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Spring has sprung in Yellowstone

By © Daryl L. Hunter – The Hole Picture

Sunrise, Steamboat Point, Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, winter, frozen lake (© Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Sunrise at Steamboat Point, the ice on Yellowstone Lake will tenaciously persist until early June

Alpha Wolf, Canyon Pack, 712, Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park (© Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Canyon Pack Alpha male wolf 712m, returns to the Hayden Valley

Spring has sprung it Yellowstone and now its time to go for a drive. Most of the gates are open and all soon will be.  The weather is shaping up, and Yellowstone’s peak predator viewing is in full swing.

Around the first of April Grizzlies without cubs started coming out of their dens followed shortly by sows with older cubs.  We are still waiting for the bears with new cubs to emerge from their dens with new little balls of fur, but the wait won’t be long.

The Canon Pack wolves are moving back into the Hayden Valley after wintering elsewhere with less snow. The Lamar and Blacktail packs have been seen throughout the winter and continue to put on a nice show for the lucky who find them.

Mountain Bluebird Yellowstone National Park (© Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Mountain Bluebirds have brought their splash of color to Yellowstone

Many grazing animals are looking pretty rough as always after a winter of meager food foraging but the will fatten up as the longer days and warm sun make the meadows bloom with lush grasses and forbes although the rally weak ones will be harvested by the wolves and grizzly bears. Bison calves are dropping in all the valleys and Elk will start calving in June, an unfortunate few will be dinner fare for the predators, but such is the circle of life.

Bluebirds are again bringing the flash of iridescent blue to the earth tones of the sagebrush steppe. White Pelicans are again on the Yellowstone River eating their four pounds of trout per day, a feast that will last them throughout the summer. Golden Eyes, Merganzers and Mallards are already a common sight on the rivers and a few harlequins have their spring territory staked out at LeHardy Rapids. Other birds like the American Avocets and grebes are just passing through.

Spring in Yellowstone is often cold and snowy because of its average elevation of 7,600 feet above sea level but it is an amazing time to be in Yellowstone. The mountain peaks still have multiple yards, meters, and in some places dozens of feet of snow on them and the open valleys have lost theirs. This causes all the animals of Yellowstone to concentrate in the valley bottoms.  The valley bottoms are where the roads are. From Yellowstone’s roads in spring gather the photographers and wildlife watchers, in the know, who can get away from home before the summer rush when the schools release their children upon the resorts of America.

Snaggletooth the Grizzly Bear at Mud Volcano in Yellowstone National Park.  An overcast sky provided perfect lighting, snow flakes added interest and Snaggletooth proved to be a great model (© Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Snaggletooth the Grizzly Bear at Mud Volcano in Yellowstone National Park

In early summer the snows of the Yellowstone Plateau melt then scatter down the Yellowstone River, the Snake River, and the Missouri River delivering irrigation water to a good portion of the United States.  After the snow evacuates Yellowstone’s peaks, the valley wildlife of spring scatter to every corner of ecosystem. High, and low they go throughout the wilderness and the predator and prey show is diminished greatly as the wildlife disseminates throughout the wilderness.

Spring is when I invest most of my photography time in Yellowstone, as is the case with dozens of my friends. For me Yellowstone in spring has become more than just a portfolio packing time for my photography, it has become a time to again see my photographer friends from across the world who all gather here for a common interest, a time we can compare experiences of the past year – a rendezvous of sorts of folks who share a passion for wildlife. I have come to enjoy this renewal of friendship with like-minded souls as much as the wildlife and landscape photography experience itself.

I love Yellowstone in spring.

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4 thoughts on “Spring has sprung in Yellowstone

  1. Jeff Clow says:

    Great post, Daryl…..and although I don’t show up in Jackson Hole until July – I sure do enjoy seeing the spring activity every year through your lens.

  2. LeAnn Yeates says:

    Daryl, I just wanted to say your writing is ALMOST as beautiful as your photography……..I enjoy both so much and only HOPE to inspire others half as much with my work as much as you have inspired me! Wish I had another 60 years of life to start over and just do this thing we love so much, much earlier and longer – since I don’t and won’t, I hope to simply ‘pursue and shoot’ with all the energy I have left in this life so others can enjoy what we see as photographers. The journey and the adventures are more than I ever expected, lol! Thanks for taking the time to talk with, inspire, mentor, motivate, and just befriend those who share your passion. Your humility in doing that……since not all photographers are ‘nice’………is amazing. Hope we see you again soon. Stay safe and stay in love with all you do.

    • LeAnn, it was my pleasure meeting you and John the other day. Like I said in this post, I enjoy the camaraderie as much as the photography.

      The economics fo digital photography lets us learn faster and easier than back in the film days. The quantum leap my quality has made since I started shooting digital in 2007 is huge. Put your head in the books and your body in the field as often as possible and you will be surprised how fast your skill will grow.

      Glad you like my writing, I do have many “hot to” posts on this blog you might be able to put to good use.

      See you out there 😀

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