Our vacation wildlife experience started out big. On our first day, we drove straight from the Kalispell, MT airport to Glacier National Park to do the short, popular Avalanche Lake hike. We saw three black bears.

Mother and two cubs. (One is hiding.)

After that, we carried bear spray all the time, and Marcy wore a bell to make a cheerful jingly sound. We saw a few more black bear during our trip, but never grizzlies. Others said they saw grizzlies. (Or thought they did.) Maybe the bells worked.

Also at Glacier, we saw bighorn sheep on the High Line and Ptarmigan Tunnel trails. In this picture they’re in a meadow, but we also saw them quickly running and jumping along dizzying cliffs.

Bighorn sheep (females and young)

This is my favorite Glacier animal picture. I was photographing Marcy near Hidden Lake when she starting pointing behind me and saying “goat!” This very friendly mountain goat walked right up to and past us.

…so we named him “Casper”.

Yellowstone is full of bison. My attitude quickly went from “look, an exotic animal! I must take many pictures!” to “I wish those idiot tourists would stop taking bison pictures and move their cars.” Bison are dangerous if provoked, but most of the time they stand around looking formidable and ignoring people.

Innocent bison-der

YNP also features a lot of elk. Here’s one by a residence in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.

Not a lawn ornament

These are mule deer, drinking from Yellowstone’s sulfur-smelling Firehole River. Probably a lot of other unhealthy minerals there too.

Guys, I wouldn’t do that.

This picture shows a hoary marmot, taken near Yellowstone’s Natural Bridge. It looks a lot like our eastern groundhogs, so feel free to be unimpressed if you want.

Do you like me?

When hiking Yellowstone’s Hellroaring trail, I photographed this flightless bird. The next day, we visited a nature center with a large bird display, so I asked the ranger what we had seen. He happily informed me that it was a ruffed grouse.

Isn’t that interesting?

However, he was much more impressed with my next photo of a salamander. Yellowstone has few reptiles and amphibians, and he had never seen a salamander in seven years of service. He asked me to fill out a “rare species sighting” form.

Doing my civic duty

Atop Yellowstone’s Mount Washburn, the chipmunks are brazen beggars. Start eating your lunch and you’re sure to see a few of them. And don’t leave your backpack unattended if it has food.

Please feed me. Come on, please? I’m cute.

I don’t take a lot of pictures of insects, but I thought this swarm of ladybugs, combined with snow, made an interesting shot. In the Grand Targhee ski area near Grand Teton NP. I’ve seen this before at high altitudes, but in warmer weather.

Hope they’ll be okay.

The last picture is a moose on GTNP’s Cascade Canyon trail. Obstructed, but it’s the best I could do.

Trust me, it’s a moose.

We saw more than these, but either missed the pictures or they didn’t come out. So you don’t get to see the owl or the coyote.

I’m happy with this set. I’ll be writing more soon about some of the hikes.