My next stop on the return from the Oregon coast was Yellowstone NP. I stayed at Mammoth Hot Springs CG then in Canyon Village CG to explore the areas close to them. Lamar Valley isn’t too far from Mammoth so I went there a few times. Got to see a black wolf a couple of times but it was too far away from photos. I did spend some time watching mountain goats on Baronette Peak, used my spotting scope and got some images with that and my cell phone. Hayden Valley is close to Canyon Village so I spent time there, unfortunately the animals were few and far between. Did manage to get a few images late one evening of a grizzly feeding on a bison carcass.
From Yellowstone I went up to Montana to explore a totally new area for me. Was a great decision, found a couple of nice campgrounds and explored a valley that was really special. The log cabins ranged from very old to rather new and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of them. I’d be happy in any one of them for the summer months but not in the winter! And the valley and surrounding mountains are home to several grizzly bears. This time of year they are out in the open more to feed and fatten up for their winter hibernation. Lots of single bears along with sows with cubs. The cubs all looked to be about a year old, no very little ones to be seen but I expect they are there. Spotting scopes and binoculars were a must to watch the bears and I tried taking photos with the cell phone using the scope. That worked semi-decently but I need more practice.
All the places I camped were experiencing some smoke so sometimes the backgrounds look pretty hazy. No much can be done about that.
One of the stops we made was at a NFS campground just outside North Bend, small a pretty quiet but convenient for some interesting excursions. I first visited Simpson’s Reef in 2016 and knew I had to go back there. Fortunately I got there before the fog rolled in so I could photograph some of the sea mammals.
There are seals, sea lions and elephants seals there, all a good distance away but still nice to see.
After That stop we headed north to Cape Perpetua for a few days. Another very pleasant NFS campground and close to some scenic spots. We went to the beach at low tide one morning to check out the tide pools.
This visit seemed to have a lot of foggy mornings and evenings, but I did finally get a pretty nice sunset.
This trip to Oregon I made it a point to stay near the southern end of the coast for a couple of days. It was a good decision, less traffic and some spectacular scenery! There are many pullouts/viewpoints with sea stacks to photograph.
At a couple of the spots I used an ND filter for special effect.
Natural Bridges was another nice spot, no way to get down near it though, the viewpoint was at road level.
On the way to the coast we stopped at a NFS campground near Crater Lake. It was a great place for 3 nights, spacious sites, convenient water and the temperatures were wonderful! We had clear days and nights. One day I drove up to the rim of Crater Lake.
My campsite was right on the Rogue River. At that location the river is much smaller than it is when it spills into the Pacific Ocean in Gold Beach, OR. On the way to the coast we stopped at the Redwood NF. I was impressed with the size of the Ponderosa Pines in the campground but the Redwoods are simply incredible. So glad our route took us close enough for a short detour to see them!
I’ve been camped along the Salmon River in Idaho for a while now. It’s been very hot but there usually is a breeze and I have pretty shady site. Sitting on the riverbank and just watching has been a great way to relax. There are lots of tree swallows here and they’re constantly int he air snagging bugs.
A few mornings ago there was a bit more action as a doe cam out and grazed along the river bank. there was a mature Great Blue Heron and a younger one. Both watched as she walked by them. Then the younger one got a bit too close to the mature one and was chased away.
There have been some colorful sunsets over the river, too.
Just spent a week in the Bitterroot Valley in MT, south of Missoula about 25 miles. The campground was a sverynice NFS one with paved sites, large and well separated from each other. The campground backed up to the Sawtooth Mountains with enough shade form the Lodgepole pines and a breeze to make it comfortable.
Nearby was the Lee Metcalf NWR and I went over there at least once a day, sometimes both early morning and in the evening. It is mostly for waterfowl but I also saw some white tail deer, muskrats, prairie dogs and raptors.
I spent quite a bit of time watching the Osprey with three chicks. One evening one of them brought a stick to the nest. The next morning I watched for two hours and the bird brought an even bigger stick to add to the nest then proceeded to move it around until it was satisfied with the location. I had t wonder if the chicks got bopped on their heads during that. I did get to see the second adult bring back a fish, and watched the chicks being fed.
After leaving Yellowstone I went into ID for a week, staying at a NFS campground in Island Park. The campground was nice, not very big and was an easy walk to a narrow section of a reservoir. My site had a good mix of sun and shade. There were a lot of native wildflowers around. This campground did not have cell signal so I had to drive about 5 miles to get online, do email, etc.
One day I did an interesting drive south to see the two parts of Mesa Waterfall. While doing that I was far enough south to see the back side of the Tetons, but there were no places to stop to get images of the mountains.
From Idaho I went to Montana where I camped for nearly a week in a small campground south of Bozeman that was next to the Gallatin River. My campsite was right on the river so I spent some time watching the people in rafts float by and the fly fishermen. The spot right behind my site was used frequently as a “teaching spot” for some Fly fishing guides, too. And this campground was cell signal free, had to drive 10 miles south for email, anything online.
Next I moved up to a campground south of Butte, right on the Big Hole River called Divide Bridge campground. My campsite was right on the river which was nice. Here I seemed to be nearly the only person without a drift boat (or raft) and a fly fishing rod. It is a small campground and pretty busy. I did get a site that was more secluded than most and I could walk right down to the water from my trailer. Again, no cell signal but this time I only had to drive 2 miles down the road to the fly fishing outfitters shop.
One day I took a drive about 25 miles past the campground to check out some other NFS campgrounds. The road followed the Big Hole River and I saw many more fishermen as I drove along. There is still some snow on the mountaintops here. One small place I passed through is called Wise River and I managed to grab some photos of the very old buildings. It must have been al to of work to square off the logs in those early structures!
This year I spent 5 nights at Gros Ventre campground in the Tetons before going up into Yellowstone NP. The weather in the Tetons was cold with sleet nearly every day. The first clear day I ventured out to see what I could find and ran smack into a bear jam. This one I stuck around for because it was about 399 and her 4 cubs. Last spring this grizzly sow had 4 cubs. They all survived the winter and appear to be doing well. She is 25 now and nearing the end of her breeding life.
The Tetons had a lot of snow on them even late in May this year and there were still quite a few patches on snow on the ground.
From the Tetons I headed up to Canyon Village campground in Yellowstone. I generally use that as a base and spend my time in Hayden Valley. On the drives between the two locations I did manage to see a couple of bears, both times I was driving and did not have a place to stop. One had already started a huge bear jam with no rangers around so I called that one in.
Most of my days in Hayden Valley were spent watching a wolf pack in the far distance using my spotting scope. I did take a few photos with my camera and long lens and will post them but they are cropped a lot and just not great. Getting photos using my phone and the scope was tricky and not very successful. I need to practice that a lot more!
The wolves were fascinating. There are 12 adults and 9 pups in the pack. Sometimes an adult, often one of the black ones, would bring the two older pups out to play. They romped around on the snow, played with the adults, etc. They were very adventurous exploring. I did get to see them playing with a large bone, too. They would romp around and then collapse, worn out. Only once did I see the smaller pups out on the grass. Some of the adults spent a lot of time just laying around in the sun, sometimes on the snow because it was pretty hot.
The last evening I was watching them I saw the 5 that were laying down suddenly get up and run up the hill into the sagebrush. They were greeting the rest of the adults who had apparently been away on some mission. What a joyful greeting that was! I wasn’t able to capture it with the camera but got a couple of images as they relaxed a bit.
Yellowstone in the spring wouldn’t be complete for me without the Milky Way so I was out late one night to capture this image of it over the Yellowstone River.