09 January, 2019

Dancing With Wolves...

Twelve years ago, on a winter zig-zag drive up the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, we attempted to visit Yellowstone National Park, but were turned around when the park was closed for one week to clear the roads of snow at the end of the season. The National Park office at the West Gate in Montana informed us that "everyone knows we do this about now", even though it wasn't shown on their website, at least not back then. A winter visit to Yellowstone has been on our bucket list since then.

Sad visitors, unable to enter Yellowstone in 2006!

Albert Bierstadt's rendition of Old Faithful in 1881, from Wikipedia

Yellowstone National Park is at the top left corner of Wyoming, but crosses the border into Montana and Idaho. It was established by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 and is thought to be the world's first National Park. It is centred over the Yellowstone Caldera, a huge super-volcano (one of four in the Rockies), whose current activity is epitomised by the iconic Old Faithful geyser. Old Faithful is reliable but not that regular, with 45-95 minutes between eruptions, so we hope we get to see a good one. Logically, the longer the waiting time, the longer the eruption - eruptions last 90 secs to 5 minutes.

Official Map of Yellowstone National Park, from Wikipedia

Wikipedia says that Yellowstone is "widely considered to be the finest megafauna wildlife habitat in the lower 48 states", and, amongst others, it's the timber wolf and the American bison (pop 3000) that we're hoping to see. We expect (hope?) that the 150 famed grizzly bears, and populous black bears, will be sound asleep!

Portait of a bison in a Yellowstone meadow in summer, by Steven Pribut, from Wikipedia

Wolf in Yellowstone snow, by Barry O'Neill, from Wikipedia

The roads are closed to regular vehicles in winter, but we're going in on a National Geographic Photography Expedition in oversnow transport. There will be 16 of us, plus a guide and a National Geographic naturalist. Non-government commercial operations are still running in the Park, so we're hoping that President Trump's government shutdown will not affect our expedition too much.

The Yellowstone excursion is the purpose of this short USA trip, but apart from that National Park, we'll be relaxing in a few city locations and visiting some friends, so watch out for whatever we post on this blog!