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  • Writer's pictureJohn J King II

Back to Yellowstone: Autumn in the Super Volcano

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Our fascination with Yellowstone National Park continues. We have just returned after completing our 4th visit to the Park in the past three years and our 3rd visit in the past sixteen months. America’s oldest National Park is blessed with four distinct seasons, each with it’s own remarkable climate, weather and wildlife activity. On this visit our goal was to explore the park in Autumn, timing our trip to be able to enjoy the changing of colors, which peak quickly in a matter of a week or two and signal the return of snow and the onset of winter. Our timing was perfect.

The skies were clear and the temperatures in the early morning when we entered the park an hour before sunrise were cold, typically in the high 20s and low 30s. Over the day the temperatures gradually rose up into the 50s and 60s even at the higher altitudes. Often there was a layer of ground fog which created drama in revealing activity around carcasses on some mornings after animals were taken the evening before.

During our visit the elk population were well into their “rutting” season and the powerful Bull bugle calls could be heard especially in the earliest hours of the day. The Elk bulls were magnificent to behold and all but ignored our presence as we observed them declaring their dominance among their cow harems.

Bison (below) determined to cross the Yellowstone River

Bull moose giving us "the look" at Round Prairie, near Lamar Valley

Mule deer

Yellowstone River near Hayden Valley

Bald Eagle - Lamar Valley

Western coyote hunting rodents in the Lamar Valley

Red tailed hawk hovering

Beartooth Highway vista

Northern harrier, Hayden Valley

The Gardiner River

Harlequin ducks (females) but where are the males?

Sandhill Crane feeding

American Dipper

On this morning we finally located the Great Grey Owl in dense forest on the edge of a clearing near Hayden Valley. We watched it swoop down and catch a voll; smothering it with its massive 5 - 6 foot wingspan!

The the "Nine mile Sow" also known as "Snow"with her young of the year spring cubs. The cubs have been nicknamed "Storm" and "Rain" owing to their birth during a spring storm.

Trumpeter swan cygnetes (young)

Red tailed hawk

A Pika bellows (squeaks) in the rocks known as the Hoo doos.

Wolf sighting below from our trip in May 2022. A young female moving south out of Mammoth Hot Springs area. We a couple of great (but distant) wolf sightings of 7 members of the Junction Butte Pack feeding on a bison carcass. Watched through a scope but we were too distant to get images.

Ravens were ubiquitous and as clever as ever

The Sheepeater Cliffs are a series of exposed cliffs made up of columnar basalt in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The lava was deposited about 500,000 years ago during one of the periodic basaltic floods in Yellowstone Caldera, and later exposed by the Gardner River. (from Wikipedia)

Our merry band including our fabulous guide, Nolan Darr (rt) of Yellowstone Journeys in Gardiner, MT

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