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Our 7th day on our Yellowstone National Park adventure was a relaxing one that allowed us to tour the Hayden Valley. Hayden Valley is known worldwide for its terrific wildlife assortment and it surely didn’t dissappoint. We were able to see Geese, Ducks, Bison, Wolves and even Bears in the wild!
Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley is often referred to as “America’s Serengeti” due to its vast wildlife population and the ease in which you can often view them along the roadside. The valley is perfect for wildlife with a flowing river and greenery for the grazing animals. The predators tend to hide in the pine forests, then attack without notice.
The open plains stretch for several miles in each direction as the river flows from the mountains toward Lake Yellowstone. The Mud Volcanos are also a favorite of the Bison, as they receive some much needed nutrients from the volcanic mud.
We only saw 5 swans a swimming in the river. I guess it was the off season for them.
Bison are amazing, enormous beasts. They are able to withstand the brutal winter that comes to Yellowstone each year with several feet of snow, yet handle the moderate summers that the park experiences as well. During Rut season, the male Bison become more aggressive as they are looking for opportunities to mate.
Females tend to give birth to their young in early Spring and they are very protective of the young. After Rut season, many males become loners and are seen around the park in their favorite locations to eat and rest. They are still a serious threat, if you get in their way, but are less aggressive in late summer. We saw many near the Mud Volcanoes.
Mud Volcano is a volcanic area which erupted in the late 1870’s. Today, it is basically just a bubbling caldon area with high hydrogen sulfide releases. The hydrogen sulfide is what creates the “rotten egg” smell that is common in Yellowstone’s volcanic areas.
These areas appear to be boiling hot, but the gases below are being released to the surface and the water is being churned. It is still extremely hot and can harm you.
Black Dragon’s Caldron is now a very placid and beautiful area, but it once exploded to the point it blew all the trees out by the roots and they landed over 100 feet away from their source. Scientists don’t know when the landscape will change again, but believe it will. In 1995 Yellowstone experienced over 500 minor earthquakes which turned off many caldrons, opened new ones and even re-routed some streams.
This big fella really wanted a nice photo taken of him. He was lying a little too close to the pathway for comfort. The signs say to keep a 25 yard distance and watch to see if they raise their tail. If they tail goes up, back away! You wish they weren’t deadly, so you could snuggle up and pet them right?
Dragon’s Mouth Spring sounds like a roaring dragon with its tongue lashing back and forth. The steam rises and the water rolls outward. When very active the hot water can reach all the way to the walkway!
After visiting the Mud Volcano area, we stopped for our picnic lunch. When visiting Yellowstone, even if staying within the park, you should plan to pack a lunch, snacks and drinks as it is a pretty long drive to an area that offers food. This was one of our favorite stops within the Hayden Valley.
We made our way down the valley to see the Yellowstone Lake area. It is a stunning beauty, but the winds were high, so there was very little boat traffic. The lake is always frigid, so there’s no swimming in the lake or you’d get hypothermia.
Panorama of the Lake. Click for full size. It’s a big file :)
As evening began to arrive we made our way back up the valley with hopes of seeing additional wildlife. Our hopes were fulfilled as we saw a pack of wolves feasting on a fallen Bison carcass. They were REALLY far away, so this was the best my camera could do. I would recommend bringing along some good binoculars, a spotting scope or a camera with a very long telephoto lens to spot wildlife in the distance.
We chatted with a park ranger and he told us if we saw wolves, then the bears wouldn’t be far behind. We turned around and went back to the area with the fallen Bison. Sure enough we saw a Momma bear and some baby bears! My daughters were overjoyed to have seen wolves and bears in the wild.
We also spotted a bald eagle along the stream, many ravens and several other bird types. If you enjoy animal spotting, the Hayden Valley is a dream come true.
My family and I love traveling and seeing the beautiful sights and wild animals that we have encounted and Yellowstone will rank among the best places we have visited. Can you tell that Jordyn enjoyed her day?