THERE’S A BEAR IN THERE
IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE PARK TODAY, YOU’RE SURE OF A BIG SURPRISE
If you want to spot a grizzly bear, I’ve decided you have to think like a grizzly bear. So if I was a bear in Yellowstone National Park, where would I hang out? Down by the river having a drink. It made perfect sense to me, so for three days my family and I scoured the river banks of the world-renowned American national park for its most famous resident.
But in an ecosystem as big and as diverse as Yellowstone, you never know what will be around the next corner. The park is huge – seriously huge – and you could spend days driving from one end to the other.
As twilight fell on our first day, we were motoring through a valley with eyes peeled when we caught a flash of movement.
We pulled over and reached for the binoculars to watch what looked to be a wolf tiptoeing along the shoreline.
It turned out to be a coyote and we sat transfixed as the stealthy hunter approached another coyote coming from the opposite direction. After a Mexican stand-off, both animals started wagging their tails and played a quick game of chase before resuming their solitary sojourns.
The next day we came around a corner to find a magnificent moose strutting through a meadow without a care in the world.
Herds of bison – the park’s most prolific residents – are everywhere.
We eventually came across one of Yellowstone’s wolf packs in the Lamar Valley, but had to borrow the high-powered binocs of the serious nature watchers to get a closer look.
Watching a wolf howl through the binoculars and then hearing the eerie sound creep across the valley was a goosebumps moment.
But despite stories from other travellers who had seen one the day before or an hour ago, we never did see a bear in the wild.
To do that we had to make a beeline for Bozeman and the Montana Grizzly Encounter.
Here bears orphaned by hunters, or deemed problem animals for neighbouring communities, are given a new lease of life in a centre with room to roam. The main exhibit is about the size of a football field. There’s even a man-made mountain stream and it’s here that, finally, I see bears having a drink.