Where The Buffalo Roam
I have to start by saying that 26 hours in Yellowstone is too little time. Unfortunately that’s what we had to work with, given our timetable to get across country. Its quite daunting to try to absorb all the possibilities of what there is to do in the park and, somehow, narrow it down to a couple hikes and a few drives. It barely skims the surface. After our bear primer in Silver Gate, we felt prepared to take on the backcountry hikes where we could encounter wild creatures. We were lucky enough to come across a whole field of buffalo almost immediately upon entering the park. You can tell that there is wildlife around because there are a number of cars pulled over next to the road near where they are. All you have to do is pull over and look. Sure enough, we got to see the buffalo running around and frolicking in the field. Its pretty awesome to see that many creatures THAT LARGE, all wild and so very close.
We continued in through the park. Armed with whistles, water and bear spray, we headed to a hike that would take us to the top of Mount Washburn first. Three solid uphill, wild-blown, and somewhat grumpy, miles later and we finally got to the amazing peak. It was totally worth the sweat. There was a watchtower there with a bathroom, thankfully, and a glass lined room where you could be buffered from the chilly, intense winds. You could see for miles in all directions, including the Grand Tetons and the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.
After the hike, we checked into our rustic cabin in the Canyon Lodge. Oy. It was the most rough of the lodging we stayed in thus far, but it did have a lovely view out of the tiny window and it was clean. Feeling the room shake when our neighbors shut the door, and overhearing the conversation in some foreign Asian language next door because the walls were so thin, made me feel a little like we were back in Brooklyn. We ate in the Canyon Lodge restaurant, which was surprisingly decent (or we were just so famished from skipping lunch and hiking 7 miles). Later that night, we went for a drive around the park looking for wildlife, since they are most active at dawn and dusk. We saw an elk in a clearing and, on our way back to the room, had the treat of seeing a buffalo RIGHT NEXT TO THE ROAD. It was seriously molesting a small tree and really was paying no attention to the paparazzi mere feet away from it, clicking away. I was hoping for a bear sighting (from safely inside the car, that is), but this close encounter with this awesome beast was pretty darn satisfying.