There are many different kinds of wildlife in Yellowstone including, bison, wolves, badgers, elk, bears, birds, squirrels, wolverine, lynx, pronghorns, Meese, mountain lions, coyote, and more. Sometimes, you see them from a distance minding their own business, sometimes you see their young almost drown, and sometimes, very rarely, you see them attacking our own species. Animals are awesome, and seeing animals in the wild– not in a zoo– is so cool.
I’m excited to tell you about all the animals we saw.. and why I tried scratching myself against a tree…
Yellowstone Day 1: Why would we wake up at 4:30!?
On June 23rd, we woke up at 4:30 to get to a wildlife viewing tour at Yellowstone. As bad as waking up at 4:30 is, I think it was worth it! We saw a ton of different animals like wolves, bears, bison, and many more. Waking up at 4:30 is not what I normally do, and since there was an hour time change it felt more like 3:30 but when you wake up anywhere from 2-5am it all feels the same.
After we woke up and drove an hour to Yellowstone, we met our guide, Taylor. Taylor was super nice and showed us so much in the park. When we first starting driving in the park we saw wild bison for the first time ever. I didn’t realize that I would see thousands more, and each one seemed cooler than the one before. One interesting thing about Yellowstone is that you don’t really go to certain spots for animals, you just stop on the side of the road if you see one. Also, we had scopes which were like a mix between binoculars and telescopes. The scopes let us see the animals even if they were miles away. The sights were fantastic and we saw some cool things.
Do bears really scratch their butts on trees?
I’m sure that in cartoons you’ve seen bears scratch their butts on trees, but is that really true? I can confirm.. yes!
The first place we stopped, we saw a black bear scratch its butt, back, and head on a tree. It was amazing!
I’ve been thinking… if I ever got an itch, would a tree really help me fix it? I tried this myself (yes, really), and I do not recommend it. It was rough and I don’t want to go into specifics. I’ve been somewhat scared of getting mauled by a bear on hikes, but seeing it scratch its butt on a tree really makes me feel less terrified and gives bears a new characteristic: “butt scratchers”.
After an hour of driving we saw wolves. They were AWESOME! We saw a pack of 14. One wolf had strayed off from the pack and had gone on top of a hill and made a wolf silhouette. It was unreal, I had only seen pictures of wolf silhouettes, but to see it in person was a whole new thing. Also, we heard howling which is extremely rare.
It was surprisingly cold because it was about 7am when we saw them but it was totally worth it. We also saw some wolves playing around with each other and even cross a river. If you decide to go to Yellowstone to see animals, you probably won’t see wolf watching this cool. It was extremely good and our guide hadn’t seen wolf watching this good for months.
Baby bison, please don’t die
Later in the day when we were driving around looking for moose we ended up seeing bison really close to a river. After a few minutes of them looking around we saw them crossing the river. There was about seven adult bison and two baby bison. The river wasn’t very deep nor very strong, but it was strong enough to catch a baby bison in the current.
The baby was swept into the current about half way through and wasn’t able to get back to shore. Unfortunately the mom bison didn’t realize for about 30 seconds until she finished crossing the river. After she realized, she ran straight for her baby. Luckily, after almost drowning about 100ft farther in the river, he got out. The baby was exhausted, and every one that was watching clapped for him. We were all so happy that he survived! After he got out the rest of the herd ran to him. They were like a big happy bison family.
I knew most of the animals in Yellowstone, but I didn’t know what the Pronghorn is. A Pronghorn looks kind of like a deer and is the fastest land animal in North America, reaching speeds of up to 60mph. Fun fact: pronghorns always have twins, but often times a baby pronghorn is eaten. If I were a pronghorn, Piper wouldn’t have a chance.
Bears, moose, coyotes, and more!
We also saw a mama grizzly bear and two cubs but unfortunately didn’t get a great view because they were super far away. Also, we saw moose which was very rare because it was mid-day and usually moose aren’t out in mid-day because it is too hot for them. It wasn’t a male so it didn’t have huge antlers — and she was with her baby! (you can kind of see in the photo below).
Lastly, we saw other animals like badgers, coyotes(right alongside the road), ground squirrels, and more. I wish that I could of seen a wolverine, but with everything I did see, I’m sure I can cross a couple of things off of my bucket list.
Wait… you can hike with llamas?
A few days before we went into the park at Yellowstone, we hiked with llamas! (Basically we hiked while holding llamas on leads.)
I know it sounds crazy but it was pretty fun. There was a lot of excitement, especially near the end of the hike. When we were about fifteen minutes from our final destination, one of the llamas– Theo, who my mom was leading– ran away. Not only did he run away, but he ran away with our backpack! We had no idea where he went for like 25 minutes. Luckily we found him at the barn just a few minutes away from the lodge where we were staying. It was quite exciting and gave us all a good thrill.
Another wildlife activity that we did in Montana just outside Yellowstone was learn to fly-fish. Unlike the others, I really wanted to catch a fish! I tried for three days going out in the evening but either didn’t catch a fish, or no rods were available.
Finally, after a few tries, I caught a fish! I was so happy and so surprised. I started jumping for joy as I was pulling the fish in. I named the fish “Lucky”. After that we decided to go inside because we were getting a ton of mosquito bites. It was so fun to go fly-fishing and I hope I can do it again some day.
Overall seeing wildlife in Yellowstone was pretty amazing. Of course, the other amazing thing is all the geysers and hot springs … but you’ll have to wait for the next blog post to hear about those!