Exploring Yellowstone National Park, August 19, 2014.
Every day we were in the park this time, we drove past LeHardy Rapids, a cascade on the Yellowstone River, three miles north of Fishing Bridge.
We were thrilled to finally see wolves in Yellowstone. In the same area we had seen the four grizzlies the day before, a single grizzly was defending possession of a buffalo carcass from a pair of gray wolves.
We later learned that one or two buffalo had been hit on the road the night before and had wandered off into the sage. If animals die on or near the road after being hit, park employees dispose of the carcass. When an injured animal wanders away from the road and dies, the carcass is left for carrion-eaters.
It was hard to see what was going on, even with the camera zoom lens. The image below is the result of digital cropping and enhancement. Another couple had a nice spotting scope set up and asked us if we wanted to look. I wish I could get photos from that distance as clear as what we saw in that scope.
Gray wolves are “predominantly a mottled gray in color, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.” (Wikipedia)
Initially, we thought the wolves were a white and a black, but the black turned out to be a mix of dark colors.
At one point, the white wolf got too close to the buffalo carcass – and the grizzly charged!
Our first destination of the day was the Porcelain Basin trail at Norris Geyser Basin.
It was still the summer tourist season, so after 10 AM or so, parking lots to the most popular spots are full with vehicles waiting for someone to pull out. When we got to Norris, there was plenty of parking spots open. By the time we finished the trail, the parking lot was packed.
Our next destination was Firehole Lake Road, whose closure had been in the news the previous month.
Yellowstone National Park road melts into ‘soupy mess’
Extreme heat from surrounding thermal areas has created a hot spot in Yellowstone National Park, melting a portion of a road and causing temporary closures in the park during the peak summer tourist season. (LA Times)
In a press release, the National Park Service said, “The road will remain closed for the next several days while maintenance crews make repairs. The date for reopening the road is uncertain at this time, and will be determined after crews assess the effectiveness of their efforts.”
Other than a newly paved stretch of road, we didn’t see any sign of the “melted road” problem.
Next up – we head out of the park into Montana.