Because we are both working Lee and I have made a deal. Once we “clear” a section of the park together it is open to either of us going alone. That is part of the reason these first few posts are all going to be divided into sections because we are clearing the map.
On our second foray into the park I chose Canyon Village, because the roads were clear and I really wanted to see the canyon. The first time I saw a painting depicting this spot I was blown away and have always wanted to stand where Thomas Moran once stood.
Since we went in the evening after work, we knew animal sightings would be a crapshoot, but between the valley and the waterfall I didn’t really care. I do want to mention here that MANY people come with the desire to see animals and although I respect that (and want to see them as well) there is so much more to see here. If you only have a few days and come to check the grizzly bear box you may be disappointed. Instead I advise taking the park in all its natural beauty and letting the animal sighting come to you.
The road to Canyon Village actually has a small stretch of 7% grade and on another snowier day Lee turned around rather than attempting it. This evening though the roads were clear and the snow laden trees were gorgeous.
When we approached the canyon we realized that the trails closer to the falls (including artists viewpoint) were closed but thankfully the higher level viewpoints were open. There were three different views that we saw and everyone one of them was breathtaking. I haven’t seen anything quite like this since our visit to Bryce and the combination of snow, water, and valley blew me away. Truly I am not a good enough writer to express how it felt so I will let the pictures do the talking for me, but even they don’t come close to capturing the majesty.
Very few people were around and since the rules are that your dog can be outside your vehicle within 50 feet of the road we were able to let Jack out a bit, ON LEASH. He loves the fresh air and his nose is working overtime with all the smells. The pine trees and snow amongst the rocks were so beautiful as well and although it was a bummer we couldn’t hit the trails I am glad my first views were with the snow. We took a last few pics though because we were losing the light and headed back to the main area of the park.
On a whim we headed north towards obsidian cliff because Lee had heard there were grizzlies in that area. The locals and professional photographers all say if you are looking for animals 6am – 9am or after dusk are the best times so we decided to give it a shot. As we were advised we drove slowly along the road looking in the meadows and for cars pulled over. Truly as an amateur the best way to see things is to look for others who are experts at spotting and although sometimes you just miss the sighting when you don’t its really cool.
And in this case we got really lucky because when we saw a crowd we pulled over we got to see a grizzly bear!!! The bear was playing peekaboo in the woods, but by being patient we got a few shots with our long lens. This particular bear has a collar and a local told me it was bear 881 and was a 19 year old male. I asked how she knew that, but she got a little coy and said she knew her bears.
We stayed for awhile and watched the bear but decided to move our truck to free up the area for other folks. We turned around and were heading back when we saw a horse trailer. Since there were cars on on both side of the road he waved us through and as we were passing we saw Forrie Smith (the actor who plays Lloyd on Yellowstone) in the truck cab pulling the trailer. Lee, always quick, stopped the truck and jumped out. He shook his hand and told him how much he loved his work and I managed to get a quick pic through the window.
Sometimes life hands you quintessential moments and I know meeting a Yellowstone actor, in Yellowstone park, while a grizzly grazed nearby was definitely one of them. We were both super excited as we headed back to our campground, but had one more stop as we passed a giant pool. I love this particular hot pool because it is right next to the main road and the hot water and steam go under the road into the river nearby. It was a beautiful night and the steam was billowing and capped a perfect evening.
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