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Wyoming, Utah, and California, August 2009,
I send you a nature trip report that I did on August 2009 to Wyoming, Utah, and California (USA). I saw lots of birds and mammals. I think that it is a very interesting trip, highly recommended.
Family trip to USA, done between August 4th to 24th, 2009, visiting 4 national parks, two in Wyoming (Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park) and the other two in Utah (Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park), in addition to other interesting areas, as the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (Utah). Highly recommended trip, in which, in addition to the very beautiful landscapes, observation of mammals and birds is very easy. You can see pictures, maps, and the complete description on my blog in: http://arodris.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html
NATIONAL ELK REFUGE (Jackson Hole) (Wyoming)
Just before Grand Teton National Park, in its south entrance, there is the National Elk Refuge. In this small area, north to Jackson Hole, elk have their winter resting areas, moving from Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP. In august, as normal, we could not see any elk, but there was abundant birds.
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK (Wyoming)
Spectacular national park, with a variety of habitats, in which, due to its reduced dimensions (compared with Yellowstone), mammal observation is not complex. We stayed 3 nights in the Colter Bay Area. Jackson Hole is not very far from the park, which makes possible to sleep in the village and enter every morning to the park. Information about routes, maps, where to sleep, etc.. visit the Grand Teton National Park web page. I think that it is possibe to spend some more nights there, as we missed to do some other interesting trails.
We visited this area the same day that we arrived (that morning we stayed in National Elk Refuge, in Jackson Hole, and we did not have more time to do other things). This is an interesting area to see pronhorns and buffalos.
2. Colter Bay
Just in the Jackson Lake there is a village with some cabins where we slept. They were spacious and well equipped. There is also a campground, supermarket and fuel station. There we could do some interesting observations, and is the beginning of trail to Swan Lake.
3. Willow Flats and Oxbow Bend
Both areas are indispensable to see the moose. In addition, it is a good area to see waterfowl (pelicans, cormorants, and ducks). As it was near to Colter Bay Village, we tried to spend some time every day. Finally, a moose with its baby appeared.
4. Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point
After the first night, next morning we did this excursion (it was calified as of moderate difficulty, although I think that it is relatively easy, only with moderate slope). We took the ship to cross Jenny Lake, and then the trail arrives to a beautiful waterfall, and to a point with a beautiful panorama. Numerous squirrels, pikas, and some birds. Possible the more crowded excursion that we did, but do not forget it. First, in route to Jenny Lake, we were able to see a black bear.
5. Mormon Row
That afternoon, following Hidden Falls, we visited the Mormon Row area. Beautiful landscapes, with mountains at the end. In this area we observed buffalos, Uinta squirrels, and pronghorns. In this national park the weather was rainy during the last part of the days. This day we had a huge storm.
6. Swan Lake and Heron Pond
Next day, during the morning, we went to Swan Lake and Heron Pond. This easy trail allowed us to visit to wonderful lakes, through conifer woods. We enjoyed very much with fauna observation, and, in addition to passerines, we saw muskrat (initially confounded with a beaver), mule deer, squirrels, and osprey.
7. Polecat Creek Trail
Finally, the morning of the third day we visited, in route to Yellowstone, the Polecat Creek Trail. Polecat Creek is a river in which we could see cranes, passerines and ducks.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Wyoming)
We spent 6 nights in this national park. This is the minimal time to stay there, as it is a huge area, with lots of things to see. Due to its size and speed velocity in the roads (40 miles/h), I think that it is important to sleep inside the park. The first two nights we stayed in the south area, in Grant Village, and the last four in the north, in Mammoth Hot Springs. As can be seen in some pictures, it is possible to see the effects of the fires that affected the park in the past. To know more about the park (maps, trails, where to sleep, etc) visit the Yellowstone National Park web page.
1. West Thumb Geyser Basin
This area was located near Grant Village, where, in addition to visit the geothermal area, we did an small excursion to see some views on Yellowstone Lake. In the lake it is possible to enjoy doing some birdwatching.
2. Old Faithful Area
This is the most touristic area in the park. The highest concentrations of geysers. You have to visit it. We observed there a marmot and passerines.
3. Madison River, Firehall Falls, Fountain Paint Pot,…
Beautiful valley with some elks, and some bald eagles. Beautiful waterfalls can be also visited.
4. Pelican Valley and Hayden Valley
Visit to Pelican valley is INDISPENSABLE. Easy trail, which begins far from the river, then reaching some prairies, some burned woods, conifer woods, and more prairies, finally approaching the river. But it indispensable not only for their landscapes, but also because it is primary habitat for brown bear. Yes, we could observed one brown bear for more than 45 minutes at about 300 m of distance. Furthermore, we could also see passerines, squirrels, and raptors. Regarding Hayden valley, it is similar to Pelican Valley. It is also primary habitat for brown bear. In addition, buffalos from the west of the national park move, in summer, to this area and to the Lamar river valley (where I recommend to go to try to see them, as they are more abundant in Lamar valley). We only could visit Hayden valley by car, due to time limitations, but, in addition to buffalos, it is easy to see waterfowl in the river.
5. Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley
We spent 4 nights in Mammoth Hot Springs, in a cabin that was more modest than that in Gran Teton National Park. In was very easy to see elks in the same village every night. Passerines were abundant. Regarding Lamar Valley, it is the other excursion that I consider as ESSENTIAL. It is necessary to move by car, stopping as soon as you see something interesting. Highly recommended for buffalo, pronghorn, bald eagles, and Falco mexicanus. We also observed a young brown bear.
6. Canyon Village and Yellowstone Upper and Lower Falls
This area contains the best waterfalls in the park, and the Yellowstone canyon.
BEAR RIVER MIGRATORY BIRD REFUGE (Brigham City)
Interesing refuge for ducks and other waterfowl. We only could spent some hours, but I think that you can stay for two nights in Brigham City (only at 3.4 miles from the refuge) to visit it in detail. Information in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge web page.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
As we knew this park from a previous trip, we only spent two nights there, sleeping outside the park. Beautiful landscapes, and good fauna observation. Information in the Bryce Canyon National Park web site.
1. Between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point
This is the more visited area in the park, in its central area. In addition to wonderful landscapes, it is interesting to do the easy trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point (2h).
2. Between Inspiration Point and Rainbow Point
In the south of the park there are several observation points, in which you can stop to see the scenary and where you can see pronghorns and Turkey vultures.
3. Mossy Cave Trail
Short and easy trail (30 min, one way) in the only water source in the park, including an small waterfall.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
We only spent one night in this park, and then I can not recommed too much. It consists in a canyon formed by the river, with areas of semidesert. There breeds the peregrine falcon, although we could not observe any one. To obtain information, visit the Zion National Park web site.
1. East Entrance
In the road to the east entrance we could observe some bighorn sheep, in a desert area.
2. Zion Canyon y Temple of Sinawava
We did the trail to the Temple de Sinawava, inside the Zion canyon. In addition to some squirrels, we enjoyed with the wonderful views of the canyon.
We finished our trip in Anaheim, to visit the Disney and Universal Studios parks. In the motel we observed an Allen's hummingbird and in Universal Studios, some mourning doves.