July week 1 – Wolves and Waterfalls

When the gray wolf was eradicated from Yellowstone National Park in the 1920s, more was lost than this majestic predator. The park’s entire ecosystem changed. In the mid 1990 some wolves from Canada were introduced to the park and today there are approximately 100. Packs are now located in various parts of the park. Wolves prey on a variety of species, notably elk in the Yellowstone area, but will also pursue sheep, deer, moose, and other animals.

If  you don’t see any wolves or any close enough to fill your frame you might want to visit the Wolf and Bear Center in West Yellowstone.  Open from dawn to dusk the center is home for 8 wolves that live in two different packs. The wolves were born in captivity and are unable to live in the wild. Here, the wolves give visitors an up-close look at their daily activities.

“Wolfers” in Hayden Valley were following the movement of what some were saying was a white wolf.  But as the canine came into my camera view, still a spec, it looked like a huge coyote to me.  When it went out of view, like many other viewers, I jumped into my car to move toward the direction this wolf or coyote was traveling.  The Hayden Valley Pack is the most tolerant of humans so it was possible the wolfers had a sighting.

When I noticed it crossed the street I turned in to the Mud Volcano Trail parking lot and took up my ready stance for a possible sighting. From behind the bathrooms heading up the hill into the woods I was able to get a few frame filling shots at 400mm.  If she is a coyote she is a very big one.  After showing this particular image to a ranger she said, “I would need to see its behavior to say for certain….but probably a coyote.”

The first of July I swung through Yellowstone for one more visit to the park on my return from New York.  From white water rapids at the brink of water falls to white wolves I was blessed with beauty.

If you arrive at Artist Point to view the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone around 9:45 AM the sun will hit the spray of the Lower Falls providing a hint of rainbow colors.  At 400 mm you can isolate just the falls and some of the curvaceous cliffs on each side.  The Yellowstone River thunders more than 308 feet over the Lower Falls.

The multicolored canyon is the product the hydrothermal activity – orange, brown and green.  Also if you look carefully you are likely to see the Osprey soaring among these rugged pinnacles.  Timing and patience (and often a little luck) pay off.

Be sure to view “The Valley of the Wolves.”

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