Winter in Wonderland

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Posted by Granite Head ( on 16:09:10 01/04/20

In Reply to: Winter Visit posted by FLScott

Winter is probably my favorite season in Yellowstone, next to late May-early June when the baby animals are popping out all over. You don't say what your priorities are in terms of experiences, but let me address first wildlife:
Great time to see animals, many of which use the groomed roads to travel because they expend a lot less energy than tromping through deep snow, and because many are more visible against the white backdrop. You can be sure you'll see bison everywhere, and elk at least in Mammoth. Also keep an eye out for foxes and coyotes, in their luxurious winter outfits. Moose in the northern range (the area between Mammoth and Northeast Entrance plowed for personal vehicle use). As Ballpark noted, bighorn sheep hang out where Soda Butte Creek meets the Lamar River, known as "the confluence," also in the northern range. Wolves, most likely in the Northern Range (watch for wolfers with scopes set up in the pullouts, most are delighted to show you what they're looking at, just pull completely off the road into a plowed pullout to be safe). Otters where there s enough open water between ice floes in the Lamar River (look from the bridge over the Lamar), at the confluence, and in the Yellowstone River where you might see them from Chittenden Bridge, just south of the Canyon area (ask your coach driver to swing by). Trumpeter swans and other water fowl in the rivers, occasional owls in the trees, grouse in the brush, ravens, magpies, and eagles, especially around carcasses. From Mammoth you can drive north through the arch, turn left, pass the school and the Resource Center, continue north along the Old Yellowstone Trail, where many ungulates spend the winter. You may get a good look at pronghorns, bison, elk, mule deer, and sheep there. Turn right when you get to the bridge at Corwin Springs (only bridge you come to), cross the Yellowstone, and turn right on 89 to get back to the park via Gardiner.
If that interests you, be sure to take good binoculars, and if you're a photographer, your longest lens. Remember to over-expose slightly due to the reflection of light off the snow that tricks your camera into thinking you need less light than you do, especially when shooting a big dark lump like a bison.
Photo taken from the cozy safety of my car!

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