It’s been a long day so going to split it into two posts.
Up a 5am, heading through the dark into the Lamar Valley in the north of Yellowstone, dubbed America’s Serengeti, for its abundant wildlife. On route we watch two coyotes and a moose.
This wide, expansive valley is home to bison, elk, coyote, grizzly and wolf, and is must-visit area for serious wildlife watchers. Bison and elk are readily visible, and coyotes can oftentimes be spotted. Visitors who are willing to rise early in the morning or wait up until dusk also may have the opportunity to see bears and wolves.
Todays mission however is…Wolves.
As we head through the valley the mist begins lifting with the daylight revealing vast open plains full of bison and elk. The Yellowstone River and Soda Butte creek snake through the valley floor. At every pull-in are cars with people shivering in the cold, scopes and binoculars in hand.
Our first two stops are fruitless, just loads of bison, so we head off down the road. Suddenly we hit the wildlife road chaos with cars abandoned everywhere. We are too late. Wolves were seen but have disappeared over a hill. A convoy of cars head off down the road to the next pull in. There are several people there with spotting scopes.
We set up a scope and scour the mountainside. There’s a real buzz, then suddenly in a clearing in the forest there they are, 4 wolves. Three black, one grey. Way off, but definitely wolves. We watch them for nearly an hour as they sleep and play before wandering off into the forest A ranger tells me that they are part of the Prospect Peak Pack, one of them being the tagged 966.
Way too far to photograph properly, they are to the right in the shadow of the trees.
As the wolves disappear food beckons, and on route we find this red fox hunting for his breakfast.
We have to travel back along the Lamar Valley to Cooke City for the second part of the day, the Beartooth All American Highway to Cody.
Today’s wildlife count: 4 wolves, 2 coyotes, a moose, an owl, bison, pronghorn deer, elk and mule deer.