We went to Yellowstone National Park the first week of September, so it was not prime tourist season. There were a few traffic jams during our time in the park. One was caused by a huge motor home that hadn’t quite made a U-turn and apparently got stuck trying to maneuver underneath a tree branch or something. Fortunately that didn’t last long, but looking at the bumper of the car ahead of me is not really what I’m after on vacation. At least there were pine trees out the side window to look at. Other traffic jams were caused by people trying to find places to pull over so they could take pictures of bears, bison, or elusive elk.
We saw one bear that was very far away and only looked like a speck. Even a telephoto lens wouldn’t have been enough to make taking its picture really worthwhile. I think we saw one elk as it disappeared behind a grove of small trees. But the bison were nearly everywhere. The first afternoon we spotted a herd on the opposite bank of the river. Fortunately, there was a parking area here so we were able to get out of the car and walk down to the river. The area was big enough that people weren’t elbow-to-elbow trying to take pictures. The area was nicely wooded but wasn’t so dense that it made for a difficult trek.
They warn you to stay away from the bison. These are big, heavy animals and they’ve been known to charge cars. In short, don’t piss them off by poking your camera or finger into their faces. Since they were on the other side of the river it was probably not too dangerous to walk around a little, and I’m sure we could have sprinted for the car if any of them had decided to cross the water. But they were pretty interested in grazing and relaxing and didn’t seem to pay attention to the puny humans scattered on the opposite river bank.
Later, we were driving along the main road and there were a few bison off to the right-hand side of the road and a few more up ahead of us. We were watching the ones ahead, because the cars in front of us were slowing down and traffic was becoming a bit intense. I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and found a bison standing about ten feet away from our car. He wasn’t moving very fast, and I was able to roll the window down just enough that I didn’t have to take his picture through the glass. I managed to get a couple of good shots of him as he strolled by the car.