Posts Tagged ‘buffalo’

The Wild Life

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

The last two days have been long but filled with inexplicable beauty. We left the Grand Tetons as the sun rose, casting the impressive mountain range in golden light. It was hard to leave this extraordinary national park but we were drawn forward in our journey with the promise of even more great national parks to come. Our next adventure destination: the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Our first stop in the Black Hills was the Wind Caves National Park where sprawling grasslands spotted with wildlife hides miles of intricate crystalline caves just below the surface. Sadly we didn’t have time to go into the caves but that just means one more reason we have to come back!

As we left the Wind Caves we wove our way through rolling prairies on our way to our next stop, Custer State Park. Generally state parks are overshadowed by the grandeur of national parks, but one thing road tripping across the country has taught me is to never underestimate a state park. Custer State Park is a prime example of this. This preserve for wildlife and gorgeous grasslands never fails to awe me.

Our first wildlife encounter began with a prairie dog town that stretched far across the grassy landscape. These frisky little ground mammals are often heard before they are seen since their barking warning sounds echo from burrow to burrow whenever you draw near.

I personally love these little guys. They have so much character and always make me laugh. I had a great time photographing them as they ran from hole to hole, whisking their tails, and arching their backs as they called out to their neighbors.

There is literally wildlife all over this state park. Everywhere you turn there is some beautiful animal waiting to be discovered. As a wildlife photographer, spotting and photographing wild animals brings me so much life and excitement. I felt so in my element with my camera in hand and eyes keenly surveying every inch of the park. I can’t express how much I enjoy this place.

Custer is known for what their “Begging Burrows” or a group of donkeys that have learned to beg for food from tourists driving through the park. While I disapprove of feeding wildlife it does make for some fun experiences when a donkey walks straight up to your window and sticks its head right in looking for food.

This donkey even head butted my camera as he tried to stick his head into the car. I loved watching them meander down the roads and then venture out into the mustard grass hills of the park.

After our time with the begging burrows we were on the hunt for bison and found ourselves sadly lacking in opportunities to spy these giant iconic animals. We did discover quite a few beautiful roads while we pursued the illusive bison.

We actually only found bison once we left Custer State Park but boy was I excited to finally find them!

I did almost get charged by an angry male bison, but aside from that, I loved watching these lumbering creatures graze slowly across the grasslands.

After the bison, our Black Hills exploration led us to SD- 87, which is popularly known as Needles Highway.

This extraordinary stretch of highway weaves up the Black Hills through narrow rock tunnels and towering needle-like spires of rock.

We loved the drive but found ourselves suddenly stopped before one of the major tunnels in a traffic jam. When I left the car to investigate the reason for the sudden halt in traffic I discovered a mountain goat casually blocking traffic in the tunnel as he continually licked the wall.

When a barking dog in one of the cars finally startled the mountain goat out of the tunnel and back to his natural mountainous habitat, I was lucky enough to have front row seats from which to photograph him.

He was really quite the model and gave me every angle of his handsome face. I may have taken approximately 1,000 pictures of him as he climbed around the rocks and showed off his good looks.

I could not believe how lucky we were. Being blessed enough to experience moments like this makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. It still shocks me how much I have experienced becase of amazing trips such as this one.

I feel so humbled staring into the face of wild beauty. Driving across the country provides me with the opportunity to glimpse behind the curtain of natural wonders. I live for moments like this and wouldn’t exchange my memories of moments such as this for anything.

The shock of experiencing this natural beauty still had not worn off by the time we reached our final destination in the Black Hills for the day: Mount Rushmore.

This man made marvel offered a provocative juxtaposition to the wild beauty we had just encountered.

It wouldn’t be fair to choose one experience over the other, but it shows just how quickly vastly different experiences occur when adventuring on the road. This country has (almost) too much to discover. It feels both overwhelming in its sheer quantity and also exhilarating knowing there will never be an end to the adventure this life has to offer.

 

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Yellowstone: Day 6

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Today was our last day in Yellowstone and I can’t lie, it was pretty disappointing. The entire park was incredibly vacant of all life. There were so little animals that we saw almost nothing. This includes wolves. For the second year I am walking away from Yellowstone without a photo of a wolf. It is disappointing but I can not forget what a wonderful experience I have been blessed with. I got to see a fox, coyotes, eagles, buffalo, big horn sheep, and many other things. I have had a wonderful time but I really want to see the wolves.

Today was a really sparse day. I didn’t take any photos all day because there was absolutely nothing in the park. Near the end of the day we followed a coyote from round prairie to their family. There were four coyotes, a family, all playing and having fun. They were adorable and rambunctious.

They were far away but still really fun to watch as they chased and tackled each other.

After we left the coyotes it started snow extremely hard. Everything in the park was quickly covered in snow. It was beautiful to watch the snow coming down and coating the valley. We found some animals including buffalo covered in the snow. They sit so still that the snow just clings to them as if they were a part of the landscape.

Theses animals were about it for the entire day in the park. Except for the very last stretch of the road were we found a coyote trying to cross the road.

AS always, I wish I didn’t have t leave Yellowstone. There is never enough time to do everything. I hope I can return soon and hope to see and photograph wolves next time.

 

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Yellowstone: Day 4

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Outside our hotel is a group of deer that seem to hang around at all times. This morning they were especially cute; they were all huddled up next to a house trying to stay warm. It is a nice thing to wake up and have wildlife basically sitting on your doorstep.

There was a lot less wind and bad weather today and even some really nice sun that greeted us frequently throughout the day. The remnants of yesterday still remained and the snow plows and blowers were out in full force trying to clear away all the snow off the roads.

It was really fun to watch the snow being jettisoned hundreds of feet into the air. After the roads were cleared we decided to take advantage of the sun and go snow shoeing. We went out to Lost Lake which included a hike through the Petrified Forest, and a beautiful walk through a snowy canyon way tat led to the lake. We also found a kill. it was an old dead buffalo that had been eaten from the inside. It was gruesome but interesting to see.

After our snowshoeing was over we drove around Lamar Valley looking for animals. Sadly still no wolf sightings and in fact there are very little animal sightings at all. It seems like our luck may be changing soon however. We found a beautiful bull elk that we were able to follow for a while. This means that the elk are moving into the valley which means that the wolves should soon follow.

And as our final good sign for our changing luck was a couple of coyotes running across the road right in front of us. They didn’t stay long but we got a couple of pictures.

Tomorrow is a new day and with that we hope, as always, to find and photograph wolves.

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Yellowstone: Day 3

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Today was a snow storm. There was so much snow and wind that it felt like a snow hurricane. At certain times we couldn’t even see the road. This also meant that we didn’t see that much wildlife. Still no sightings of wolves but we saw plenty of other animals. There were a lot of buffalos hanging out in the snow, hunkering down for the storm.

We also had a couple of coyotes run across the road in front of us.

The big horn sheep were out again in their usual spot by the rocky outcroppings. We saw some bulls and some juveniles.

We also we able to get some shots of the pronghorn antelopes as we were leaving the park. They are one of my favorite animals in the park because of their majestic beauty. They are beautiful animals with good markings, ig black eyes, and little horns. There is something so beautiful about them that I find so enticing.

It was too windy and snowy to go snow shoeing but it was still a good day. We are hoping for better weather and always more wolves. Hoping for a better tomorrow.

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Travel Update: Silver Gate

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I couldn’t post last night because we were staying in Silver Gate Montana just one mile outside of the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

We started our day with the Enchanted Highway whihc is almost to the border of North Dakota and Montana. It is a thirty two mile long road that is peppered with statues ranging from ones like this to huge pheasant statues and fisherman. It i really interesting but we only saw the very begining and had to move onward to Roosevelt National Park.

Truthfully there isn’t a whole lot of stuff in Roosevelt National Park but I can guarantee one thing if you go there: great prairie dog shots. There are tons of prairie dog towns along the side of the road and they are quite funny to watch. The funniest thing they would do is squeak and stand up on their hind legs while whipping their arms in the air. It was quite the sight.

By the way none of these are cropped so you can tell just how close I got to these guys. I love their feet and hands, they are surprisingly creepy for such an adorable creature. This has got to be one of my favorite photo of a prairie dog; I caught this one in mid-yawn and it makes him look positively evil.

After that we headed into Montana, the Big Sky state.

We headed down Beartooth Pass which took us to our place of lodging, Silver Gate. Coming over the pass was a little scary because there was a storm and the mountain was cloaked in fog and mist. At some points you couldn’t see anything. It did clear up finally in the end leaving a beautiful day.

After the pass in Silver Gate we checked into our cabins which were these really quaint cabins right outside of the park. Before we even have time to settle I hear my mom yell to me as I am in the bathroom, There’s a coyote right outside!

So naturally I flip out and rip out of the house looking frantically for my camera before he runs off. The neighbors thought I was a mad woman they way I ran out of the cabin. As I snagged my camera and run up the hill behind our cabin I saw him. It wasn’t a coyote, but a red tailed fox with a kill. So I prayed for him not to move so I could get just one shot and I did. I got one shot of him before he took off behind a cabin.

He was one of the most beautiful animals I have seen in a while with his angled face, long neck and color markings. Of course naturally I ran up the hill and into a small ravine looking for him but he had vanished. We hadn’t even been there for five minutes and already I had a wild life shot.

We decided to head into the park with the few hours of day that remained to see if we could spot anything at dusk. We found a big kill out far in a creek bed that had five grizzlies on it. The crowd surrounding the area was enormous even though you could barely discern the grizzlies from the surroundings. It was really interesting to see. I had never seen a grizzly before.

We moved on through the park and found some buffalo that we running around and across the road. We were still a little wary about buffaloes from our trip to Custard where we got charged. So I stayed in the car, standing up through the sunroof to get photos.

We then watched the sun set on Lamar Valley and the rivers. It was so beautiful.

Lamar Valley coated in the fading light of sunset was really a treat. To watch the light change the entire way the valley looked, literally night to day. It was so different and so gorgeous.

The next day was a full morning of Yellowstsone. Stay tuned for me catching up on our trip. There is even better wildlife to come
😀

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Buffalo

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Say hello to Mr. Buffalo from Yellowstone. They were everywhere….

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