It’s In Your Nature: The second time was the charm
If you recall, last June, Yellowstone National Park experienced unprecedented flooding from heavy thunderstorms, rapid snow melt, and then extensive damage to roads and bridges. The park had to close and safely evacuate many visitors and campers. My wife and I had gotten to Cody, Wyoming, our step off point to travel through the park, on the very day Yellowstone closed. Terrible luck. Well, since last year’s trip was cut in half, I decided to try again, hoping there would not be a repeat of another calamity.
In two of the three next columns, I’d like to share some photos of Wyoming mammals and then some “cool” Wyoming birds. For those who already made it west, I hope they rekindle some memories. For those, like me, who’ve had this on their bucket list for 20 years, it may prompt you to see the beauty of the West and how thankful we should be for our ancestors who have protected these areas for us.
Grand Teton National Park was my first nature area to explore. It offers a variety of habitats, with some areas predominantly confers. I spent a good deal of time in the Laurence Rockefeller Preserve where I followed a few trails without “bumping into” another soul. Just what I hoped for. Moose, ground squirrels, and a wide variety of birds greeted me there. That was a great start to Wyoming.
Yellowstone National Park surprised me. Mostly because of how vast an area it encompasses. I will admit the rental car “put on “ quite a few miles since most major areas of interest were usually 15 to 20 miles apart. The other surprise was the vast areas of regrowth from major wildfires. Yellowstone apparently has had tens of thousands of acres burned in the past 20 years.
If you get to Yellowstone know that you’ll still experience some traffic jams and bumper-to-bumper traffic. (But not your Route 22 congestion.) You would think the wild world would enable you to avoid them. But these “jams” are not caused by accidents but by a “cocky” bull bison who decides to walk a half mile down the middle of the road, or the first herd of elk or bison seen by folks like me stopping and snapping pictures of these magnificent animals.
I hope you enjoy these photos and appreciate what beautiful areas still survive in a country with 335 million people.
Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: Yellowstone National Park encompasses ___ square miles. A. 1,200; B. 2,150; C. 3,400; D. 10,000.
Last Week’s Trivia Answer: Rather surprising, the pronghorn antelope’s horn is not a “true horn” like a bighorn sheep. It, like elk and deer, sheds its horn leaving a short stub which quickly regrows to it new pronghorn shape.
Email Barry Reed at email@example.com