Well, I think it’s that time again. Time for a new National Park-related list. I previously made lists of my Top 10 Favorite National Parks and Top 10 Short and Long National Park hikes. I’ve also shared my Bucket List and a list of places I’ve visited that I think should be on everyone’s Bucket List. This time, I decided to go with a list of my Top 10 Wildlife Encounters. They all occurred in National Parks; unsurprisingly most of them were in Glacier and Yellowstone. Almost all of these were up close and personal interactions, while a couple could be better classified as “wildlife sightings” from afar. I decided I would simply use a photo of the park of the incident as my Featured Image, so that I don’t give away the type of wildlife. Hope you enjoy my list.
5. The roadside grizzlies
Location: Beside East Entrance Road, near the Avalanche Peak Trailhead, in Yellowstone National Park.
Animal: A grizzly bear with her cub.
Rarity (the first of a few totally subjective 1-10 scales I am using): 6 – There are plenty of grizzlies in Yellowstone, but I’d still say your best chance to see any is to simply drive around for a while and hope you get lucky and find a “bear jam,” which is a group of cars parked alongside a road due to a wildlife sighting.
Wow Factor: 8 – Spotting any bear, especially a grizzly, is an awesome and thrilling experience.
Danger: 5 – Sure grizzly bears are dangerous, but there was a park ranger and a good-sized crowd of tourists watching these bears, so there was little cause for concern.
Fear Factor: 4 – The fact that a ranger was between me and the bears and a lot of other people were also watching the bear made me feel completely safe. I wasn’t afraid, but I was pretty excited.
Description: My friend Joe and I had just finished our hike of Avalanche Peak. I was tired and my knees were killing me from descending the steep trail so fast. We got into my car and started the drive back to our campsite at Bridge Bay Campground. Within minutes we stopped again. There was a long row of cars parked beside the road including a tour bus and a park ranger’s cruiser. It had the look of a bear jam and I crossed my fingers that there was a grizzly.
We parked behind the other cars and I grabbed my camera before jumping out of the car. Two park rangers were blocking one side of the road, so we walked up on the other end. I strolled past the tour bus and saw two bears on the opposite side of the road. It was a sow and her cub. Judging by the humps above their shoulders they were definitely grizzlies, not black bears. They walked nonchalantly between the road and the edge of the forest. At first glance they seemed completely at peace despite being watched by the camera-toting mob. However, I noticed after a couple of minutes that the mother bear constantly stayed between her cub and the crowd, even though they were a good distance away. I’m sure that was no coincidence.
A minute ago I was exhausted from our hike, but this sighting instantly rejuvenated me. I took several photos and eagerly admired the furry beasts. I had never been so close to bears before, but we were safe. There was a decent sized crowd of people admiring the bears and a couple of park rangers made sure us tourists didn’t get too close to the bears. After a couple of minutes the bears walked into the woods and disappeared from view.