Have you ever seen the air sparkle? Well, that happens in Yellowstone during the winter. During February 2014, 6 Houstonians ventured to Yellowstone for a special winter adventure with the Houston Zoo. All of our Yellowstone adventures are made possible by our partners at Teton Science School’s Wildlife Expeditions. The Teton Science School is an incredible educational non-profit organization that provides us with leading Yellowstone wildlife biologists to guide our trips.
Our trips are always full of unforgettable wildlife sightings, and this winter trip was no exception. We found ourselves eye-to-eye with several herds of bighorn sheep foraging for food on the side of the road.
We spotted several moose and witnessed an exciting, aggressive display between two adults. We had some great photo opportunities as the large mammals reared up and kicked each other with their sharp front hooves.
We joined thousands of elk in a horse drawn cart in the National Elk Refuge. The herds remained calm with the horses allowing us to be in very close proximity of huge bull elk.
We saw many bison trudging through deep snow, foraging for food with snow balls on their beards. Birds of prey like the ruffed-legged hawk sat on high vantage points to wait for rodent movement in the snow. One of our guides even spotted some tracks that lead us to a very rare, exciting site, a bob cat! He was quietly sitting beside a river waiting for unsuspecting ducks to pass by.
Old Faithful and the thermal features were outstanding! They spewed liquid that evaporated in midair. We stayed the night at a lodge near old faithful and had an early morning walk that allowed us to see some Old Faithful eruptions without anyone else around.
One of the highlights of this winter Yellowstone experience was rides in a special vehicle called a snow coach. The heavy snow is not conducive to regular traffic at the high elevations of the park so snow coaches (cars with ski thingies on the bottom) and snow mobiles become a necessary mode of transportation. We got to spend two days riding around in these cool vehicles.
We enjoyed some thrilling wolf watching. The wolves love the cold weather and were very active. We spied on a pack of five bounding through the snow for a half hour one day.
Yellowstone is magical in the winter. This was a fun filled adventure and it was the first time we have been in Yellowstone in the winter. We lead wildlife focused Yellowstone tours regularly in the Spring and Fall, so you can join us to see baby animals in the Spring or hear the impressive elk bugle in the Fall. Visit HERE for more on how to join us on these exciting adventures.
The Houston Zoo houses several North American animals that are found in Yellowstone, like our newest bear cubs and bobcat kitten, and we are very proud to do what we can to support that beautiful National Park. We provide funding to the Teton Science School for their wildlife research and educational programming to ensure long-term protection for wildlife in North America’s first National Park.
Remember, every time you visit the Zoo or come on a trip into the wild with us, you help us protect animals in the wild. A portion of your admission, membership or trip price goes directly to saving animals in the wild.
All of the photos in this post are courtesy of Winter Yellowstone traveler, Bill Fisher. Thank you, Bill!