A handsome black wolf stopping by to check out the campsite is a pretty auspicious start to a weekend in Yellowstone, don’t you think?
We arrived at the Mammoth Campground in Yellowstone at about 6:00 on Friday evening. We set up camp, and while Bill was getting out the chairs, I walked down to the pay station to make us legal. I put the envelope in the box, turned around, and was stunned to see a beautiful black wolf strutting down the road toward our campsite…only a hundred feet from me! Amazing. We’ve seen wolves many times in Yellowstone, but rarely this close, and never in a campground.
I watched him go around the bend, and then hurried back to the campspot, hoping that Bill had not missed this sight. He hadn’t….not by a long shot. He had just set out the chairs and sat down with a whisky and potato chips when the wolf trotted past, stopped, turned, and stared intently at Bill. He said it seemed like it was for minutes, but was actually only seconds. The wolf then turned and loped off down the road.
Of course, neither of us had a camera anywhere close.
I do, however, have a video of three wolves from the Canyon Pack that we took in the fall of 2010 in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley. I think this beautiful black wolf could be related to this pack, since one of the adults in the pack was black. Or….who knows? Here’s the video, which gives you a good sense of how self-assured and regal these animals can be:
What a great start to the weekend.
March is a dandy month to visit Yellowstone, especially if the weather cooperates even a little. There just are not many people in the park in March. There were only two other campers in the Mammoth Campground (which is why the wolf was taking that particular shortcut, I’m sure) and the roads are beautifully car-free:
Three bison had apparently died by the Blacktail Ponds last week, and we watched a coyote and some ravens finishing up the last of what must have quite a feast for the wolves and bears. The coyote didn’t seem at all nervous, so I’m sure the wolves were long gone. We’ve watched coyotes sneak into a wolf-kill, and if the wolves are anywhere nearby, they are constantly on guard. This one wasn’t worried at all.
And the nearby bison were clearly no longer stressed:
That afternoon we saw more coyotes, bighorn sheep, and an elk who didn’t like me looking at her.
Then, we saw the black wolf again. We’d chosen a spot on a hillside to sit and scope out the surroundings. We didn’t see much, and were just relaxing when he ran across a meadow about a 1/2 mile away. Actually, I can’t be sure it was the same wolf, but it was a lone black wolf, and he sure seemed to be on a mission. The spot was gorgeous, and deserves a picture:
We finished the day with a crabby Clark’s Nutcracker who wanted better snacks than we had, a walk along the Gardner River, and a soak in the Boiling River. No return visit from the black wolf, but we won’t forget him.