My Top 10 Wildlife Encounters: #4

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.

 

10. The massive bull elk in Mather Campground

9. The rattlesnake on the way up Half Dome

8. The one-horned mountain goat

7. Bighorn sheep on Mount Washburn

6. The many mountain goats along the Hidden Lake Trail

5. The roadside grizzlies

4. Three moose in Moose, Wyoming

 

Location: A tributary of the Snake River, a short distance southwest of Teton Park Road.

Animal: Three large moose.

Rarity (the first of a few totally subjective 1-10 scales I am using): 4 – Moose sightings aren’t uncommon in the Tetons, but seeing three large moose together from a short distance away isn’t so common.

Wow Factor: 7 – I think moose sightings are among the best you can enjoy in the wild.

Danger: 2 – No risk at this sighting. The moose were all about ten feet below me and I was with a large group of tourists photographing them.

Fear Factor: 1 – Again, there was nothing to worry about here. I wasn’t the slightest bit afraid.

Description: It was the final day of a solo adventure in the Tetons. I had a busy day and kind of pushed my hunger aside so I could see more of the park before leaving. I looked for a place to eat in the Dornans plaza in Moose in the southern part of the park. I was met with a long wait at the restaurant and the general store had just closed so I got back in my car to head to Jackson to find a place to eat.

Right after I left the parking lot I noticed a long line of cars parked along Teton Park Road before the bridge over the Snake River. My times in National Parks, especially in Yellowstone to the north, have taught me that if I see a line of cars on the side of a park road it is best to follow suit. It usually means a crowd of tourists is watching a bear or some other species of megafauna nearby. So, despite my growling stomach, I felt obligated to stop find out why the cars were parked.

I parked, grabbed my camera and telephoto lens and followed some people across the road. Someone coming back toward us said there were some moose just a short distance away. I’m not able to pass up the opportunity to view large wildlife in their natural habitat, so I hustled across the thin meadow.

A couple hundred yards from the road I found a small army of tourists armed with cameras. I attached my telephoto lens and joined in the fun. We stood at the edge of an elevated grassy area several feet above a tiny tributary of the Snake River. On the opposite side of the water were three enormous bull moose. They were slowly wandering through a swampy area amidst willow trees and bushes.

These were massive, yet graceful animals. Their bodies were very dark, almost black. They had thin tan legs and large chocolate brown heads. I have no idea how those skinny legs were able to hold up those muscular 1,000 pound bodies, but they did. They slowly and quietly ate leaves off of trees and bushes for their dinner.

I snapped a couple dozen photos as dusk fell on the area. Once it got fairly dark I decided I better get something to eat. I really enjoyed watching such amazing animals up close in their natural surroundings. I’m glad that I decided to leave Dornan’s in search of a late dinner; otherwise I would have missed seeing those big and powerful creatures.

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