Yellowstone National Park
May, 2000

Artist Point is more spectacular than I could capture on camera.  The rocks are filled with so many colors.  With the right mixture of clouds and sunlight it's no wonder where it got it's name.
This is the Yellowstone River cutting through this canyon.  There are two spectacular waterfalls here, the Upper and Lower falls. 

In the picture at the right, at the top of the falls on the right hand side, you can barely see where a trail ends at the overlook. 

Mitch and Max really liked Artist Point and wanted to come back again.  But it wasn't the beauty that attracted them -- it was the staircase's hand railing.

This was an interesting time of year to be camping in Yellowstone.  The Park had just opened for the season and the hibernating wildlife were just starting to roam around.  There were many "Bear Management" areas -- areas that are closed to the public because of high bear activity.  This is the time of year that bears feed on elk and other animals that died during the winter and were buried under snow.  We found out that you DO NOT want to be near one of these feeding areas -- it is very dangerous.  Our campground, Fishing Bridge, bordered these areas, (you are only permitted to camp at Fishing Bridge in hard-sided vehicles).  Needless to say, we kept a close eye on the kids while they were playing outside.
A mile down the road from our campsite was a mother grizzly and her two cubs.  They would hang out in the meadow or cross the street to a small lake.  We'd go down there a couple a times a day to see if we could get a good close up of her. 

It seemed that each time we arrived, other people had stories about how the bears had just passed by or had been seen chasing an elk. 

One morning I went out early and met a couple of people who told me about an interesting encounter they had just had.  They had been looking toward the lake when suddenly a large male grizzly came running up from the meadow behind them.  (There's a slight knoll just off the road so they couldn't see him coming).  They started to scramble for their cars but before they could get in, the bear ran right past them as if they weren't even there.  This all happened about ten minutes before I got there and one guy with two real young kids was still somewhat shaken as he told the story.
We went for a hike on a trail that goes to the bottom of a waterfall.  It has a 500 step iron stairway that is fastened to the rock cliff.  Mitch wanted to push this tree over into the river a couple a hundred feet below.  Cheryl had a fit worrying that he would slip past the tree and gave a resounding NO!

We didn't make it all the way down the trail.  There was still two feet of snow along the pathway that was protected by the shade of the cliff.


We went as far as we could but then came to a sign that said that the trail was closed from that point.  There weren't many people on this trail and we were still nervous about what we'd do if we met up with a bear.

Although we never met a bear on this or any other trail, we did find this track in the snow. 

There are a lot of signs warning people not approach the bison.  We talked with one of the park's workers who had a bison charge his small car.  He and his wife were stopped along the side of the road watching animals.  A bison was moving toward him so he started driving away.  Since it was a car with a small engine that he towed behind his motorhome, he wasn't able to get quick acceleration.  He described his experience like the scene from the movie Jurassic Park.  As he accelerated, the bison got closer and closer.  When the bison got just inches from the car he finally gained enough speed to avoid him.  He said that it couldn't decide whether to take the time to shift gears or just keep the pedal to the floor.  Whew!  He assumed that the bison was sick or injured, because this situation is a rarity.
At the Mud Pots Trail we walked on a boardwalk for about a half a mile.  Along the way we passed several bison.  (Boy, are they huge)!!  One of them was within ten feet of the trail.  We didn't stop to take pictures.  Max said that if I pointed the camera at them, they might think it was an eye and may not like the way it was looking at them.  Along the way we had to wait for five minutes for one to move off of the boardwalk.

By the way, do you know the difference between a Bison and a Buffalo?

We also saw mountain sheep, large ravens, coyotes, trumpeter swans, lots of white pelicans and several moose.  This coyote was hanging out along the road trying to mooch some food.  He would get a car to stop and then stand there looking for a handout.  When another car came, the first driver would move on but the next car would stop.  Then he'd try to beg a meal from them.
And of coarse, we saw more Bison.

Buffalo was a name given by the English since the animal looked similar to a water buffalo.  Bison is the real name of these animals.  Beside "Bison Bill's Wild West Show" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "Buffalo Bill's".
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