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Posts tagged ‘Buffalo’


The wonders of Yellowstone National Park are numerous!  Eventually I will post something about its mountains and valleys, river and lakes, and—of course—its thermal features.

But seeing some of the animals that call Yellowstone National Park home is really incredible.  There are many I have not yet seen:  bear, moose, otter, beaver, and a range of smaller animals and birds.  Well, on one visit, I saw a moose—bigger than life.  By the time I pulled my camera up, he had sauntered off into the woods and disappeared.  They must be magical beasts, since he so fully disappeared among the trees in just seconds.  Oh well.

Probably the most iconic animal associated with Yellowstone National Park is the Buffalo.  More officially, buffalo are called bison—and I have shared a separate post about these magnificent creatures.  They are incredible.  I marvel at their strength and presence.

Of course, the buffalo know the park is their home and the tourists are merely visitors, so they stroll wherever they want, even along or even across the roads.  And they rarely hurry.

I especially liked when this guy strolled right to and then past the car.

Elk are also abundant at Yellowstone and in the open areas between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. They are beautiful and elegant as they meander along the roads and near the buildings.  It seems wrong to me that tourists crowd into the fields just to get a little closer to them.

Rocky Mountain Goats are in the area as well.  These young goats were playing along the highway en route to the park a couple days in a row.

On a drive around Yellowstone Lake, I spotted this creature.  I so wanted it to be a beaver or an otter, but no such luck.  My best guess is that it is muskrat.

Birds make their home at Yellowstone as well.  For me, the most impressive are the Swans.  On one visit, they were making a nest, but that was pretty far off.

Ravens, of course, are all over.

On one visit, I even saw a Robin, a Black-Billed Magpie, and some Canada Geese.

On my most recent visit, I had some nice views of a lone Coyote doing a bit of hunting out in a field.

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“Our task must be to free ourselves. . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”   Albert Einstein

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”   Anatole France

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”   Gandhi

“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man.  Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.”  Dalai Lama

“Lots of people talk to animals. . . , Not very many listen though. . . . That’s the problem.”  Benjamin Hoff

“Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.  And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.”  Milan Kundera

“I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.”  Gary Larson

“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of a whole human being.”   Abraham Lincoln

“The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of the human spirit.”   Ashley Montagu

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.”  John Muir

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures in not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them.  That’s the essence of inhumanity.”  George Bernard Shaw

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”   St. Francis of Assisi

“The animals of the planet are in desperate peril.  Without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen.”  Alice Walker

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”   Immanuel Kant

“The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous; it is indissolubly connected with the fate of men.”   Emile Zola

“Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”   Albert Schweitzer

“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help.  Only if we help, shall they be saved.”   Jane Godall  [And I would add:  Only if we save the animals and the natural world, can we save ourselves, our world, our souls.]

ONE FINAL NOTE:  I have always loved Nature and Animals and—thus—have always felt the need to protect them.  I am especially aghast for the last several years to what is happening to all aspects of the environment under the guise of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Here is a list of some actions underway as of last November; of course, more have been underway since then as well.  If you are concerned too, please share your concerns with your locally and nationally elected officials.  Vote this issue. All of the environment—including national parks and all animals—needs to be protected from short term economic gains for limited companies and industries.

Zion National Park

The first time I visited Zion National Park was an accident—and I saw virtually nothing.  I had been on a trip, visiting various places in the Southwest.  Towards the end of the trip, after visiting the Grand Canyon South Rim, I was ready to head home.  I decided that instead of just driving straight to my hotel room in Las Vegas, I would take a detour to the Grand Canyon North Rim for a short afternoon visit.

But the North Rim was gorgeous, and a storm was moving across the canyon from the South Rim.  How could I not stay longer to watch that unfold?  But that delay meant that I was en route to my Las Vegas hotel room about 10 pm rather than earlier in the day.  It was dark.  It was cloudy.  It was raining.  I was blindly following my AAA Triptik that said the next turn was to pick up Highway 9 en route to Interstate 15.

Highway 9 took me right through Zion National Park via the 1.1 mile tunnel at the east entrance.  In the pitch black of that night with no highway lights whatsoever, that tunnel felt about 10 miles long.  All I saw of the park was some red dirt and an occasional frog that jumped across the road.

purple flowerindian paint brushA couple years later I planned a real trip to Zion National Park.  The light spring rains helped the wildflowers pop up everywhere.  And back then, I was able to drive all throughout the park, stopping at the various overlooks and trailheads.

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Great White Throne

Great White Throne

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive runs north with stops at such vantage points as Court of the Patriarchs, The Grotto, Weeping Rock, and the Temple of the Sinawava. At some of these sites, visitors can hike along the Virgin River or sit on its banks to enjoy a picnic lunch.

River Walk by Temple of Sinawava

River Walk by Temple of Sinawava

Court of the Patriarchs

Court of the Patriarchs

The Sentinel

The Sentinel

Tunnel 1tunnel 3Highway 9, also called the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, took me east through the tunnel I had traversed before to the east entrance and the Checkerboard Mesa.  On this trip, I learned that the 1.1 mile tunnel on this route was opened in 1930.  It took 3 years to complete the project at the cost of almost $2,000,000.  Just imagine what it would cost today!

Checkerboard Mesa

Checkerboard Mesa

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Zion Virgin R 3Zion flowers 6A picnic by the Virgin River is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.  The flowers and butterflies are delightful. I could spend all day here!

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Zion Virgin R

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west temple and tower of virgins joint 2Zion flowers 4This Spring, I returned to Zion National Park.  It is still bold and dramatic.  The canyon runs for fifteen miles and reaches an elevation close to 9,000 feet.  The area cover 146,597 acres; that’s 229 square miles.  The Zion Mount Carmel Highway twists and turns back on itself as it runs east through the park showcasing the sheer cliffs, high plateaus, and intricate alcoves and arches.  The contrast of the deep green of the pinyon, pine, and juniper forests and occasional wildflowers against the red slopes is impressive.

Zion big vista

It is no wonder that the area was named a National Monument by President William Howard Taft in 1909.  The goal was to preserve the “brilliantly colored strata of unique composition” and “extraordinary examples of canyon erosion.” In 1919, the area was upgraded to a National Park and its name was changed from Mukuntuweap to Zion, under the stupid* idea at the time that non-native names would better promote visitors.  It is the Virgin River that has cut this marvelous canyon that is almost a half-mile deep.  No wonder John Wesley Powel declared in 1895, “All this is the music of waters.”

Zion & Kolob Canyons 004Zion & Kolob Canyons 007On this most recent trip, it was crowded. In 2011, more than 2.8 million visitors were recorded at the park.  The number has surely increased in three years.  During this visit, there was virtually no designated parking space left anywhere.  Because of this increase in visits, Zion National Park now limits where private cars can drive from April to October. A free shuttle takes visitors to the overlooks and trailheads along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

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Zion & Kolob Canyons 017Zion & Kolob Canyons 016This spring, I was able to ignore the crowds by staying a roadside naturalist.  I drove the Zion Mount Carmel Highway from the south to the east entrance, enjoying all the twists and turns of that route and the passage through the tunnel.

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Zion & Kolob Canyons 058Zion & Kolob Canyons 062Parking and some limited hiking was still possible at Checkerboard Mesa.  I figure my next trip will be sometime between November and April, so I can once again drive to all the great overlooks and pathways myself—and maybe avoid some crowds.

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buffalo 2buffalo groupOutside the park at the east entrance, my sister and I were pleasantly surprised to see a small herd of buffalo ambling along.  We were not quite so pleased to see signs for a local restaurant advertising buffalo steak and jerky on the menu. [I’m not a vegetarian, but I prefer to delude myself and see my meat only in supermarkets, not wandering in a field!]

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Zion & Kolob Canyons 076bull closeIn another field, a massive bull seemed to welcome any visitors who ventured near the fence.

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ZNP 4 the grand arch

En route back to our hotel, we drove back through the park to marvel once again at the massive red cliffs.

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Zion & Kolob Canyons 114If you have never visited this magnificent park, it is well worth the trip.  The cliffs and plateaus are substantial, ancient, vibrant, spiritual.  The landscape has been emerging for over 150 million years. Inhabitants started populating the area in small family groups roughly 8,000 years ago. Whenever I experience Zion National Park, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the grandeur of nature and am thus encouraged to reflect on my place in the universe and the spirituality that connects us all.  As Clarence E. Dutton expounds:  “There is an eloquence to these forms which stirs the imagination. . , and kindles in the mind a glowing response. . . . [It is hard to] exceed the wondrous beauty of Zion Valley.”   

Zion Temples

*Sorry.  The stupid label is mine.  Our government has done some stupid things over the years.  There is no denying that.  At least Zion National Park and other areas have been preserved.

Note:  Zion National Park has a second section called Kolob Canyons.  I will write about my visit there at a later time.

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“There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”  Mitch Albom

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”  Buddha

“A comely sight indeed it is to see a world of blossoms on an apple tree.”  John Bunyan

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”  John Calvin

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature.”  Joseph Campbell

“I thank God for most this amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural, which is infinite.”  e. e. cummings

“The magic begins in you.  Feel your own energy and realize similar energy exists within the Earth, stones, plants, water, wind, fire, colours, and animals.”  Scott Cunningham

“Everything in our world, even a drop of dew, is a microcosm of the universe.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nature is the art of God eternal.”  Dante

“The snow, the wind, the sun and the sounds of nature, can all be reminders to you that you’re an integral part of the natural world.”  Wayne Dyer

“A man is related to all nature.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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