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Of all the wildlife in Yellowstone, the wolves attract the most attention. There are people that live near the park who go out every single day to watch for wolves with spotting scopes, binoculars and cameras in hand. Most of the those people are incredibly friendly and ready to help tourists like us to find wolves and see them through the spotting scopes. They know wolves by name or number and they know the packs and which ones we might expect to see. Additionally, the National Park Service and Yellowstone Forever have a Wolf Project that started the week we were there and will continue through the month of March. These researchers were also happy to share any info they had about the wolves and other wildlife. We learned a lot while we were there. We also got a healthy dose of patience waiting to see the famous Lamar pack. These animals’ ancestry can be traced back to the original re-introduction in 1995 and 1996.

We were thrilled to see wolves hunting, eating, resting, playing and moving across the landscape. Overall we saw four different packs and three wolves from a not yet identified pack. Most of the sightings were through a spotting scope on distant hillsides. The Lamar pack had a carcass across a meadow, estimated at 300-400 yards away from the roadside where we waited to see them for hours. At last, near dusk when many of the wolf-watchers had left, they emerged to eat for a while before melting back into the woods.

There were lots of opportunities to watch coyotes in Yellowstone. I’ve read that their population decreased after the wolves returned so maybe we were just in the right spots to see them. They often scavenge on remains of wolf kills. There was a dead, probably winter-killed bison near the road and each time we drove by it, there were two or maybe three coyotes nearby.

I like coyotes and admire their tenacity and adaptability. And I enjoy hearing them howl. They live here but since it always seems to be open season on coyotes, they are very furtive and don’t let themselves be seen very often. Who can blame them?

Here are a few snapshots from our trip to Yellowstone. I was struck by the vast vistas and towering mountains all around us. Every time we stepped out of the car, there was another jaw-dropping scene. The weather was mostly cold with temperatures dipping as low as minus twenty at the start of the trip with sunny skies. Later in the week it warmed up to the twenties and even thirties and there was snowfall, heavy at times. But we were prepared with all of our cold weather gear. I found that my feet got cold in the car while I was wearing my big boots so when we’d drive somewhere I’d remove them and keep the blood flowing to my toes. Occasionally my fingers got cold when I was busy looking through the scope or making photos.

We stayed outside of Gardiner for three nights and in Cooke City for two nights. Cooke City is interesting. It is ‘the end of the road’ for the long winter season. The main transportation around there is by snow machine. We were the odd ones out because we like walking! It was pretty obvious that we were tourists.

During the winter months, the only plowed road in Yellowstone is the one that goes across the north side from Mammoth and out to Cooke City. So the only thermal features we saw were at Mammoth. We spent part of an afternoon walking around the travertine terraces. It’s an ever-changing spot with hot springs drying up in one place showing up new places all the time. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the hot water, the snow, the steam and the frost.

Winter is not a great time for bird diversity in Yellowstone. We probably saw less than a dozen species of birds. Bald and Golden Eagles, American Robin, Barrow’s and Common Goldeneyes, Mallards, American Dipper, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie. I think that’s all.

The goldeneyes were in small mixed groups, diving and feeding most of the time and easily seen from the road. The dippers were busy too, flying up and down the stream, calling to each other. Only once did I get a chance to make photos of them.

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