I’ve lived in Wyoming for two months, and I haven’t seen a bear — yet. But I have seen some other animals.
I’ve always been fascinated by the animal kingdom. When I was little, I loved to watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which may be why I felt a bit like a kid again when I got to interview Jim Fowler a few years back. I even considered majoring in zoology when I was in college, and I did end up taking a zoology class. It was hard, but quite enjoyable.
So when I got the chance to move to northwest Wyoming, being near Yellowstone National Park and its amazing diversity of animal life was definitely one of the positives. And after taking my first visit to the park earlier this month, that’s still true.
Ironically, it was not on the best of days. It was at the end of a weekend road trip and the weather left a lot to be desired — cold, rainy and gray, not to mention a bit of fog. But it was still a trip to remember.
About 30 minutes after heading into Yellowstone via the park’s West Entrance, I came upon several cars parked alongside the road. When I got closer, I saw why — several bison were taking shelter from the rain under a group of trees, and many of them were sleeping.
As I continued heading east through the park, I also came across several steam vents, or fumaroles. We never had those where I grew up in southeast Missouri!
We also didn’t have elk back in southeast Missouri, either. As I approached West Thumb Junction, I once again came across several cars stopped alongside the road. This time, though, drivers were admiring a pair of elk — a bull and a cow — braving the miserable weather to do some roadside grazing. Not even a small group of spectators or several cameras could stop the pair from getting their evening meal.
Those elk weren’t the last animals I saw. I saw a bison near Fishing Bridge later on the trek east, then came across a bison alongside the road at a switchback not far from Sylvan Pass. Neither animal let the dreary weather nor passers-by on park roads keep them from eating supper.
Even the drive out of the park was something to remember. In my time in Wyoming, I had never traveled U.S. Highway 14/16/20 west of Cody. Needless to say, the drive from the East Entrance to Cody was one to remember. I was reminded that Yellowstone was far from the only place in Park County that has beautiful scenery.
As amazing as that trip through Yellowstone was, what was even more amazing is how great it was on a dreary afternoon and early evening. I can only imagine what it will be like when I head back when the weather is much better, or what it will be like in parts of the park that I have yet to visit, like Lamar Valley.
Hopefully I’ll even see my first bear.