The American Buffalo

Yellowstone National Park

August 21, 2016

The American bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American buffalo or simply buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds.  They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle, and have made a recent resurgence largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves.

It is a wonderful experience to watch the herds of buffalo roam freely on the wild open spaces in Hayden Valley and along the Yellowstone River.

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A tired-looking family unit takes a rest top for the little ones to nap.

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If you weighed a ton, you might enjoy a sit in the sunshine too.

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Could be twins….

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There always seems to be a watchful eye around the young.

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a portrait of this peaceful animal.

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The Maple Fire

Yellowstone National Park

August 18, 2016

While staying in West Yellowstone, MT, we have enjoyed access to Yellowstone National Park from the West Entrance along the Madison River.  Fires are a fact of life in Yellowstone with many historic fire damage still very evident.

The Maple fire was detected Monday evening, August 8 by a smoke jumper aircraft passing over the park. It is located in a large expanse of the 1988 North Fork fire scar, 1 mile east of the Gneiss Creek trail, 3 miles north of the Cougar Creek cabin, 6 miles east of the Park’s west boundary, and 8 miles northeast of the community of West Yellowstone.  It has burned 12,199 acres to date with smoke evident in West Yellowstone.  I clicked this pic on Sunday night from our campsite.  The fire is 8 miles northeast of West Yellowstone and burning in a northerly direction so we were in no danger.  Unless the winds changed…..

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We got out early this morning to shoot the dawn light and discovered that the smoke had thickened in the park.  Here is an image shot from the banks of the Madison River near Three Brothers Mountain.  The sun was burning through the smoky skies.

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The forest was very quiet with the heavy smoke in the air.

_DSC8271_2_3_2016-08-18-Madison-Rv-woods-smoky-sunrise-ortnLater in the morning, I walked along the scenic banks of the Nez Perce Creek with smoke still in the air.

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the Yellowstone wildlife and landscapes

Yellowstone National Park

August 17, 2016

We are nearing the end of our stay at Yellowstone but have enjoyed the park every day.  The landscapes are truly unique here and the wildlife is amazing.  An early morning view near Grand Prismatic Springs.  The ridge in the background is the volcano tabletop.  Yes, remember we are standing in the caldera.

_DSC8184_5_6_2016-08-17-Grand-Prismatic-ortnThis is called a bacteria mat near Grand Prismatic Springs.  The colors are caused by different types of bacteria that can survive the extreme thermal temperatures.

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We watched this pair of sandhill cranes from quite a distance.  Every time I took a step closer, they took 10 back.

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Have seen Trumpeter Swans on the Yellowstone River (could not get close enough for a shot), Swan Lake and here on the Firehole River.  This famous bachelor often poses on this small sandbar.

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While waiting for White Dome Geyser to erupt, I spotted these two buffalo fighting over a dust hole.  Nothing like a good dirt bath.

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Spotted these two elks, grazing along the steaming Firehole River near Black Sands Basin.  They were very curious of the crowd that gathered to watch them.

DSC_8463_2016-08-16-Black-Sands-Basin-elk-d300-Firehole-Rvr-steam-tonemappedLet me know when you have seen enough elk images.  This gentle soul was taking a drink from the Madison River early Sunday morning.

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Found a nice picnic spot along the Nez Perce Creek.  The famous Nez Perce Trail passes through the park.

_DSC7985_6_7_2016-08-14-Nez-Perce-Creek-ortnA young elk grazes under the watchful eye of a buck along the Firehole River. I must admit that I was focused on the young one and did not see the buck stick his head into the frame.

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Yellowstone magic

Yellowstone National Park

August 9, 2016

Yellowstone is a very special and unique place where wildflowers bloom in the lower geyser basin and the ground steams from many geysers and paint pots along the beautiful Fire Hole River.  I took some liberties and added canvas to this image as the plain blue sky lacked drama.

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We stopped at Mt Haynes this morning to enjoy the view and watch the fly fishermen wade into the water along the Madison.

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The Nez Perce Creek flows into an open valley where buffalo often roam.

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A pair of buffalo taking a drink before crossing the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley.

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A young elk buck grazing along the Madison River early one morning.  You can see the ears of young elk in the grass on the left.

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Elk grazing along the Madison.  All the elk look very healthy this year.

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The Yellowstone Experience

West Yellowstone, MT

August 8, 2016

We have been exploring the Yellowstone National Park and finding many great landscapes and wildlife.  Staying near the west entrance gives us the opportunity to drive along the beautiful Madison River.

_DSC6392_3_4_2016-07-28-YNP-Madison-Rvr-ortn-pmOne of the most powerful sights in Yellowstone is the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River as it flows through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

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We spent some time waiting for the Great Fountain Geyser to erupt in the Lower Geyser Basin.  It was worth the wait.

_DSC7165-2016-08-02-Fountain-Geyser-smlThe wildflowers are blooming along the Madison River near Mt. Haynes.  A lovely place to hike and enjoy the river.

_DSC7574_5_6_2016-08-06--Madison-Rv-ortnThe wildlife is just amazing and a thrill to spot them in the wild.  We watched a very large herd of buffalo come down from the hillsides, cross the Yellowstone River and head into Hayden Valley to graze.  A wonder to see.

DSC_7385-2016-07-29-YNP-Hayden-Valley-buffalo-ortn-txtA lone elk grazing along the Madison.  I was pressed to a large boulder and watched it graze for quite a while.  The camera noise finally gave me away.

DSC_7516-2016-08-05-Elk-Madison-Rvr-am-crp-enhanceda gray wolf

_DSC6537-2016-07-31-Grizzly-Wolf-DCGrizzly bear

_DSC6735-2016-07-31-Grizzly-Wolf-dc-grizzlyThe iconic Bald Eagle.

_DSC6859-2016-08-01-Grizzly-Wolf-DC-bald-eagle-crpCanada Geese are plentiful along the Madison.

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on the road again

Mexican Hat, Utah

The Valley of the Gods

We are happily back on the road again after a much needed break.  Did not exactly escape the heat of Phoenix in Monument Valley where is was over 100 degrees.  Headed to the little monument valley called the Valley of the Gods.  It is a scenic sandstone valley that features stunning geologic formations.  The statuesque formations are sculpted from Cedar Mesa sandstone dating to the Permian period, around 250 million years ago.  Eroded by water, wind and ice over millions of years, the rock was carved into the unique buttes, monoliths (single massive stone or rock), pinnacles and other geological features as seen today.

A view of the Navajo Warriors defending the Valley for eternity.

_DSC6053_4_5_2016-07-24-Valley-of-Gods-ortna jeep view of the winding road through the valley on a hot summer morning.

_DSC6044_5_6_2016-07-24-Valley-of-Gods-jeepOne of the unique monuments in the valley.

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