The Power of Yellowstone

Mindful of different ways of being, our awareness as a species shifts –

We recognize the soul of the land as our own.

~Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve, unattributed

Back from Yellowstone, back from paradise. Thirteen days, some alone, some with my group, some with old friends. Why is it so special? Why do I long to return when there are so many other places to explore? Is it that it was here, so many years ago, that I first knew the power of wild places? Is it that I have seen the magic of Yellowstone in the faces and thoughts of the many people I have guided over the years? I don’t know for sure, but it is an influential place for me, and always will be. There is something to knowing a wild place too, knowing its rhythms, knowing where to look to find its secrets. And there are the lucky ones, the friends that call this place home – Dan, Cindy and Kelly, Beth, Laurie, Jan and Leo. And others who love it like I do that I frequently see in my travels – Parks and his group, Melissa and Megan and the North Carolina teachers, Bill the wolf interpreter, Bob. It certainly is also the wildlife, so abundant, so different from that at home. Perhaps it is the soul of the land, a feeling I have of being connected to something grand, something far bigger and more powerful than what I experience back home, something that demands respect and awareness. I may never truly know, but that may be just fine. Maybe I should just accept that there is something special about this place…

Whatever evaluation we finally make of a stretch of land, no matter how profound or accurate, we will find it inadequate. The land retains an identity of its own, still deeper and more subtle than we can know. Our obligation toward it then becomes simple: to approach with an uncalculating mind, with an attitude of regard. To try to sense the range and variety of its expression – its weather and color and animals. To intend from the beginning to preserve some of the mystery within it as a kind of wisdom to be experienced, not questioned. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there.

~Barry Lopez

I do know this…every time I leave, I know I will be back. Until then, some images to remember it by….

in the road

Traffic control in Lamar Valley (click photos to enlarge)

Grizzly Lodge

Appropriately named lodging in Silver Gate

Grizzly eating dandelion 2

Grizzly Bear dining on Dandelion flowers

Rocky Mountain Goat

Rocky Mountain Goat surveying his domain

Snake River overlook

Snake River overlook, Grand Teton National Park

Elk antlers

Elk skull that has been in this same spot in Little America for at least 4 years

sunset at Slough Creek

Strange clouds at sunset at Slough Creek

Bison coming out of river

Bison emerging from a swim across the Yellowstone River

Great Gray Owl female

Great Gray Owl out toward the Beartooths

Black Bear and cubs

So many Black Bears and cubs this year

Bull Elk in velvet 2

A rarity to photograph these days – a mature bull Elk

Pronghorn doe at sunrise

Pronghorn doe at sunrise

Uooer Geyser Basin

View down the Upper Geyser Basin

Western Tanager

Western Tanager male

Rainbow in Hayden Valley

After the storm in Hayden Valley

sunset at Roosevelt Arch

Majestic sunset at Roosevelt Arch

12 thoughts on “The Power of Yellowstone

  1. Mike, these photos are perfection…I do understand why you love Yellowstone and want to share the experience with others 🙂

  2. You got some great shots of the wildlife and the beauty of Yellowstone. Thank you for sharing them. What a pleasure!

      • You certainly want to see the rest of the park, especially the thermal features and other unique geology. But, the other areas of the park tend to be much more crowded in summer (especially Canyon and Old Faithful areas), and hotter. The northern section has no major tourist spots with large visitor services complexes (other than Mammoth, park headquarters). Wildlife is high on my priority list so the so-called northern range is one of the better places to view wildlife (Hayden Valley is another great location farther south). I also like the area outside the NE entrance up toward the Beartooths. So, I guess it is my wildlife bias and fewer people (although you might think it is excessively crowded if you run into a “bear jam” along the road or wolves have been spotted in Lamar Valley.

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