I knew that we would see bison on our trip out west. There is a herd located on Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, and I was fairly sure we would see one or two in Yellowstone. In reality, you are pretty likely to literally drive into a bison in Yellowstone if you are not paying attention.
When we first entered the park, we thought the bison were so cool, and would slow down or stop to gawk and take photos, thinking we were seeing the best bison photo opportunities ever. I am sure we annoyed some folks who were in cars behind us. Towards the end of our trip, however, we realized that bison were very common, and we began to scoff at the other tourists who were stopping for every little bit of bison that they noticed while driving through the park.
One of the deceiving things about bison is how dangerous they are. They seem very docile, slow and pretty dopey. Statistics from Yellowstone National Park, however, record a different tale: bison charge a human an average of five times a year, compared to a bear attacking a human an average of only one time a year. That difference is probably driven by how many more bison you see (vs. the number of bears you see), and the misperception that bison are not really dangerous animals (which causes people to get way too close to bison).
Tammy and I were also wondering if there was a difference between a bison and a buffalo. The technical biological answer is "yes", but when it comes to American history, the answer is "no". That is because when early American settlers found these large bovines, they called them buffalo in error, because they were similar to Water Buffalo from the far east. In reality, the American Buffalo is really an American Bison.
Here are a selection of my favorite bison photos from the Yellowstone trip. All of these were taken from inside our car. If I were on foot and this close to these bison, I would have deserved any abuse that the bison elected to dish out.