Travel Destination: Yellowstone Day 1

Where to start when dealing with Yellowstone?

Probably the only way I can do this is to not try and put everything into one post, but try to break it down somehow. So here goes:

When we arrived at our accommodations in the small town of West Yellowstone Mt, just out side the park, it was in the early afternoon and driving since early morning we decided not to head into the park that day, but take in the sights of the town by walking around the main block of it. We looked in many a shop, checked the local restaurants and visited the local animal park. We ended the day by catching a film at the IMAX theater and dinning at Gushers Pizzeria & Sandwich Shop.

As you can see our accommodations (Kelly Inn) was not very far from the park, the shopping/dinning district, the IMAX theater and the animal park. The rooms were very nice and comfortable and the rates are reasonable for the area (West Yellowstone and Gardiner Mt are the closets towns to the park and so the room rates are more expensive then staying in Cody or Jackson Wy for that reason. The rate was $130 per night but well worth it).

Besides a door leading directly outside, there was a second door that led to an interior hallway. This hallway takes you to the main reception area where you can get a free breakfast and also to the indoor pool.

So after checking in we decided to walk over to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. This center has a small indoor exhibit area where you purchase your ticket. From there you can walk outside to their viewing areas for the wolf packs and one grizzly enclosure. In between the two wold pack enclosures there is a small lecture/presentation hut were different animal experts put on various presentations for all areas. Twice a day the center has to seed the bear enclosure with food, so they bring the bears inside. When that happens they take out small children, that sign up for this, out into the enclosures to hide the food the bears:

Keeper Kids – Join us for an exciting activity especially designed for kids ages 5-12. In this unique program, kids first learn about grizzly bear eating habits and then accompany the naturalist and animal keeper into the bear habitat to hide food for some of our resident bears. After the food is hidden, kids get to learn how bears use their sense of smell to search out food. Space in this program is limited, so please sign up with a staff naturalist on the day you want to join in the fun. Keeper Kids is offered twice a day during the summer, and at various times during the fall and winter months. This program does require a $2 partcipation fee, all other programs are included with the price of admission to the Center.

The kids get all the fun ūüôā
Here are some of the photos we took at the center:
The wolves in the above photos are from the first Wolf Enclosure and are part of one of the three packs at the center. These wolves are bigger and older then the wolves in the second pack which appear in the photos below:

They have several Grizzly Bears at the center but only two were out when we visited, a brother and sister pair that were rescued after their mother disappeared:

These photos were taken on June 10th in the late afternoon just after it had finished raining. The temperature in West Yellowstone at that time was in the mid 50’s. After we got done watching the wolves and bears in the center, we visited their gift shop where they had some very nice pieces of merchandise including a the wall hanging in the photo below.

The wolves and bears in the wall hangings they sell are of the wolves and bears in the center.

To give some more background on where these wolves and bears came from. The Wolves came from areas where the habitat couldn’t support them and instead of being left to a long an lingering death from starvation or being euthanized for ones born in captivity,¬†they were given a home at the center. As to the bears they were all either nuisance bears or¬†cubs of nuisance bears. Typically nuisance bears end up being killed because they become so used to eating out of human waste receptacles and landfills they become a danger due to failure of relocation. Instead the center has given them a home were they can live out their days peacefully and in the case of the bears in the photos above stopped a sad situation from becoming a tragedy:

Sam and illie, twin brother and sister were placed in captivity as young cubs after their mother disappeared in Alaska. These two bears wandered in to a fishing village where people (young and old) began hand-feeding them, becoming quite the attraction and a dangerous situation. Without a mother to care for them and becoming habituated to human food, these bears had to be placed in captivity and arrived at the Center in 1996. Being from the coastline of Alaska, these two bears are very large, with Sam weighing approximately 1050 pounds and his sister illie close to 800 pounds. Sam was named after the fishing village of King Salmon and illie after Mount iliamna, both areas are near their birthplace.

Visit the Grizzly and Wolf Center website below to learn more about these animals and others:

From there we checked out what was playing and the times for them at the IMAX theater (While there is only one screen the theater shows different films at different times). Noting that the film we wanted to see was not due for a few hours we decided to stroll around the 2 block main shopping and dining area of the town, peaking into the various shops, comparing prices and looking for a good place to eat after the film. After that we returned to the IMAX theater and watched a film on the wolves of Yellowstone.

The tickets we purchased also gave us a discount on a second film, if we returned in a certain amount of days which we did on our final full day in Yellowstone which I will go into when I get to that day.

After the film we decided that it was getting a little on the nippy side and drove over to Gushers Pizzeria & Sandwich Shop for dinner. The name is misleading, besides pizza’s, burgers and various other ‚Äúfast‚ÄĚ food they also served up various types of steak and other regular restaurant faire. The prices were very reasonable, the service and staff excellent, the food very tasty and the atmosphere eclectic (where else do you have to look around a mounted moose head to see the stock car race on TV while a waiter pours a glass of fine wine at the table in front of you, while at the same time a group of Hungarian scientists and their post grad students, at the table next to you, discuss their day in the park observing Grizzlies?). One word of warning the place is very popular and if you want to sit down and eat there, instead of to go or having it delivered, you might have to wait a bit in line.

As we returned to our room for the night you could hear the call of the wolves in the center and no matter how many times you have heard that call in recordings you will have a visceral, instinctive reation to it. When that occurs you will realize the truth of what  Jack London wrote about:  it is truly the  Call of the Wild.


2 responses to “Travel Destination: Yellowstone Day 1

  1. Pauline Long August 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    This is great. glad to know about it.

  2. Pingback: Travel Destination: Yellowstone Day 3 « Things I Find Interesting

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