Anna and Kerri, two of our North America Consultants, recently had a whirlwind safari tour of the Grand Tetons and Greater Yellowstone. Here’s their write up from day one…
After a night in central Jackson Hole which included a hearty dinner and live band we rose early and were greeted by our guide Kyle, for our two day adventure into Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Normally our trips are three days and we wouldn’t suggest anything less, however, we’re on a tight schedule so it’s up to Kyle to squeeze the very best of these two amazing parks into two days.
It’s going to be busy, the parks are vast and there’s much to see. We’re struck straight away by how different the topography is. Throughout the first day we will travel from the South of Teton to the North of Yellowstone, over 170 miles and with that brings staggering jagged mountains, pine strewn hillsides, huge lakes, canyons, rivers and grasslands, not to mention the bubbling sulphur pools and geysers, Yellowstone is a volcano after all! There is constantly something new and exciting to see here.
Our first day concentrates on the scenery and wildlife. Whilst this trip is labelled as a safari, it’s certainly not bison and bear around every corner. With the vast expanse comes a lot more of a challenge with regards to wildlife, so patience and a keen eye are paramount. Kyle has been guiding in Teton and Yellowstone for many years and so if anyone can find us the wildlife we crave (bears, moose, some bison and maybe some wolves) he can deliver. But this trip is about far more than the wildlife and we learn much about the history, geography and geology of the parks. Much time is spent in the vehicle, however, on the longer trips there is more time to stop, look and explore further. Perhaps take a hike to a stunning lookout or wait in silent anticipation for the possibility of a bear or wolf sighting.
Kyle, it seems, has a golden touch for wildlife. Within an hour we hear of three moose grazing on a hillside and we head across and are treated to a sight of them. They are far away but there are plenty of binoculars to go around so we can all watch them. A thrilling start (I always seem to miss out on moose despite being in moose areas many times before). We’re back in the car and Kyle has heard of a carcass that a grizzly bear has been feeding on for the last few days. We soon reach Jackson Lake Lodge, one of the national park lodges so busier than we would like, however, the bear is still lying on the carcass in the grass just 100 yards or so from the lodge’s terrace. Our first grizzly sighting is amazing and the bear kindly wakes from his nap, sniffs the air a few times and has a short potter around the carcass in order to give us a good view before collapsing back to sleep. Another box ticked for wildlife and it’s not even lunchtime. Speaking of which, Kyle produces a hearty deli lunch of meats, salad and fruits for us in a pretty picnic spot before we hit the road again.
As the day continues we tick off bison crossing the road right behind us, a herd of elk with a big bull calling out (amazing sound) and more bison, a few coyotes, a few more bison and then the highlight of the day, another bear! This time we find it by running in to a “bear jam” (lots of cars quite suddenly parked up at the side of the road and lots of excited looking people scurrying off with binoculars and telephoto lenses. This is a black bear and he’s lazing on a rocky crag, casually with one leg hanging down and his head lolling below. It’s unbelievably cute although of course, we’re pleased to be seeing this at some distance, and cameras are clicking aplenty. I don’t have a fancy camera so I’m content to watch through Kyle’s powerful binoculars. The sight brings a smile to all our faces, it’s adorable, and even more so when he wakes, rises, stretches, has a bit of a sniff then settles back down again.
We are coming to the end of day one and the scenery has been ever changing and breathtaking as we head from the Tetons to Jackson Lake, in to Yellowstone, on to waterfalls, view points, canyons and the stunning Lamar Valley. We head wearily for our overnight stop in Silvergate, to the East of the park entrance, where a comforting meal and simple yet cosy accommodation await. After dinner Kyle suggests a trip back in to the park to see the lunar eclipse, how could we say no and so we head off to a quiet spot where a beautiful shaded mood and a million stars await above our heads. A perfect end to an incredible, and very long day. So to bed, what will be in store for us as we head to the other side of the park tomorrow…..?
For more information, give one of our Travel Consultants a call on 0203 603 3555 or visit scottdunn.com.