Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Out of the Tetons, Into Yellowstone, and a Near Encounter with a Grizzly (not pictured)

We’ve been without wifi for six days now, so tonight I’m playing catch-up with the blog while we're at a restaurant with free wifi.  

Before I planned this trip, I didn’t realize that Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks were connected, so on Friday, September 1, we drove directly from one park to the other, but there were still parts of the Tetons we had not visited.  On our drive north, we stopped at the historic Cunningham cabin (located at the site of one of the first ranches in the area).  I was most intrigued with the flock of western bluebirds feeding in the area...

...a clump of thistles with the Tetons as a backdrop, and the sage brush and wood fences I like so much.

We had a delicious picnic lunch overlooking Jackson Lake.

And then entered Yellowstone and stopped at overlooks of Lewis River and Lewis

Another surprise for me was the huge Yellowstone Lake.  When one thinks of Yellowstone, the first scenes that come to mind are Old Faithful and some of the other geysers, as well as the abundant wildlife and Tower Falls.  But the park also boasts the largest lake in North America at above 7000 feet in altitude and over 140 miles of shoreline.  We drove along its shoreline for more than an hour as we headed toward the east entrance/exit to the park and the cabin we had rented for the next two nights.  Along the way, we caught glimpses of more geyser basins, burned out areas from past wildfires in the park, and a raven who followed me along a wall overlooking the lake.

Our cozy cabin for two nights was located at Creekside Lodge.  We did not realize it was in grizzly country until we began to notice warning signs and also noted that the local campgrounds allowed only hardsided campers.  Fortunately we had not planned to camp this time.  Also, when the friendly manager greeted us, she warned us not to hike on any of the trails without a can of bear spray. Hmmm…

As we and two other couples were finishing dinner in the lodge, the manager/waitress/ woman- of-all-trades received a call on the walkie-talkie that a grizzly was sighted at the top of the property.  She grabbed a can of bear spray and told us we could follow if we stayed behind her.

So the six of us “ran” (which was hard for me at this altitude) up to the porch of the tack room, where, sure enough, we spotted the grizzly moving at a good pace toward us.  The manager unlocked and opened the door to the tack room and told us to be prepared to get inside immediately when she gave notice.  Fortunately for us, the grizzly spotted a berry bush or some other delicacy and stopped for a treat.  Then the bear simply disappeared in the bushes and trees around it.  Losing sight of it made us much more nervous, thinking it could reappear right in front of us at any moment.  The staff woman, who had first seen it, had her dog with her, so we watched him.  His ears were alert and he was continuing a low growl for several minutes, until he finally visibly relaxed.  I think if I lived there, I would definitely have a dog with me at all times, as an early warning system.  Needless to say, our plans to sit around a campfire and look at the night sky were cancelled.  Sorry—I have no pictures of the grizzly, as we went to dinner without a camera.

The next morning dawned clear and cool, and a warm fire greeted us at breakfast.  We headed back into the park noticing different views from the opposite direction and hoping to see more wildlife from the safety of our car.  No more grizzly sightings, but we did see three elk running into the forest and quite a few bison, trudging alone alongside (or in the middle) of the road.

Our first stop was at the West Thumb Geyser Basin.  You can see Yellowstone Lake in the background of some of these photos.

Then we went on to Old Faithful Lodge (a huge, beautiful old building) and viewed Old Faithful from the second-floor balcony, a perfect location which gives a better perspective of the size of the geyser.

We continued on the grand loop of the park, stopping to view Gibbon Falls, which drops 84 feet and then flows to the Yellowstone Caldera rim.

Later in the afternoon, we got to Tower Falls…

…and later the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Dragon’s Mouth Spring (which literally sounded like a dragon spewing forth fire) and the mud volcano.

By late afternoon, we were mired in Labor Day tourist traffic along the loop.  We did stop to photograph swans on a lake and a herd of bison resting…

And finally, outside the park, a lone porcupine poking along the road.

Next our trip out of Yellowstone and on to Montana.


  1. What beautiful pictures, Edie! I am so enjoying your trip. We did this trip in 2015 and are still talking about it. Debra Chucran

    1. Thanks, Debra! The wifi here is frustrating, and I haven't been able to get all my pictures up. I'll try again tomorrow night.

  2. I forgot to comment on that raven-it reminded me of your sign! Debra

    1. Yes, you're right! It is like the crow (or raven) on our sign. Maybe that's why they seem to follow me around out here in the west.

  3. That is quite a bear story Edie! And I don't know if I'd like driving alongside such a big beast as that bison....or even that porcupine. You are having quite an adventure!

    1. The bear encounter was a little scary, but the bison don't seem to pay any attention to cars at all. The porcupine was kind of cute, but I wouldn't want to touch it!

  4. I love the photos! The waterfalls look amazing. And, I can't imagine how it would feel to see a grizzly bear in person. Gives me the shivers thinking about it! Thank goodness everyone was safe!

    1. Thanks, Susan! It was rather scary to see the grizzly coming towards us, but I felt safe enough that we could all get inside the tack room quickly, if necessary. We've learned that they're really not after people, unless they get in their way or run from them. Then they think humans are prey.


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