Close encounters of the bison kind

So today was a day of geysers, hot pools, hot springs, mud pots, rotten egg gas and close encounters with multiple bison and some elk. The park is absolutley huge and takes at least 1.5 days just to do the Grand Circuit road loop looking at the sights (which doesn’t leave much time to walk the boardwalk trails), so we decided to focus on the lower loop in particular the Old Faithful area as there are stacks of other sights to check out in this area.

On the drive in there was quite a number of elk and bison herds spotted in the plains. It’s rather easy to spot them as you just have to look for stacks of cars or cars randomly pulling over. Also saw a bull elk under a tree. If you keep your eyes peeled you can also occasionally spot a lone bull bison wandering by himself.

Back at the Old Faithful area we didn’t have too long to wait for her to erupt so we decided to watch it again as don’t think we’re going to drive back to this area. Then went on a walk of the boardwalk trail around numerous other geysers, springs pools etc. The walk was meant to be a few miles return until we got half way and couldn’t go any further as a herd of bison decided it was a nice sunny spot to have a sunbake right next to the trail. A ranger was actually there to stop people crossing both ways as these guys have horns and can charge at around 40km/h. So we had to backtrack and walk by the bike trail to rejoin which added I reckon at least 2 km to the walk as we also had to backtrack that to return – it was meant to be a loop!

After that epic walk it was food time, except hotdogs were $6.10 when in every other park they’ve been $2.00! I think it has something to do with bits of Yellowstone’s facilities like lodges and stores being run by an external provider? So a choc-chip cookie had to do. Then onwards to Fishing Village where coming down to cross the bridge we’re met with a mini traffic jam and a bull bison who had crossed the bridge and was taking a stroll up the road. They’re generally slow walking creatures except when they charge so cars were slowly making their way past though one guy towing a caravan freaked it a little and it did one of those leg stomp things you see before animals charge. Luckily it didn’t as we were the car facing it! There also happened to be a ranger here as well which was interesting viewing from the car, ‘cos I think the kids and parents got told to return to their car and the others – including the ranger – not near a car stood behind a signboard till he walked past them.

Whilst on the way back out, the same ranger was there and asked if we wanted to listen to the ranger talk which was meant to start. Since there was no one there we decided we would. It was actually pretty interesting. Another pair of people joined us midway and at the end it diverged into an animal spotting convo. Looks like there’s grizzlies and moose down Fishing Village way. And according to the ranger last night a pack of 4 wolves took out an elk (they had to remove the body today – otherwise bears will probably come). The other guy there had also followed a wolf’s trail along the beach but stopped once it disappeared into the forest.

Then it was time to head back to town where on the way out more traffic jams due to bison. Animals rule the park here and that’s fine… what’s annoying is the idiot drivers who try to outrun the jam by driving idiotically.

Tomorrow’s an early start, hoping to get up to Mammoth to watch elk in the morning – some guys down at the Tetons told us there’s stacks.

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