Day 8 of my border-to-border road trip.
After leaving Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, I headed east to Yellowstone. With all the wet weather and cooler temperatures, I thought some of the crowds might have stayed away but boy, was I wrong. In spite of the weather and being in the middle of the week, the park was so packed that it was difficult to find a parking spot in any of the pull-offs to gawk at the wildlife or scenery. Even the campgrounds were full.
I finally managed to find a spot near a herd of grazing elk. Several cow elk grazed near a large bull laying in the grass. It was the middle of mating season, so he was likely recovering from fighting to maintain his harem, and all the other duties that come with being a harem master. I’ve been hearing a lot of stories lately about ill-behaved tourists and their lack of respect for wildlife, and I was shocked to see it right in front of my eyes as a couple walked away from the crowd at the parking area and approached the sleepy bull elk with their iPads extended in front of them. Lucky for them, the bull was too tired to care.
I drove on out of the park stopping occasionally to snap a photo, and headed into Grand Teton National Park. The crowds there were almost as bad, but as the clouds started to lift off the Tetons, it was easy to ignore the crowds for a moment and just be in awe of such an incredible place.
The fall color was becoming much more noticeable, making the drive even more spectacular. But it was time to go, so after a stop in Jackson Hole for gas, I headed up the Grey’s River to find a campsite. The campgrounds were loaded with giant RV’s, and the dispersed campsites were rapidly filling up with the same. Apparently, it was the night before opening day of hunting season!
I finally managed to find a nice pull-off right next to the river. Everything was still damp from the recent rains, but the river provided a lovely sonic backdrop, highlighted by fall color (see photo at top). I was also treated to a beautiful sunset.
Just before it got dark, I heard an osprey calling nearby. By the time I got the mics set up, it had stopped calling. However, I heard a pair of osprey calling shortly after dawn:
I managed to find one of the calling birds sitting on a large nest not far from camp. Osprey are one of my favorite raptors, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching them for hours, as they swoop low over the water to snag fish on the wing.
The clouds had finally lifted, and the drive out was spectacular, with the cottonwoods and Rocky Mountain maples lit up by the sun. I was sad to leave the color behind, as the journey continued southward, to Flaming Gorge National Monument.
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