Xmas Road Trip, Day 8 – Montana

Today was all about bears and wolves. Many weeks ago when researching our road trip we saw there was a Grizzly and Bear park just over the Idaho border (in Montana) at West Yellowstone. As the name suggests, it’s on the western side of Yellowstone Park and serves as the gateway to the park from that side. It was about an hour and 3\4 drive from where we staying in Idaho Falls, and as the park opened at 8:30am, we got an early start to make a day of it. There had been snow overnight as part of the storm that’s coming down from the north, so the fields on either side of the road were a sea of white with black dots where the cows were being fed hay.

After about an hour of driving we entered a large forest of pine trees on either side of the road, and with the snow overnight it looked magical. Soon we knew we were getting close to the border of Montana, our 5th state on our road trip. White swans dotted to waterways that weren’t frozen though they were the only wildlife we saw apart from a few hawks looking for the odd meal.

We arrived in West Yellowstone and were greeted with a huge amount of snow along the side of the road. The snow plows must have been pushing it for weeks to accumulate so much – easily 6 feet of snow on either side. The roads were still covered in snow so the driving was slippery.

At the Discovery Center we were lucky just about have it to ourselves apart from a handful of other people willing to brave the cold. Even though it was only -3, the wind made it feel about -10. Luckily they had warming houses along the self-guided path so we could duck in there for a few minutes and enjoy the pellet fireplace for some warmth. The park has about 12 grizzly bears and rotates them throughout the day in order to feed them and stop them from hibernating. The park is open 365 days and as they feed the bears, they’ve learnt not to hibernate as they have a readily available food supply. All the bears in the park have had to be relocated as they’ve shown an interest in human food i.e. they’ve become too good at raiding bins and peoples houses and had to be removed. They’ll never go back out in the wild. Likewise with the wolves – they’ve all suffered some sort of incursion during their life and now call the park home.

After the park we stopped in the town center for some souvenirs (of course!) and also for lunch at the Slippery Otter Pub. Then it was the drive home back to Idaho Falls for a relaxing afternoon (or an hour in the gym for me!).

 

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