Yessons from Yellowstone…

1)  If you drive around, they will come.  We saw all of these just off the road (except the two bears fighting over food.  That was at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone–an awesome not-for-profit wildlife and educational center that provides homes for bears and wolves unable to be in the wild–most having become accustomed to human food.  See full review HERE).

2)  NOT having cell service is a good thing.

3)  Every gift store is different.

4)  You can really appreciate the beauty of God’s world in Nature.

5)  Cameras these days are so much better than those of old.  Judge for yourself from the images below:

Explanation on photos for those curious:

The first one is actually in Thermopolis, WY, where there are thermal hot springs as well just like in Yellowstone (part of the same underground geothermal area).  I couldn’t resist the cloud formations.  Beautiful!

My daughter actually took the photo of the Mastiff Geyser sign.  She couldn’t resist since we own two English Mastiffs.  It was an ode to them!

The geyser is Old Faithful.

I can’t say enough about the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center.  Please see my full review HERE.  If you are looking for a wonderful animal center to support, look no further.

The buffalo (proper name is bison) have the right of way in Yellowstone.  This guy walked right by us on the road.

The deer are black-tailed deer–quite rare in Wyoming.

This white wolf was a loner and we saw him two days in a row.  The buffalo nearby completely ignored him, not threatened in the least by a single wolf.  I kept wondering what his story was…

I’m assuming the two black bears were a pair of recently-weaned young (a year or so old) but we didn’t stick around long enough to find out.  We were extremely close.  When you’re in Yellowstone, you know there’s a bear or a moose or something rare by the number of cars alongside the road.  We stopped here because of just such a scene.  We crested a hill and right in front of us was this pair!  We snapped a couple of photos and got out of there!  Everyone else seemed to be hanging out but I’m not one to be a bear snack!

Outside of Old Faithful, the other geyser pictures posted are from Norris Geyser Basin.  We stopped at others but I liked these the best.

Like all the other animals we saw, the moose was standing in a river right by the road after you entered the park from the West Yellowstone entrance.  Eating contentedly despite the crowds.

The camera I used was a simple Sony 12.1 Mega Pixel Cyber-Shot.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

I can’t say enough about this place.

Located in the beautiful small town of West Yellowstone, Montana, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is an awesome not-for-profit wildlife and educational center that provides homes for bears and wolves unable to be in the wild–most having become accustomed to human food or orphaned as cubs.

They run educational programs year long.  According to their website, their mission is:  “to provide visitors to the Yellowstone area an opportunity to observe, learn, and appreciate grizzly bears and gray wolves.”

Keeper Kids Hiding Bear Treats!

But the reason we visited was for their Keeper Kids program (I have to admit). This is where kids ages 5-12 (I was disappointed my 4 year old couldn’t do this) get to hide food for the bears.  The bears are rotated in their outside enclosure in order to give them a break and so the guests get to see all of them.  So in-between a rotation, the kids hide snacks (mainly fruit), which the bears find (assuming the twenty or so crows who have nothing better to do than steal the bear food don’t find it first).

My girls LOVED this.  Randy, our guide for the day, did an introduction to bears beforehand and then took the kids back to hide the food.

Our favorite is 101.  She’s the 101st bear who was tagged in Yellowstone over 30 years ago and lived in the wild until recently when she became accustomed to human food through human error.  She adjusted slowly to being in captivity but Randy informed us she is doing much better.

While there, we got to see 101 and Spirit get into a tiff over the snacks (see photo below).

101 and Spirit “discuss” who gets the fruit!

Randy told us they like to mix up the bears who socialize together as stimulation but there are definitely bears who do not get along.  We didn’t get to find out which ones as he was distracted by other questions and we had a long day ahead of us in the park (which included our moose and grizzly sighting!).

They also have 2 wolf packs on the premises (these guys were sleeping while we were there but I did capture this picture while this guy got up to change positions!) and raptors.

Where Should I Go Next?

Inside, they have a great “museum” with stuffed bears (most of which were killed illegally) and informative displays as well as a well-stocked gift shop.

I would definitely recommend this place.  It is well worth the entrance fee and we will definitely go back if we are ever in the area.  I like supporting causes and I find nothing better to spend my money on than animals who need help for whatever reason.

Other fun pictures from our day:

I believe this is Sam, the largest bear at the center.
“Does life get any better than this?”
Does a bear get more gorgeous than this?