Day 18 - Yellowstone National Park
After breakfast we drive again into the park, today we will do the lower loop.
When we get at Duck Lake (next to West Thumb) we suddenly see a bear who is frightened by our car and runs into the woods. Patrick tries to take some photo's but can only see the backside of the bear.
From the bank of West Thumb we take some beautiful pictures from Grand Teton.
At the Fishing Bridge we take a turn to the East Entrance Road which we know already from a few years ago. We arrive at Sylvan Lake where there is much more snow than 3 years ago. We stop at a little parking to have a picnic for lunch and Patrick goes to discover the area. Apparently this is a picnic area but we cannot see it due to the amount of snow, we only see the top of the garbage bin sticking out of the snow.
We drive on to the overview of Lake Butte and there we see a Golden Eagle flying around. Very nice, as he is literally flying next to us.
When we drive down Patrick sees some movement between the rocks. He stops the car and has a look. After waiting about a minute we suddenly see the small animal. It is a funny stoat (short-tailed weasel). He nicely stands still for the picture.
Later on, just before Mary Bay (near Steamboat Point) we see lots of cars next to the road. We have a look. There is a beautiful large grizzly in the meadow eating grass, just next to the water. We stay here for more than 15 minutes and take lots of picture, this is a fantastic opportunity. When the grizzly goes to rest we leave again.
At Fishing Bridge we stop and go for a walk. We see 4 pelicans on the island. We walk on and see a sign that we may not go any further because of the bears! We do not ignore this sign and leave again.
A bit later we walk to LeHardys Rapids for some photo's. We drive on and pass Sulpher Caldron where we stop but leave again very quickly because the terrible smell of rotten eggs (sulphides) is dreadful.
At Hayden Valley we see a bunch of people with binoculars and camera's. This valley is very nice and the most famous place in Yellowstone to see wolves. We have a chat with these people and apparently one of them is a colleague of Greet De Keyser (a Flemish journalist working for the Belgian National TV and Radio in the USA). He is from the Netherlands and lives in the USA. Meanwhile someone spotted a wolf and everybody looks through their binoculars. Patrick tries to see something with his 400mm lens (APS-C 600mm) but it is too far. We are allowed to use someone’s binoculars (a Swarovski btw) but we do not see anything else than a white spot (they say this is the white wolf...). Just yesterday they spotted here a wolf with two little ones. We say goodbye and continue.
About a kilometer further we see again some cars and we have a look what is going on. We walk on the bank and down in the valley we see a grizzly bear with two cubs. Patrick needs to stand very still to take a picture from this distance. Meanwhile we see some people (with children) leaving the path and following the grizzly. We notice that the grizzly looks around very often to watch her followers. This is really crazy! When you are in bear country you should stay on the paths and do not follow them into their territory! If this bear feels threatened (especially with cubs) and turns around towards you, you will have no way to escape. A grizzly runs faster than the best racehorse!
We cannot stand this and drive on to Artists Paintpots where we have a little walk. Afterwards we go back to our hotel for a shower and a nice dinner in the Outpost Restaurant.
Daytrip approx. 278 km