Category Archives: Wildlife

Prairie Dogs Playing in Bryce Canyon National Park

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We were surprised to learn there are prairie dogs in Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah.  This video shows two prairie dogs playing on a mound, with a slow-motion recap.

Moose Enjoying a Meal in an Alaskan Pond

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This moose was enjoying a meal in a pond in Chena River Recreation Area, Alaska.  Notice the swarm of mosquitoes that fly off the moose when he dives under water.

Bald Eagles at Anchor Point, Alaska

Bald eagle

Anchor Point is a small community on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.  It’s famous for its flocks of majestic bald eagles.

  

  

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Top 25 Wildlife Sightings on our Trip

Sea lions, gators and bears, oh my…

We were blessed on our trip to see just about every major species of wildlife that one could hope to see while traveling in the western USA, Canada and Alaska.  Seeing and hearing wildlife in its element was a highlight of our trip.  Following are the Top 25 favorite wildlife sightings on our 10-month trip, our favorite sighting for each species.

    

1. Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bear standing upright in Denali National Park

Denali National Park, Alaska

The most exciting wildlife encounter was when a grizzly bear in Denali stood up, spotted a couple of backpackers, and took off after them.  I started snapping photos and shooting video from the safety of our bus, but I was worried that I might be making a snuff film.  Fortunately the young couple hopped on the bus in front of us before the bear could eat them.  We saw a total of 8 grizzlies on our trip, all in Denali National Park.

  

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Desert Tortoise Munching in Joshua Tree National Park

This desert tortoise captured our attention for quite a while in Joshua Tree National Park.  He was a magnificent creature.  His shell was over a foot in diameter.  He slowly ate his away along the desert floor, munching so loudly that we could clearly hear him chewing from where we stood several feet away.  He seemed blissfully happy and unaware of the world around him, sort of like how we are when we are hiking these national parks and disconnected from the real world.  This little fellow was such a draw that a weary camper carrying a full pack hiked two miles back to this spot when another hiker told him about the tortoise.

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Alligators in Texas? Who Knew?

We may not have believed it if we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes.  Brazos Bend State Park in Texas has the greatest concentration of alligators in the United States outside of the Everglades.  There are an estimated 300 adult alligators in the park, and we saw a total of 120 adult and child gators on our 7-mile hike along Elm and 40-Acre Lakes.

 

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Interestingly, the dogs never really noticed the alligators, even when the gators were only 10 feet away sunning themselves on a riverbank.  Perhaps it’s because the alligators weren’t moving and/or because they don’t smell much.  In this video, an alligator is floating away in the creek.

  

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Brazos Bend is also a haven for aquatic birds such as the American Coot.  These pretty black birds have the unusual ability to run across the surface of the lake as shown in this video.  The mechanical sound you hear in the video is a nearby diesel pump that was transferring water from one lake to another.

Wolves Howling at Northern Lights Wolf Centre

The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre near Golden, British Columbia, is home to nine wolves that have never been in the wild and serve as “ambassadors for their wild cousins.”  The Centre’s mission is to “promote wolf and bear conservation throughout the natural environment.”  Theresa and I spent a few hours at the center in May 2012.  This was the first time either of us had seen a wolf up close.

Just a few days earlier, while dispersed camping outside Kootenay National Park, we were delighted to hear a wolf howling in the forest very close nearby.  It was a long, morose howl that lasted over 20 minutes. 

We asked one of the experts at the Wolf Centre about the howling.  The woman asked us to repeat what we heard.  She listened thoughtfully to our imitation wolf howl.  Then she told us we probably heard a “grandma wolf” who remained home in the den with the wolf pups while the parents were out hunting.

Perhaps the wolves were responding to our howl, or maybe it was just a coincidence, but the wolves at the Centre started howling themselves.  It was such an amazing sound that it brought tears to our eyes.

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Private Waterfall View

Wapta Falls and Yoho National Park

One of our most amazing dispersed camping spots on our trip was just outside Yoho National Park in British Columbia.  We camped for three days at the Wapta Falls Rec Site, which had two private campsites separated by about 100 feet of forest.  Our campsite had a spectacular, unobstructed view of Wapta Falls, which was only 1/3 mile away and roared loudly.  Behind the falls rose two 10,000+ foot glacier-covered mountains.

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Cute But Armed and Dangerous!

I’ve always wanted to see a porcupine in the wild.  As luck would have it, we saw 2 porcupines on the same night foraging along the road in Stone Mountain Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada.  This fascinating creature has one of the best adaptations of any animal.  Its barbed quills easily detach, piercing any predator who dares to touch it.  Contrary to common folklore, porcupines can not shoot its quills at an enemy.  However, the porcupine will abruptly swing it’s backside toward a pursuer in an attempt to lodge the barbed quills in the predator’s face.

I may be a cute porcupine but I'm armed!

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Please Don’t Feed the Bears

This trip is truly an adventure.  An adventure filled with learning and new experiences with each passing day.

This morning while dispersed camping in a remote forest near Yoho National Park in British Colombia, Canada, Timm awoke when he heard what sounded like someone knocking on the side of the RV.  He opened the shades to look out but no one was there.  “I think I hear someone walking around,” he said.  Then, we both felt the RV shake as if someone was pushing on it.  Banging on the window with the palm of his hand, Timm shouted, “It’s a black bear!  He’s biting our tow bar!”  Looking out the window, I could see the bear at the back of the RV, so I pounded on the window and shouted, “Go away, Bear!”  The bear looked up at us and then quickly scampered into the woods.  We watched him as he made his way through the forest, back to the safety of its dark green and lush interior.

Tow bar cover with bear slobber and 4 tooth marks

After giving the bear some time to get farther away from our RV, we went outside to see what–if any–damage the bear had done.  To our surprise, there was bear slobber and 4 small teeth marks through the vinyl cover that protects our tow bar when it’s not in use.  Apparently, the curious bear put the tow bar in his mouth to test if it was edible. 

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