and signed into law by then President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. Yellowstone is the first national park in the United States and is widely held to be the first national park in the world. At over 2.2 million acres, the park is larger than both Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and the park contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features.
To learn more about Yellowstone’s wolves, read Rick McIntyre’s The Reign of Wolf 21 or The Rise of Wolf 8 which are available online or through your local bookstore.
To see more great images of Yellowstone and wildlife, visit Loren Mooney and Matthew Ross on Instagram, two great photographers that I met in the park on this trip. Matthew is www.instagram.com/wildinfocus and Loren is at www.instagram.com/loren.mooney/
Until the fall! A parting wildlife gift from Yellowstone NP