Winter Adventures in Yellowstone
This week kicked off my big season of week-long winter Yellowstone wildlife expeditions. It was a phenomenal group of travelers, and we had some truly memorable experiences along the way. The ride into Yellowstone's interior came complete with a howling blizzard and a foot of fresh powder that our snow coaches could barely stay on top of. Once the weather cleared the next day, we had a beautiful ride past many of the park's most impressive hot springs and steaming mountains.
The entire town of Cooke City lost power overnight, requiring us to find our way to the Bistro by flashlight, and eat breakfast by candlelight next to their big wood fire. Though it wasn't part of the plan, the episode brought the group together, and added a sense of adventure to our day in the Northern Range.
After four days of zero wolf sighting anywhere in the park, we were treated to a pair of wolves feeding on an elk carcass at daybreak. Our group and two wolf biologists were the only people watching wolves in the park. Perhaps the only people watching wild wolves in the whole country.
At one point, we spotted a coyote following a packed-down game trail, scavenging for food and hunting small rodents under the snow. Realizing his trajectory, we positioned ourselves near his eventual route, and he continued past us unperturbed.
Highlights of the week also included great bighorn sheep, moose, and elk viewing around Jackson Hole. The lower elevations of this valley and the milder, windswept environs makes this area a mecca for wildlife. These sheep manage to cling to impossibly steep cliffs, leaping gracefully between promontories.
After a long day of wildlife watching in Northern Yellowstone, euphoric from all we had seen, we stopped at Round Prairie and watched the sun set on the Absarokas Mountains before heading up the pass into Cooke City for the night.