Mr. Cuddly

Apparently I have this inclination to give animals cute names that are the exact opposite of their true nature. Earlier this summer I named a turtle "Mr. Speedy". Now I am calling a Grizzly Bear "Mr. Cuddly".

On Wednesday of last week, Tammy and I decided to drive out to Lamar Valley within Yellowstone National Park. The road within the park that leads to the park's northeast entrance takes you through Lamar Valley. Lamar Valley was billed as an excellent location to see wildlife, including bears and wolves. Since Tammy and I were staying in West Yellowstone, and Lamar Valley was on the opposite side of the park (about a 70 mile drive), and the wildlife in Lamar Valley is best found at sunrise, we had a very early start.

It was worth it. We did see a Grizzly Bear. I had to use my spotting scope, cranked up to 60x magnification, in order to get a good look. The other folks who were stopped at the same pull-out were thankful that I had my scope. I tried to digiscope a photo through my scope, but the light was just too low at 60x magnification. The first picture below was taken with my 100-400mm lens all the way out to 400mm. That little black dot in the center of the picture is the grizzly :-)

We also briefly saw a pair of wolves. They were present, right next to the grizzly, for just a few seconds, and then they disappeared. No one could relocate them after that, and there was no time at all to get a photo. That was the only wolf sighting I had during this trip. Other large mammals within Lamar Valley include the more abundant American Bison, and Pronghorn Antelope.

Ironically, as we were driving out of Lamar Valley, on our way to Mammoth for some lunch, we ran into a huge traffic jam. It was caused by another grizzly, who was very near the road. There were lots of stopped cars, and people out of their cars taking photos. We were lucky because we arrived at the traffic jam right behind a park ranger. The park ranger began telling people to move their cars, and to get back into their cars, and to use the official pull-outs instead of just stopping anywhere they pleased. This meant that we got to drive through the area immediately, as the traffic jam cleared, and Tammy got a couple choice photo opportunities from the passenger seat (including a couple with my #2 below). We then pulled over at a nearby "official" pull-out, and I snapped a few more photos using my 100-400mm lens (photos #3 and #4).

[edit: corrected mileage for drive to Lamar and added link to Google map]

Distant Grizzly
Roadside Grizzly
Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear

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