My Return to Yellowstone

Written by Sue Cruver, Wildlife Expeditions Participant


©Sue Cruver

In February of this year, I took my first journey into the wild with the Houston Zoo to Yellowstone National Park. It was an amazing, life-changing experience. Led by the outstanding expedition biologists from the Teton Science Schools (TSS), I found myself surrounded by breathtaking beauty and an abundance of wildlife.  I learned so much about the different animal species, their habits and the environment, as well as the balance of nature and park conservation.

Weather made that trip a challenging one. It was cold, cloudy and snowing most of the time. Several entrances in and out of Yellowstone had to be temporarily closed, resulting in changes to our itinerary and travel routes. Not a problem. Our experienced TSS guides provided alternatives and our adventure never missed a beat. At the end of the week, it was hard to come home. I couldn’t wait to return!

©Sue Cruver

The Houston Zoo provides some great opportunities to “Travel with the Zoo.” Each year, it includes two trips to the Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks in partnership with TSS. Together, the two organizations give participants the chance to enjoy the region in different seasons and to see how wildlife adapts to seasonal changes.

Bears, for example, are hibernating in February, but not in May. Springtime means much of the wildlife will now be with their young. It also means sunshine, green grass and blue skies. As a photographer who had taken dozens of “white” pictures in February, that could mean great color shots! What was I waiting for? The Zoo still had openings for its May 2017 trip and I had to go. So I did.

©Sue Cruver

Weather! Always be prepared, don’t assume, and be sure to layer your clothing. That is one lesson I’ve got down pat. Snow in the middle of May? Never happens, but that’s how our May adventure started, along with a road closure into Yellowstone from Jackson Hole. But again, our wonderful TSS guides provided a detour that got us there via Idaho. Not a problem.

The May trip is three days in the wild. Snow fell the first day as we traveled from Jackson Hole, Wyoming (south of Yellowstone) to Cooke City, Montana (northeast corner outside the park). Along the way we saw bison with their calves, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, and a few grizzly bears with year old cubs. To see these animals in a few inches of snow vs. a few feet of snow already gave me a different perspective of life in Yellowstone. And, I now could add “bears in snow” to my photographic efforts!

©Sue Cruver

As we drove back into the park at dawn the next day from Cooke City, the sun broke through the clouds and the temperature began to rise. Snow began to melt and color started to emerge everywhere. It was incredibly beautiful and truly magical!

©Sue Cruver

The snowy white landscape sparkled from the sunlight, and the fields and hills gradually transformed into variations of greens and browns. The sky was blue with streaks of sunlight and scattered with clouds. Tall pine trees released snow from their boughs, adding more depth and color everywhere you looked. Wildflowers peeked through a remaining thin blanket of snow.  I was in photography heaven!

©Sue Cruver

Throughout the day and the next, we witnessed a variety of wildlife and bird life as all enjoyed the return of springtime—big horn sheep relaxing on a hillside, grazing herds of bison with their calves, coyotes on the hunt or devouring a kill, grizzly bears with cubs on the move. Some special observations included finding the den of a wolf pack and its recently born cubs, an osprey resting on top of its nest near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone waterfall, and a four-year old “teenage” bald eagle displaying its not-yet full adult plumage—a rare sighting.

©Sue Cruver

Again, it was hard to come home after such a successful Houston Zoo and Teton Science Schools adventure. Will I return again next year? That’s the plan!

 

May 2017

www.SueCruverPhotography.com



Search Blog & Website
Subscribe to Houston Zoo News
Get the latest stories and updates from the Zoo in your inbox! Find out how: Houston Zoo News
Houston Zoo Facebook Page

Zoo Boo weekend number two! Join us this weekend for Halloween activities. Bring your little gobblins, ghouls, and ghosts and have a spooktacular time!

All Zoo Boo activities are included in your Zoo admission or your Membership.
... See MoreSee Less

1

Zoo Boo weekend number two! Join us this weekend for Halloween activities. Bring your little gobblins, ghouls, and ghosts and have a spooktacular time!

All Zoo Boo activities are included in your Zoo admission or your Membership.

 

Comment on Facebook

How much are the tickets?

I told u dude

Dina Reyes Dora Zmagaňa for the kids

Lets go Laura Sanchez

JD Tagle

TheMizzes Get Right

Suany Zambrano

Ruby Rodriguez Ruben Rodriguez

Alex Garza

+ View more comments

See "Hotel Transylvania" at the Zoo this Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
New this fall, we've got even more Halloween fun for the entire family. Dress in your best costume and visit the Zoo for a spooktacular Zoovie Night.

The movie begins at 7:15 p.m. Activities & games will run from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Only guests attending the movie screening will be allowed to remain in the Zoo after 7:00 p.m.
... See MoreSee Less

2

See Hotel Transylvania at the Zoo this Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
New this fall, weve got even more Halloween fun for the entire family. Dress in your best costume and visit the Zoo for a spooktacular Zoovie Night. 

The movie begins at 7:15 p.m. Activities & games will run from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Only guests attending the movie screening will be allowed to remain in the Zoo after 7:00 p.m.

 

Comment on Facebook

Houston Zoo what are admission pricing for this event? There is no details on the website. :(

What the prices for the movie

How much

Cory Bebee can we do this Saturday after the birthday party?

Shannon Harris, maybe we could do this? Activities are at 5.... I could just be Thurs wheel unless Jesse gets off lol

Gracias, no se si podremos ir pero si se acomoda todo ahí estaremos

Ok lobs, so we know where we will be 😎 Radnee okay kaya?

Philip, movie night at the zoo? 😊

Laura Inman Ricky Heeth this may be fun for yalls kiddos

Sandra Ideker-Soulé dang it I wish I was gonna be here Saturday night I’d totally take ben!!!

Cat Patzen think baby boss would like this?

Mario Mancillas want to take juliette she likes this movie

Darleen is the movie on Saturday?

James Clancy we have to take Chloe!

Brian Williams we should take briley!!

What happens if it rains?

Let’s go I’m down

This looks like fun😃

Heather Bourg Lopez?

Amy let's take our babies??

Aaron I wanna go

Luis Flores let’s take Lauren

Go next weekend when Im off.

Ash Denton LET'S GO!!

Sergio Navarro Checo this is cool too

+ View more comments

Houston Zoo added 6 new photos.
Houston Zoo

Yesterday, Houston Texans Ryan Griffin, Tom Savage, and Nick Martin and their families made some new friends at the Houston Zoo. Thanks for spending your day off with us, guys -- Go Texans! ... See MoreSee Less

3

 

Comment on Facebook

Houston, we are extremely fortunate to have such a fabulous Zoo..! 🤠🙌🏼❤️

Becca Dorris look at all the people you could meet!

Love it!!❤️❤️

Betsy Oliver Freeman Your team!!

Why yes it is!!! 😍👍🏼🏈

Bravo a toute l équipe

Jeanine Davis Pitts

Michael Zarate

+ View more comments