Category Archives: Wildlife

2012 Western Road Trip: A Grand Visitor Center

It took us a little over an hour to make our way from the north entrance of Grand Teton National Park to Moose, Wyoming, location of the main visitor center and the area we would be staying. We knew we were visiting in the off-season, but we had no idea how off the season still was in Grand Teton. The visitor center in Moose was the only one open in the park. Most park lodging was still closed. At first, we thought this might become a major problem. Where would we eat? What would we do? But ultimately, it forced us to explore the nearby town of Jackson, Wyoming. And for that, I am very grateful.

So, let’s talk about the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center in Moose. Hands down, it is the most incredible national park visitor center I have seen.

Craig Thomas Visitor Center

Moose Statue

Visitor Center

The center houses beautiful exhibits about the people, animals, and activities of Grand Teton National Park. After making our way around the space, we took in the center’s movie. I don’t remember much about the movie, but I do remember the ending. The screen actually hangs in front of a huge black curtain. At the end of the movie, the screen rises and the curtain opens to reveal a perfect view of the Teton range. So cool!

We managed to time our visit to the center perfectly between rain showers. All was clear when we were ready to leave and get to our lodging for our time in the park. We were staying at Dornans, also in Moose, just down from the visitor center. As we drove between the two places, we spotted our first moose!

Our First Moose

Moose Eating

Going into the trip, Jason really hoped to see a moose. We didn’t see any in Yellowstone, which we learned wasn’t too uncommon. We had heard of people having much better luck in Grand Teton. I was so happy that Jason got his moose (more than one at that). And I must admit, it was a pretty cool thing to see.

We knew we were in for a couple of rainy days during this leg of the trip. But after our initial hours, the weather didn’t worry us at all. We had a good feeling about Grand Teton.

2012 Western Road Trip: Leaving Yellowstone

After about two and a half days exploring Yellowstone National Park, it was time to leave. Our next destination: Grand Teton National Park.

Lucky for us, we had two more wildlife encounters on our way south. First, we saw our grizzly family in the same place again. But this time, they were SUPER close to the road. There were rangers overseeing the situation from both directions along the road to keep people from easily approaching the bears.

Grizzly Family 1

Grizzly Family 2

Grizzly Family 3

Grizzly Family 4

Down the road, we got caught in our final bison jam. It was a doozie. We were stuck for about an hour. As the herd would weave from one lane to another, traffic in the open lane would move. Traffic jams like this are a little less frustrating when you’re in such a beautiful place.

Another Bison Jam

Yellowstone is not a small place, so it was a long drive from Mammoth Hot Springs to the park’s south gate. Eventually, we caught glimpses of what awaited us.

More Mountains Ahead

Goodbye Yellowstone

Hello Grand Teton

Nothing could have prepared us for seeing the Tetons for the first time. I believe we were both in awe as we drove. Thanks to the breaking clouds, the scene was made even more dramatic.

The Tetons

There are turnouts all along the roads through the park, each offering a slightly different view of the mountains. We only stopped at a couple as we made our way to Moose, where we would be staying.

Mount Moran

Tetons 1

Tetons 2

And finally, we found our first Stephen Mather plaque. Maybe it was a sign that this was to become another special place in our hearts…

Stephen Mather Plaque in Teton

2012 Western Road Trip: Baby Bison!

If there was one thing we saw a lot of during our time in Yellowstone, it was bison. Even though we saw them everywhere, it didn’t get old. It was especially fun since each run-in was exciting:

After leaving the Artist Paintpots, we continued south along the Grand Loop Road en route to Old Faithful. It was easy to get lost in the beautiful scenery, but those curving roads can hide dangers around the corner. Dangers like bison jams.

First Bison Jam

We came around a corner to find this group of bison just strolling along. It was the first bison jam we were in, and we were the front car coming from our direction. We had a moment of wondering what to do. Just so you know, there really isn’t anything you can do. So we just waited them out.

Fun facts: Bison don’t really walk in a straight line. Bison definitely don’t walk fast. And in a bison jam situation, they will walk very close to your car.

A Little Close for Comfort

As this big boy got closer to the car, I told Jason that he should roll up his window. His response: “How would that help? When it rams the car, I get showered with glass from the rolled up window?”

Good point.

We were clearly driving through a hotbed of bison activity because shortly after getting through the bison jam, we discovered a hillside covered in them.

Bison Herd

The absolute best thing about this bison herd was the sheet number of baby bison (I know they’re called calves, but I like baby bison better 😀 ). They were the cutest things ever!

Baby Bison!

I was a very giddy girl each time I saw a bison calf. And I got to enjoy this frolicking pair for several minutes thanks to…

Why Did the Bison Cross the Road?

You don’t get anywhere quickly when traveling through Yellowstone.

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