Silence and Solitude Once Again: December in Yellowstone

Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park.  December, 2013. 

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Once again we’re all alone for two cold nights in Mammoth Campground.   Yellowstone in winter – especially before the Mammoth Hotel is open – can be harsh and cold, but there’s a stark beauty that’s worth a bit of discomfort.

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The critters seem oblivious to the few people who are around: they’re on a mission to get food and stay warm.

Bighorn Sheep paw through the snow, looking for a remnant of  last summer’s grass,

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and a coyote strides down the road…on a mission to find some lunch.

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His cousin, however, is momentarily stalled by a bison who is a bit close to his chosen route.

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The bears are asleep – we hope – but there is always the chance of running across a mountain lion, or a wolf, or a bobcat.   Not on this trip, though.   The possibility will have to suffice.

At the campground I watch a falcon harass a group of cedar waxwings who amuse me with their group panic and frantic flights from tree to tree.  The falcon doesn’t seem to tire of his game, even though his chance of actually catching one of the waxwings in flight can’t be too high.

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At the end of the day we head to the Boiling River, hoping that we’ll be able to have a soak in the hot pools without a lot of company.    To our surprise, we see more people soaking than we’ve seen all day in the park.  Oh well.  It’s still a gorgeous spot.

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As the moon rises on our last night, we hear a lone wolf howling from behind the hills across from our camp.  We never saw him, and no one answered, but it was enough to know that he was there.

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About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Camping, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife, Yellowstone and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Silence and Solitude Once Again: December in Yellowstone

  1. Dil Se says:

    Marvellous. Hope I can ever see all this in my lifetime 🙂

  2. brickthomas says:

    A beautiful piece and a winter trip I have thought about doing for too many years. Your post may be the inspiration I was waiting for. Thanks!

  3. So beautiful! You have really managed to capture the virginity and serenity of the landscape. 🙂

  4. beeseeker says:

    marvellous post. You have my respect.

  5. oopsjohn says:

    I have driven by there a hundred times, but never seen snow! I was wondering if they draw straws to see who jumps in the hot pool first to test if it is boiling or not. 🙂 And the wolf howl… That’s too close to Gardner, seems to me, because in Gardner they shoot wolves who stray out of the Park. 😦

    • westerner54 says:

      It’s a pretty great setting with all that snow around. And … yes, too close to being out of the park, for sure. I was having coffee the other day and overheard a hunter who was so excited because he was out hunting elk and happened to see a wolf who he could shoot since he also had a wolf tag. He wasn’t really planning to kill a wolf, but why not shoot it if you can?

  6. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! Thanks for posting.

  7. alpinemystic says:

    Excellent! Its great to see so much healthy wildlife. Thanks for the tour without the cold fingers!

  8. Janet says:

    Beautiful, and so peaceful.

  9. As always, you take me places I’ve never been and I am always amazed at the wildness you show me.

  10. Wild Writes says:

    Yellowstone in the winter time – something I have long been wanting to experience. You have captured it beautifully. Cheers to a new year full of adventures!

  11. Mind Margins says:

    One day I will visit Yellowstone in winter. My daughter and her husband are in Jackson Hole this week visiting friends and snowboarding and will probably visit the park. I can’t imagine camping in those temps, though! We swam in the Boiling River one summer and I remember thinking how much better it would be in the winter–though this Texan still appreciated the warm water!

    • westerner54 says:

      Last year there were a couple of folks in tents when we were camped there in the winter … hardy folks! Our little camper has a nice heater, but it’s pretty much too hot while it’s hot and immediately freezing when it goes off. Have you seen the public TV video about winter in Yellowstone? I think that’s actually the title. It’s beautiful.

      • Mind Margins says:

        Not sure if I’ve seen that one. I’ve seen others on the NatGeo channel. I can’t imagine tent camping in the snow. I’ve woken up twice on separate tent camping trips and it had snowed overnight, and both times we hightailed it out of there and got a hotel room!

  12. My dream winter destination. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures.

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