Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Day Trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone

We arrived in Mountain Home on a Monday evening, and that Saturday we decided to take a drive to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It's really only a five hour drive, so not that bad at all. In Ohio, we lived six hours from the Smoky Mountains and we drove down there all the time! We just had to go see this beautfil place again, the last time we were there was 2009.
So, we woke up bright and early (5am), packed up the Dakota since we'd be gone all day and set out on our way. The plan was to drive to Jackson and into the Tetons and come back home. Well, on the way we decided we would be so close to Yellowstone, we should go there too! We are incredibly spontaneous.
Just before Jackson there was this beautiful put-in for kayakers. We got out to stretch all of our legs and take some pictures.
I can see why it's popular with the kayakers - we're definitately not up for rapids like that yet. : )

We got into Teton and stopped at the first visitor's center and spent some money. Bought a few things, including a Teton ornament. We've started collecting Christmas ornaments from the National Parks we visit together as another way to commemorate our travels. Plus, I love spending money in parks, any way to give back!
Just a little ways north of the visitor's center we saw a few cars along the side of the road. We thought  it might be an elk-jam considering the area...but it was just for magpies!

Just kidding! It was for this gorgeous grizzly right by the road. Within minutes of our arrival a ranger showed up to usher people away, the bear was really close to the road. Digging for grubs and paying us no mind. It's my best grizzly shot to date. 

We wound our way further north and reached Yellowstone. We drove slow, and stopped a lot, just taking in the scenery and trying to find all the birds we could!

I was seeing these large gray birds flying in the trees and whenever we would stop to try and ID them, they were gone. I was starting to think they were Clark's Nutcrakers. But, finally there was a pair eating some roadkill. Pleasantly posing for photos before we drove on and we found out they were Gray Jays. Still, a new species for me!

We stopped at the Old Faithful area and checked out their new visitor's center. This building was under construction when we were here last. It's quite beautiful. We didn't buy anything, the larger gift shop was closed for the season. We'll have to go back next summer, shucks!

We left through West Yellowstone around 5pm. After seeing the standard bison and large bull elk. The rivers along here were super busy with flyfisher people. And I can see why, fish and beautiful scenery, what could be better?
As we left the park I called my mom to tell her about our awesome day. I told her about all we'd seen and we lamented that I had not seen a moose. I'd never seen a moose in the wild, despite them being one of my favorite animals from a very young age. Andrew and I took a scenic road as a last minute decision and down the road a ways I saw something large crossing the road. Andrew started speeding forward to reach it. I was frantically reaching for my binoculars thinking maybe it was a large cow and saw it was a...

As soon as I realized what it was my eyes started to tear up and I was telling Andrew I was going to cry! I managed to stay calm enough to take some pictures and enjoy this awesome, gangly, young bull moose wander into the woods.
It was all kinds of magical.
What a wonderful Saturday it was, we even made it home by midnight! 

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