Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wildlife Tour

We were on time for the Bison-tenial.

Had a day off from driving today because we made like tourists and signed on to a guided tour primarily focused on the Upper Loop of the park. We were in a 20 seater van with huge windows being driven around for about 8 hours. So I'm a bit visually over-stimulated.

The idea of this tour was to go where the animals hang out and view them. We did see bison (not buffalo, technically), mule deer, elk, coyotes, bald eaglets, osprey but no bears. And, sadly but not unexpectedly, no wolves. I'll have to come back in the winter to see canis lupus at their best. We also saw some incredible views, learned about the great fire of 1988 and its aftermath, and got to compare the flora of a couple of different areas of Yellowstone.

This is a shot of Orange Mound (I think that's the name), which is a non-thermal formation in the northern half of the park. The colors are made by lichen which actually stain the white rock these remarkable colors.

I didn't realize how big a role the Grand Canyon and the 250 plus waterfalls play in Yellowstone. I guess, like most Americans, I thought this park is all about geysers; I was wrong. There is SO much to see and experience here that I'm rather overwhelmed (but you couldn't tell that...nah).

Here's a magnificent vista we were luck enough to view late in the afternoon today: