Tag Archives: wildlife

Yellowstone Park Entrances

RED LODGE POST

Most visitors arrive at Yellowstone National Park during the summer months. This is expected as schools are not operating, and the weather is nice.

Is there any way to avoid crowds heading into Yellowstone? Maybe. Yellowstone has five entrances (East, South, Northeast, North, and West). Choosing one over others may be a tactic to get away from some of the congestion. A look at the number of visitors at each of the Park’s entrances is helpful in this regard.

Yellowstone entrances
Yellowstone National Park entrances. Map courtesy National park Service.

During July (2019), 12.3% of visitors entered the Park from near Cody, Wyoming; 21.8% of visitors entered from near Jackson, Wyoming; 6.6% entered from near Red Lodge, Montana; 16.0% entered from near Gardiner, Montana; and a whopping 43.2% entered from near West Yellowstone, Montana. A total of 936,062 visitors entered Yellowstone at all entrances in July 2019.

These numbers depend on lots of factors, such as where visitors come from (home states) and nearby “feeder” cities. Bozeman is many miles from the northwest side of the Park, but many people fly into the Bozeman airport, then head south to enter the Park at West Yellowstone, Montana. Jackson, Wyoming likely draws many who take in Grand Teton National Park before heading north to Yellowstone.

Where visitors enter the Park depends on circumstances of their travel. Still travelers from the Northwest, Midwest, and Canada, may want to choose entrances near Red Lodge or Gardiner Montana. Both Red Lodge and Gardiner have lots to offer before heading to an official Park entrance.

Northeast Entrance

Red Lodge is a charming town. Plus, Red Lodge is a starting point for travel up the amazing, scenic Beartooth Highway (U.S. 212) as it winds up into the mountains toward the Northeast Entrance to the Park. Inside the Park, the highway passes through the Lamar Valley, a scenic area, home to bears, buffalo, and other wildlife.

MTbest: In Red Lodge stay at the Pollard Hotel (406) 446-0001; dine at Carbon Fork Restaurant.

North Entrance

When entering the North Entrance of the Park at Gardiner, visitors are greeted by the famous Roosevelt Arch. A few more miles down the road is Mammoth Hot Springs.

Before heading to the North Entrance of Yellowstone, many travelers stop in Livingston, about 53 miles north of Gardiner. Time spent in Livingston is sure to please, since Livingston is such an attractive small town. Livingston has many art galleries, nice restaurants, a historic hotel, an amazing historical museum, and much more.

Murray Hotel MT
Photos in this ad courtesy Murray Hotel. Sandy Archives.

MTbest: In Livingston, stay at the Murray Hotel (406) 222-1350; dine at Gil’s Goods Restaurant.

West Entrance

The West Entrance of the Park, near the village of West Yellowstone, puts visitors close to the Old Faithful Geyser and lower geyser basin.  West Yellowstone has an abundance of lodging and restaurants. Grizzly bears in captivity can be viewed at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center at the east edge town.

MTbest: In West Yellowstone stay at the Hibernation Station (800) 580-3557; dine at Three Bear Restaurant.

East Entrance

Starting from Cody, Wyoming, visitors arrive at the East Entrance to the Park not far from Yellowstone Lake. The drive from Cody to the East Entrance is very scenic as the highway winds up into the mountains to the Park’s boundary. There’s lots of things to do in Cody. This makes the East Entrance ideal for entering or exiting the Park.

MTbest: In Cody, stay at the Chamberlin Inn (307) 587-0202; dine at Irma Hotel Restaurant.

South Entrance

The South Entrance is the gateway to Grand Teton National Park to the south and all the fun stuff in Jackson, Wyoming.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Wildlife Refuges

RED LODGE POST

Wildlife refuges are areas, lands and waters, set aside to conserve fish, wildlife, and plants. Refuge managers aim to maintain and improve natural habitats.

National wildlife refuges MT
National Wildlife Refuges in Montana. Grass Lake NWR not on the map, near Billings, is a recent addition. Map courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Montana has 24 wildlife refuges/districts, operated and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuges are amazing places to visit if natural environments are of interest.

Red Rock Lakes
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

 

C.M. Russell Refuge
C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Nine of the refuges are found in western mountainous regions and fifteen more are in the central and eastern parts of the state. All kinds are environments are represented, such as wetlands, prairies, uplands, badlands, and river breaks.

Visitors at refuges experience many kinds of birds, mammals, and plants. Some favorites:

  • Buffalo at the National Bison Range
  • Black-footed ferrets, bighorn sheep, and cottonwood trees at C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
  • Greater sage grouse and golden eagles at Grass Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Moose and trumpeter swans at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • Canada geese, wild turkeys, red-winged blackbirds at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
Trumpeter swan USFWS
Trumpeter swan at Red Rock Lakes. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

 

Bison USFWS
Bison (buffalo) at National Bison Range. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Choose one or more refuges that appeal to you and study the area(s) before you go. A F&WS online map shows locations of refuges and links to refuge Websites.

Be sure to bring a pair of high-quality binoculars for viewing nature close-up. Take along Montana nature field guides too.  A copy of Montana Nature Set: Field Guides to Wildlife, Birds, and Wildflowers of Montana by James Kavanaugh may suffice.  Buy on Amazon dot com.

Enjoy and learn about nature in the great Montana outdoors.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Montana on my Mind

RED LODGE POST

Montana on My Mind is a really cool video with music performed by the Scioto River Band, Columbus, Ohio. Lead singer is “Cat” Leigh. A woman with a wonderful voice for sure. In the video “Cat” yearns for a trip to the West with hopes of experiencing, wildlife, a mountain pass, wild rivers,  huckleberries, aspen larch and pine, wheat fields, horse culture and so much more.

After watching and listening to this one, you’ll want to pack your bags and leave yesterday. Montana has adopted an official state song, not this one. But Montana on My Mind is the first and only one you’ll want to listen too. Enjoy.

The song Montana on My Mind is available for download from iTunes. The Video is hosted on YouTube.

Get in the mood for Montana travel

Listen and watch “Montana on My Mind performed by Scioto River Band (Columbus, Ohio) and sang by Catherine “Cat” Leigh. Version re-mastered by Abbey Road Studios, London, England.

 

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Glacier Wildlife Gallery

RED LODGE POST

Glacier National Park has an abundance of wildlife. The wildlife thrive in natural habitats far from human civilization. Glacier wildlife are protected in a natural environment. Here are a  few of the species viewed by many visitors to the park.

Bald Eagle GNP
Bald Eagle. Photo by A. Falgoust courtesy National Park Service

 

Moose GNP
Moose. Photo Courtesy National Park Service.

 

 

Elk Glacier
Elk. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

 

Ptarmigan Glacier
Ptarmigan. Photo by Peter Plage, courtesy National Park Service.

 

Porcupine Glacier
Porcupine. Photo by A. Falgoust, courtesy National Park Service.

 

Mule deer Glacier
Mule Deer. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Clark's Nutcracker Glacier
Clark’s Nutcracker. Photo by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.

 

Bighorn Sheep Glacier
Bighorn Sheep. Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

 

Gray wolf Glacier
Gray Wolf. Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Lynx Bobcat Glacier
Lynx (Bobcat). Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Mountain goat Glacier
Mountain Goat. Photo by Tim Rains, courtesy National Park Service.

 

Common loon Glacier
Common Loon. Photo by Tim Rains. Courtesy National Park Service.

 

Grizzly bear Glacier
Grizzly Bear. Photo by Jim Peaco. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Mountain lion Glacier
Mountain lion. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Black bear Glacier
Black Bear. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

 

Osprey Glacier
Beaver. Photo by Ann Schonlau. Courtesy National Park Service.

 

Osprey Glacier
Osprey. Photo by Jim Peaco, courtesy National Park Service.

 

Harlequin duck Glacier
Harlequin duck. Photo by Tim Rains, courtesy National Park Service.

 

Pika Glacier
Pika. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

 

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Mountain Goats

RED LODGE POST

Bring binoculars. Mountain goats hang out in high elevation, mountainous regions of Montana. The Montana FWP estimates that 5,900 mountain goats live in the state. Of the total, thirty-eight per cent are found in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

Viewing mountains goats is easy, finding them is another matter. Mountain goats are not seen ambling along regular roadways as is commonly the case with other wildlife such as bears, buffalo, and elk. Go explore the backcountry is the best advice for finding mountain goats in their preferred habitat.

mountain goat
Mountain goat. Photo courtesy Mike Williams Photography (Missoula). mikewillamsphotography dot com.

Given the large number of mountain goats in Glacier National Park, this may be a good place to go to see one of these magnificent animals. While mountain goats like to stay at higher elevations in the mountains, in Glacier they are often seen wandering on the park’s many trails.

Amy Grisak, a writer for the Great Falls Tribune, describes the best places to go for viewing mountain goats in Glacier National Park. A few hot spots are: Goat Lick along U.S. Highway 2 near Essex in the early season; Logan Pass; Sperry Trail and Gunsight Pass in the western part of the park; and in the area around Many Glacier, the eastern part of the park. At Many Glacier, mountain goats can be viewed high on cliffs above Iceberg Trail and along Ptarmigan Tunnel.

More mountain goats make their home in the cliffs and canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains south of Missoula. In a recent census, a Montana FWP biologist, Rebecca Moray, counted 13 mountain goats in Blodgett Canyon and even more goats in nearby canyons, says Perry Backus in the Missoulian. The Bitterroots are a rugged and wild region, so finding mountain goats here might be hard to do.

Closer to civilization, near Helena, a small number of mountain goats live in the Big Belt Mountains east of the city. Tourists on guided boat tours on the Missouri River through an area called Gates of the Mountains, a large canyon, can sometimes view mountain goats feeding high above the canyon’s walls.

Mountain goats are not usually on people’s radar. Nevertheless, they are a delight to see in the wild. You need some imagination to understand how the goats can climb, even run, on high, treacherous mountain cliffs. This is one of the mysteries that create so much interest in viewing mountain goats.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Missoula

RED LODGE POST

Missoula (pop, 74,428) is home to the University of Montana. College towns tend to have a distinctive vibe, different from regular cities. Missoula does not completely fit this picture, since the city and the surrounding towns have some industry, especially related to forestry. And Missoula draws lots of tourists.

One major interstate highway, IH 94 going east, connects Missoula with Billings and states in the Midwest.  Going west from Missoula, IH 94 leads to Spokane and Seattle. Many flights arrive daily at Missoula International Airport. Missoula is far away from other centers of population. It’s a drive of 200 miles to Spokane, and Billings is 342 miles to the east.

Missoula
Aerial view of Missoula. Photo courtesy of Missoula Parks and Recreation, City of Missoula.

Missoula is a destination for outdoor activities. The Bitterroot River Valley and surrounding mountains south of town offer almost limitless opportunities for hiking, bicycling, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. For beautiful scenery, a drive south of Missoula in the Bitterroot Valley is special. The Bitterroot Mountains, carved by glaciers during the Ice Ages, are spectacular to see and experience.

Missoula has a shopping mall with lots of national chair stores. Beyond that shopping is spread throughout the city. Many stores are owned by local businesses, especially restaurants and shops that cater to needs of people who seek fun in the outdoors.

Since Missoula is mainly an education center and a commercial hub, few big attractions are in the city. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation appeals to a few folks. A carousel will surely keep the kids happy if they are traveling along. The downtown has a historical importance, with a few places listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Given the mix of people who live in and visit Missoula, it is obvious why the city is noted for its excellent dining and drinking places. The Shack just off Higgins Street downtown snags many customers. Bernice’s Bakery is always a good choice. Every visitor should stop at Worden’s Market and Deli. Many young adults hang out at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill. For upscale dining, try the Pearl Café. The décor at the Pearl has an intimate feeling that appeals to many who pay big bucks for dinner.

Bayern Brewing is more than a place, it’s a destination for many. Many beer labels sold here. Dancing Trout, Dump Truck, and Face Plant show this guys have an imagination when choosing names for Bayern Brewing beers. A part of the brewery, Edelweiss Bistro serves food sourced from local farms and ranches. Order a Weisswurst, two poached white sausages served Bier Hall-style with a pretzel and Händlmaier’s Sweet Bavarian mustard. $9. Yum!

Read more about  Missoula and the Wonderland region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Yellowstone National Park

RED LODGE POST

Millions of people will visit Yellowstone National Park this year. And why not? This park is America’s Wonderland.

Most come to see nature in all its glory at Yellowstone. As for wild animals: elk, black bears, grizzly bears, gray wolves, buffalo, moose, mountain goats, and bald eagles live and thrive in Yellowstone’s wild ecosystem. To see these magnificent creatures in a natural setting is stunning.

Be patient and observant if you are eager to experience wildlife. Wildlife come and go on their own schedules and are found in different areas of the park. Their lives and activities reflect seasonal patterns of nature. It’s good to have a pair of quality binoculars for best viewing.

Then there is the landscape. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River rivals the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The canyon of the Yellowstone River is a huge slice cut out of the earth, caused by action of the river over millions of years. When you see it close-up, it’s hard to imagine how the forces of nature were able to create the canyon.

One feature along the canyon is nothing short of spectacular. This is the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. It’s magical, the waterfall and canyon converge in space, making the Lower Falls one of the most photographed scenes in America.

Panoramic landscapes in Yellowstone are uncommonly beautiful and inspiring. Hayden Valley (central Yellowstone) and Lamar Valley (northwest Yellowstone) are the stuff of travel posters. Yellowstone Lake (southeast Yellowstone) is another huge attraction.

Other features found on Yellowstone’s landscape are very different from anything found elsewhere in America. Features on the landscape such as geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, and mud pots are significant attractions. In part, Yellowstone owes its appearance to volcanic activity deep below the surface of the land. Emblematic of it all is Old Faithful geyser near the western edge of the park.

Yellowstone is also a mecca for outdoors activities, such as camping, hiking, boating, and fishing. Some visitors take guided trips while others take part in programs led by park rangers. Yellowstone officials like to say they have something for everyone.

Yellowstone National Park is unrivaled for its natural bounty, a sensory experience cherished and remembered by all who come. Outdoor activities in nature are a bonus. Memories are made in Yellowstone.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Glacier National Park Can be Dangerous; Death for Some

RED LODGE POST

Nature is king in Glacier National Park. Nature operates and plays by its own rules, not within artificial boundaries understood and set by man.  Since 1910, when Glacier National Park was established, 260 people have met death at the hands of nature or from other causes in the park. Many more experienced dangerous situations and lived to tell about it.

The National Park Service does all it can do within its power to make the park safe for visitors. But when nature and people come together, bad things can sometimes happen.

For those who want to learn more about the tragedies in Glacier’s history, Death & Survival in Glacier National Park: True Tales of Tragedy, Courage, and Misadventure by C. W. Guthrie is well worth a read. Another book, “Death in Glacier National Park: Stories of Accidents and Foolhardiness in the Crown of the Continent by Randi Minetor recounts much the same.

Perhaps the most shocking is a tragedy which occurred in August,1967.  Within the space of a few short hours, at separate locations in Glacier National Park, two teenage girls, Julie Helgeson from Minnesota and Michele Koons from California, met death at the hands of marauding grizzly bears. This story is told in a book entitled Night of the Grizzlies, by Jack Olsen.

Visitors to Glacier should learn lessons from the past and be careful; further, religiously heed and follow the rules and guidelines for visitor activities and behavior set forth by the National Park Service.

Every visit to Glacier should and can be a wonderful and safe experience.  This post is not of the cheery sort, but tells of important things to know about nevertheless.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Grizzly Bear Science

RED LODGE POST

High interest and much progress in grizzly bear science is reported in a recent technical paper by John Sandy. This research appears in the journal Science and Technology Libraries.

ABSTRACT:

Grizzly bears inhabit wilderness areas in the northwestern region of the lower forty-eight states, western Canada, and areas of Alaska. Because of the settlement of the west and loss of prime habitat, populations declined rapidly in the nineteenth century, and in 1975 federal action was taken to protect grizzlies under the Endangered Species Act. Since 1950 about 722 technical papers have been written on the grizzly bear. Major research has focused on ecology, conservation, reproductive biology, behavior, dietetics, anatomy, and physiology, among other topics. Due to geographic distribution of the species, much of the research has been carried out by authors and organizations in western regions of the United States and Canada where major grizzly populations exist. A significant number of technical papers appear in three key journals: Ursus, the Journal of Wildlife Management, and the Canadian Journal of Zoology. According to data in WorldCat, about 1,167 records, covering monographs and technical reports, contain information on grizzlies and present research findings. The bulk of monographs appeal mainly to a general audience. However, citation analysis reveals a core of highly cited technical papers, many written with an emphasis on special themes or topics, whereas others focus on the grizzly itself, all together advancing the science on this species.

Keywords:
Grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis , brown bear, zoology, ecology, wildlife, Yellowstone ecosystem, conservation, recovery, bibliography, citation analysis, Alaska, California, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington

Grizzly Bear Science

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy