WARNING: Long post with a lot of photos! :)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my heart lives in Wyoming (although, I’ve never visited in the dead of winter). Last year, my hubby Greg worked with my niece Sam to create a special video they played for me on Christmas morning. The video revealed my full Christmas gift: a road trip to two of my favorite places on earth, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone… but this time, Roxy was coming, too!
So, a few weeks ago, we set off…
I love driving the truck.
Roxy is a great traveler.
“Welcome to Wyoming” — my favorite words!
Our first few nights were spent in Jackson, WY at the Fireside Resort. Aren’t the cabins awesome?! They even come with a s’mores kit.
On our first day there, Greg, Roxy, and I had our portraits taken down near Mormon Row (read about our family portrait session) and afterward, we hung around to take some more photos.
This is one of my favorite barns.
My love & The Grand Teton mountains. Does it get any better?
I just loved this horse out in the field.
A few days later, we headed up to Yellowstone. This is just one of the many gorgeous views along the way. Only in Wyoming have I seen skies like this.
On our way in to Canyon Lodge (located in the middle of the park on the eastern side), it started raining… and hailing… and sleeting… and snowing! We enjoyed watching the snow fall from our cabin…
After the snow stopped, we went out to take some photos near Hayden Valley.
Mr. Bison has a mouthful of grass.
The snowy Hayden Valley landscape was like a dream.
And the sunset was just magical.
We found a coyote hunting in a field… I realized when we got here that my tripod broke (of course!) so I used the hood of the truck until I could get a replacement. I’ve never seen a coyote hunt like a little fox before!
And my favorite shot…
Speaking of that broken tripod… we had to make an emergency trip to F-11 Photographic in Bozeman, MT. I wanted to see Bozeman on this trip, anyway, so off we went. The salesman at the shop was extremely helpful and hooked me up with a brand new tripod and ball head that would work with the 600mm lens I rented from LensRentals.com. This lens requires the use of a tripod; it’s almost 18″ long and weighs just over 11 pounds… it’s not exactly a lens that can be hand-held (I dubbed it “THE BEAST” — yes, in all caps).
While we were there, I wanted to check out Hedvig’s Trail, a 37-acre — completely enclosed — trail system for dogs to enjoy off-leash. Here’s a shot of Roxy (well, her butt, at least) enjoying sniffing all the great smells.
On our way back, we came across this gorgeous bull elk.
Then he made my life complete by bugling. I was meant to live where the elk bugle.
The rut was definitely in full swing. Here are two bull bison fighting for the attention of the ladies!
Later that evening, the full moon rose over the mountainside. Greg flung the truck off the road so I could get this shot.
The next day, we came across a grizzly guarding an elk kill on far the side of Swan Lake. He stayed there for days, guarding his prize, only getting up to eat and chase away the birds.
On our travels, we came across so many pretty spots.
Oh, Mr. Fisherman, pay no mind to the GIANT BULL BISON crossing the river beside you.
We stopped at Old Faithful for a show. Apparently, Roxy and I were more exciting than Old Faithful. HAH!!!
The quote of the day came from a little boy walking around with his parents. He saw Roxy and said, “that dog looks like a wolf!” Totally made my day. My little Yellowstone Wolf.
We also enjoyed some soft-serve. Yes, we shared some with Roxy, too.
A few days later, we moved up to Mammoth Hot Springs. We had never seen bighorn sheep before and it was on our wish-list for this trip. We knew they were around the Mammoth area and we got completely lucky one evening. We were driving by and — Oh! Hello! — a bighorn sheep right on the side of the road. We parked in the nearest pull-out and took a look up on the steep cliffs beside us…
We also love seeing moose. This bull was enjoying the first rays of sun one morning. Don’t make fun of his small antlers; that wouldn’t be nice.
Look at his breath — it was chilly!
We also came across this gorgeous little pronghorn antelope near Slough Creek.
After our moose and pronghorn encounters, we continued into Lamar Valley for a little picnic.
Roxy put her paw right on top of a bison hoof-print when she went to take a drink! My wild little wolf!
Greg took a few photos of us. We are all so happy here!
On our way back out of Lamar, headed toward Tower-Roosevelt, we came across two pronghorn right off the road. We stopped and I got out THE BEAST lens so I could get some up-close shots of these two. What transpired was a truly special sight to see!
First, we have our bachelor, Little Guy…
And the lovely Lady (oh, those eyelashes!)…
Well, the Big Guy pronghorn — up on the hill with his harem — also liked the lovely Lady. Little Guy said “pfft, she’s mine!” (Look at the tongue! Hah!)
Big Guy took offense at that, so he started chasing Little Guy. Run, Little Guy, run!
After he chased Little Guy, he chased Lady.
This all went on for a while, but eventually Big Guy ushered Lady up the hill to the rest of his harem. We’re not sure if she was a part of it to begin with, but we felt pretty bad for her… she didn’t want anything to do with either of these guys… she just wanted to eat some grass!
After our pronghorn adventure, we stopped into a nearby lookout to see what we could find. There were lots of bison and elk roaming the hillside but the weather was rolling in so we decided to get back to the cabin…
There was so much more to this trip that I simply couldn’t get photos of. Sometimes, I just need to enjoy the moment. Some of these moments included: watching a mama bear and her two cubs far, far away on a hillside; spotting a little black bear just off the road one evening enjoying some dinner; and having picnic lunches in Slough Creek and watching Roxy sniff around all the new smells.
But, by far, my best memory of this trip was watching the Junction Butte wolf pack play on a hillside one morning. We met up with a group of wolf watchers and researches early that morning at a favorite lookout. The wolves were about five miles away (hence, no photos) but we were able to see them through the use of a spotting scope. I counted seven wolves, although others counted more. I could see this year’s puppies playing with each other, rolling around, then napping, then playing some more. We could see that some were gray and some were black. It was just so special to see the wild wolves of Yellowstone. As an added bonus, the bull elk in the canyon below were bugling the entire time!
This entire trip was an incredibly special one: we had great fun, saw a countless amount of wildlife, and now I can officially call Roxy my little Yellowstone wolf. Best Christmas present ever.