90 Percent of National Park Visitors Never Leave the Road
I read one time that 90 Percent of National Park Visitors Never Leave the Road, some even estimate 95% of visitors don’t venture more than 100 feet off the pavement. An article I read just yesterday that talked about the crowds, and the problems they create in Yellowstone, said that 95% of the people, use 5% of the park.
This is pretty sad. Sure, most parks have roads that take you from one part of the park to another, and generally there is beautiful scenery along these roads. But to not get off the beaten path, walk were the animals do, and soak up the beauty, seems like such a waste. Obviously there are people who are physically unable to do more than see what they can from the roads, and thankfully they can experience the parks in this way. But there are a lot of people who simply choose not to explore.
Two mornings this week we got up super early, drove to were we had seen the elk before, and just started walking through the woods. No trail, no path, no set point we were trying to get to. Just followed the sound of elk bugling.
We were rewarded with this enormous 6 x 8 bull and his harem of cows.
This other bull was not quite sure what to make of us sneaking through his woods. He stopped and looked at us, then bugled at us.
Apparently deciding we were no threat, he went on his way.
A bald eagle flew overhead, with the Tetons behind him.
The second day we went exploring, the elk were not bugling for some reason, so we had a really hard time finding them in the thick woods. We saw a few, but they saw us too and would melt back into the trees. We went a different route through the woods, and came out above Schwabacher landing. And saw these guys. This is an easy, and popular spot to get to, and sometimes there are moose.
Then there are the mornings I set out on my own. No matter where I choose to go, there is always something to see. This fawn crossed the river behind his mom. See the little nubs on his head? Future buck right there.
He took a second to dry off, then bounded away.
Of course I love seeing the moose.
I have also been trying to capture some of the birds around here. This little yellow bird is flighty, and flits from branch to branch so fast. But their color is amazing, especially against the yellow leaves. He is a Wilsons Warbler and from I read they migrate through this time of year.
This is a Gray Jay. I’ve never seen one before, and he was eating hawthorne berries the other morning.
I guess for me personally, it’s ok that 90% of National Park visitors never leave the road, then we can have the peace and beauty to ourselves. Because on the other end of that, is the all too famous animal jam. The very worst of which, is a bear jam. This happens when any animal is spotted from the road by a passerby. Then more people stop, then even more people stop. If it’s a bear, then the rangers show up, and the volunteer bear brigade. And pretty quick you have a major cluster. I was part of the biggest animal jam I’ve personally been a part of the other day.
Early last week Al was gone for 3 days to Utah to take back the cargo trailer full of furniture. While he was gone, I of course couldn’t drive anywhere, so when he got back I drove up to the north end of Teton park. He was pooped, and certainly didn’t want more driving time so stayed home. I have become friends with a lot of photographers around here, and when you get in that circle, wildlife sightings are shared and relayed. As I was driving, 2 people told me that grizzly 399 and her cubs were being seen and they told me were to go. As much as we are here, and as hard as we look, we have never seen a grizzly and my friends knew this.
I was thrilled to finally see her and the cubs. At first she was way back in the thick grass and impossible to get a shot of. Then she decided to cross the road. A bear on the road is not exactly the shot we all want, but I wasn’t going to be picky. Interesting side note about 399. She is 21 years old, has had numerous sets of cubs, and is the most popular bear in the park.
Cub number 1 crossed right after her.
Cub number 2, hesitated, and seemed a bit confused when he did finally start to come out.
He stood in the middle of the road unsure were his mom had gone.
Then went between the cars, and joined her in the bushes.
There were a ton of people, as this was all happening on one of the main roads in the park. The ranger was so good, and so nice to people and made sure that everyone was were they should be, and the bears had enough space. They were kinda visible in the willows and grass after that, but then disappeared.
I have read a lot lately about the National Parks all over the country being loved to death, then I read the current president wants to cut funding to the parks. This will certainly have a negative impact, because the park system has a hard enough time as it is. There really is a need for more rangers, facilities, and just general workers. It seems this turned into a rambling post, about one thing and another. But I guess the biggest take away is this. I am a public land owner, so are you and every other American out there. Get out there and enjoy, and embrace our public lands. Relish in their beauty. Get off the beaten path to find the hidden treasures.
Before it’s too late.