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Return to the Amazing Wildlife of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks


Grizzly Bear of Yellowstone National Park

We love spring in Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks. The animals are active as the bears coming out of hibernation with their newly born cubs; the moose are having their calves; and the bison are delivering their "red dogs"! The weather is perfect usually in the mid 50's to low 60's and the air is crisp at night and warm during they day. There is snow on the mountain peaks and the trees and flowers are just beginning to bloom.

“This trip was unusual for us. We found more wildlife in Yellowstone than the Grant Teton park especially between Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs and near Tower-Roosevelt in Yellowstone. The number of bear and moose we saw each day between Yellowstone and the Teton parks exceeded 10 sightings daily!"

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

I will preface this by saying that we were so fortunate to have visited Yellowstone this year before the unprecedented rain and flooding. The devastation is heartbreaking. Yellowstone is a special destination and it is unimaginable that something like this could devastate the northern portion of the park. Our thoughts are prayers are with those residents living in that area and to the tourists that were impacted.


Yellowstone was the highlight of our trip for wildlife this year. We typically watch the social media sites before we travel to the parks so we know where there are wildlife sightings.

This year seems to be the year for bear, moose, and coyote sightings in Yellowstone. I follow several sights on Facebook where photographers post their photos and many times they list where they saw the wildlife. It gives us a location to head to every day.


While we stayed in the Tetons at the Teton Village and daily we started out by 7:30 or 8:00 a.m., we tried to be back to the Tetons by 7:30 p.m. to look for wildlife at dusk in the Teton park. While the days are long, there is much to see along the way. We traveled through the Tetons to head to Yellowstone so there were many sites to see and wildlife to view on the route. We traveled to Yellowstone two full days and then headed to Yellowstone on our last day and then drove home from the Northeast entrance. We spent three days in the Tetons and three days in Yellowstone. Just enough time to see the beautiful landscapes and the wildlife.


The highlight of Yellowstone was the black bear sow and her two three month old cubs. They were at the Tower-Roosevelt attraction in the back of the woods and trees at the back of the parking lot. It was so fun to watch them and most likely a once in a lifetime experience to have them so close to us. The rangers were nearby ensuring everyone's safety and ensuring the bears were not crowded. The rangers told us that one bear was cinnamon color and the other was a black bear because the sow had mated with two males the year prior and got pregnant by both males! Interesting fact! The cute family is below!


The two grizzly bears that were close to the road was Obsidian, a female sow, and her suitor, a large unnamed male. The day before we arrived Obsidian and the male bear were in the field and many of the photographers saw one of Obsidian subadult cubs that she had pushed out on their own earlier in the spring, approach them. The male grizzly got aggressive and severely injured the subadult cub. It had to be put down due to injuries. It was a horrible sight and upset many people but the ranger had to remind us this is nature for grizzly bears. This is their way of life. While upsetting, this is not unusual with about 50% of the young cubs under two not making it to adulthood. It is an awakening...these are grizzly bears...deadly and aggressive animals. Remember to be safe and keep your distance! Photograph with a long lens and always have bear spray with you.

Below is Obsidian and her male boar suitor!

We had other wildlife settings in Yellowstone Park. We saw several more bear, bison, fox, and a wolf. The key to finding wildlife is to be patient. You may have to driver for a couple of hours until you spot something or until you run into a bear or moose jam with cars lining the highway. We just enjoy the scenery while looking for that wildlife moment!



GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

We like to stay in Jackson, Wyoming near the Grand Teton National Park. This trip we stayed in the Teton Village, near the Granite Canyon entrance of the park. Unfortunately, the entrance was closed due to road construction on the back road that leads to the Moose entrance in the park. It made for a longer trip every day to get from Teton Village into the Teton National park. We like the Granite Canyon entrance because it is the secluded back road that is partially gravel that winds through a wooded area. We usually have a great deal of luck spotting moose and black bear in that area. The road work will be finished by the end of the summer making for a much safer roadway but I also think it will be busier after it is finished. Those that didn't like to drive on gravel and a bumpy road, will have a freshly paved road to search for wildlife!


Overall, the Teton Village was a wonderful base for our daily expeditions. The Village is very quiet in the spring time of year. We stayed at the Alpenhof Hotel...a swiss style hotel nestled at the foot of the mountain. The place was extremely clean, great parking, wonderful friendly staff, and a full made to order breakfast daily! I would definitely stay there again!

The Moose-Wilson Road where the Teton Village is located is a perfect location to see moose in the evening hours before dark. We also saw several Osprey, a mountain bluebird, and a fox. We are never disappointed in staying in the Jackson area near the Grand Teton National Park!


The highlight of our visit this time to the Tetons was the newborn baby moose! We happened to stumble upon this amazing site. On the Moose-Wilson Road at the overlook by the small pond, we saw several cars but no people. The people were gathered on a patch taking photos of the moose and its newborn. They said it had been born about 2 hours earlier. The mom moose was still cleaning it off. We were able to get to see the baby moose stand for the first time. It was an incredible site! Probably a once in a life time photography moment! The photos of the experience are below.

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There were other sites in the Teton Park. The gorgeous mountains and the other animals. We were fortunate to come across a black bear and her three cubs hanging out in the trees by the main Highway 89 road before Colter Bay. We got to watch them cross the road too. We saw many moose this time in the Tetons in addition to the one above with her new baby in the photos above. We also saw big horn sheep. We have never seen a whole herd of them in the park. They were laying on a hillside on Gross Ventre Road. I was delighted to see an Osprey and a Mountain Bluebird and took a good close-up shots! Of course seeing a fox hunting is a fun experience. They way they jump and pounce on their prey! We were a little disappointed this time...Bear 399 had kicked out her cubs about a week before we arrived. We thought we would still see them roaming alone and drove the Pacific Creek Road many times but had no luck. Have to hope in future years, they have cubs of their own and we see them again one day.


One thing that concerned us, was that the water was unusually low in the Jackson Lake. We couldn't believe the lake was as low as it was. It appears they will not be boating on the lake this summer unless things change and they get more rain. They say it is definitely a sign of global warming!


When and Where to See Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone Park

People always ask how to see wildlife and how do I get the photos. My advice, be PATIENT and have a good 35mm camera and zoom lens! I have a Canon EOS 90D camera with a Tamron 150mm to 600mm zoom. I also have a Canon T7i Rebel Camera with an18mm to 400 mm Tamron lens. My husband shoots with the T7i. Good photos take time and a lot of luck. You have to be at the right place at the right time. In general no matter your park or location, going out early morning just after sunrise and taking a break mid-day and then going back out around 4:00 p.m. late afternoon until dark are the best times of day to see Moose. They say that about bear too but we have seen the bear at all times of day. That does not necessarily hold true for moose. Moose tend to come and hang out in marshy areas in the evening hours. In any event, no matter what you see for wildlife, respect their distance to keep you safe and to keep them safe.


In all of my Grand Teton research they said that Oxbow Bend was a place to see moose but we didn't see one moose in that location. Moose-Wilson Road was the best location to see moose in the evening hours. You may also spot bear along that road both morning and evening. Pilgrim Creek area and Colter Bay are other areas you may see black bear or grizzly bear. 399 supposedly had a den in the Pilgrim Creek area so we spent some time driving that gravel road but never had any luck spotting her there.


Yellowstone is more of a hit and miss with the animals until this trip! Many times you will see people pulled over with binoculars looking at a mountain goat or a bear way up on the mountainside but on this trip, many of the bears were near the road. You will also see people using telescopes looking for wolves in the Slough Creek area in the Lamar Valley. They say you can occasionally see them up close but we were fortunate to see them through a telescope on other trips. This time we saw one in the trees heading up the mountain about 75 yards from us. The closest we have been to a wolf. Another visitor was looking at 4 large wolves and 6 baby wolf pups through their telescope up the mountain side. We couldn't see them with our binoculars so they offered for us to see them through their telescope. It was very cool to see!


TIPS TO TRAVEL ECONOMICALLY AND GET THE MOST FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY

I also get asked many times, "How do you travel so often and keep it affordable?" A few tips are below:

  • For me, planning and researching is part of the excitement of the trip! Visioning is so much fun!!!

  • I plan all of my own trips and research, research, research on the internet. I utilize TripAdvisor, Frommer's, and blogs from other travelers to find the information I need for my trip. I do ALOT of reading and researching. It takes patience to plan a good affordable trip!

  • I have a budget in mind for each trip and challenge myself to stay in the budget. Depending on the location, I typically start planning and booking hotels, cars, etc., approximately 9 months out. Hotel prices usually get more expensive the closer to the trip unless you are willing to do a last minute internet deal. Car rental and airline prices also go up the closer it is to your trip. Occasionally you can get a last minute deal but something else may be more expensive and you are really not saving. I like to plan!

  • For hotels, I use Booking.com, or Priceline.com. I look for hotels with good reviews, pay when you stay, and free cancellation in advance.

  • We have done all-inclusive in a couple of tropical locations years and years ago but found that we do not eat and drink enough to make it worth the extra expense. We like to go off site from the hotel and experience the local cuisine and traditions. We have not done all-inclusive in the last 15 years. However, all-inclusive is wonderful if you want to stay at the resort for all meals, not rent a car, and have the hotel shuttle you to your destinations. That has worked for us in Jamaica and it was very relaxing! But I would not drive in Jamaica so all-inclusive was the smartest option! If you enjoy all-inclusive, the earlier you book the trip the lower the price. Unless you are game and are not a planner, and are willing to travel where the last minute deal is advertised. Then you could get a great all-inclusive deal!

  • If we are flying, I use the Skyscanner app to check airfare prices and I try not to buy until about 60 to 75 days out. There are times where I will by earlier if the price is super reasonable. I usually do not book on Skyscanner. It will tell me the site that is the most affordable to purchase the tickets and if it is a more well known trust site, I go directly to the site to purchase the tickets. Many times Skyscanner will take you right to the airline website. Skyscanner will search all airlines and will sort by price, times, shortest trip, etc.

  • Have a credit card that gives you miles or hotel points. We will use points for many of our trips. We are American Advantage members and have an Advantage credit card. We try to fly American as often as we can to earn points and then use those points for future airline tickets. Our credit card is tied to our Advantage numbers and awards points as well.

  • We drive if the location is in the United States and we can drive and sightsee along the way. If we need to rent a car, we reserve online using Booking.com, Orbitz.com, or Priceline.com. They are usually the most reasonable. I watch for specials and never book a luxury vehicle! We also have a credit card with a low limit that we use for vehicle rentals that provides insurance as a credit card benefit. We always decline the insurance when we are in the United States. If we are traveling out of the United States, we check with the credit card if the insurance is valid internationally. We have found it is valid in Europe, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, but in other locations, we are forced to purchase the liability insurance from the rental car company.

  • While there are free maps online for most destinations, I always go onto Amazon and buy a map of my destination, especially if it is international. I do not buy maps for tropical Caribbean islands. I just get one when we arrive. But for countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, England, Canada, Germany, France, etc., I always purchase a good map. As you do you research, you can use the map to highlight the places you want to visit and the sites you want to see. I have it as a reference later for putting my memories and photos into a photobook!




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