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Yellowstone Spring 2015 Trip Report, Days 39 & 40 (June 18 & 19… The End!)

Day 39, June 18
Perhaps one of the quietest day of the trip in the park, as we found very little to photograph.  We did spy some elusive critters during the morning drive south to Hayden Valley, including a weasel in the pre-dawn darkness south of Sheepeater and two snowshoe hares.  Not surprisingly, there was no time to even lift a camera, much less fire a shot.

At Lake Butte Overlook we did see one of the owlets at the nest, the first time they’d been seen in a few days (there had been speculation they’d fledged and disappeared).  The adult was nowhere to be found again.  Perhaps with growing chicks, it needs to spend a lot more time hunting.

We decided to keep heading out the east entrance, all the way to Cody.  Wild horses?  Why not…  Thanks to some advice from horse guru Sandy Sisti, we were able to track down over ninety of the horses, by far the most I’ve seen at one time out there.  There wasn’t a whole lot of activity, but it was still quite a spectacle and more than made up for the quiet morning.

Day 40, June 19
Wild horses duelingWe awoke before dawn for the final time this week and went back out to see if we’d have any luck with the horses.  We found most of the herd (around 60-70 this time) in transit.  Unfortunately, they weren’t on the way to a watering hole, which seems to be a hot spot for heightened activity.  Instead, they were simply grazing while moving at a slow pace.  We waited for the action to pick up.  And waited, because they stopped and slept.  And slept some more.

We were about to leave when a few bouts sparked up.  Given how tightly packed the horses were, this made photographing “clean” action very difficult.  Nearly every fight or chase scene was filled with the bodies of passers-by or spectators.  So while it was relieving and fun to witness this type of activity after a long wait, coming up with good photos was challenging.

That was the highlight of the day, as Yellowstone was very quiet when we drove back through in the afternoon.  We returned to Gardiner early to rest and to at least begin to think about packing.


This marks the end of my fourth successive tour, as well as the end of my longest Yellowstone adventure to date.  I’d like to thank my clients this week: Cathy, Lexi, Michelle, Phil and Rob.  Such a lovely family and great fun to guide during their first-ever Yellowstone visit.

Big thanks again to all of my clients over the past four weeks, to Judy at the Yellowstone Super 8 in Gardiner, Cheryl at the Stop the Car Trading Post in Silver Gate, to my past clients that I had the pleasure of seeing again, and to the many friends (old and new) who make these visits that much better every time I come out.  Finally, thanks to Jenn, who’s been willing to accept very short phone calls and emails each night before I drop off to sleep as I worked my way through these tours over the last month.

Stay tuned for more follow-ups from this trip, as well as much more discussion about the blog itself, the new website and other news.  Thanks for following my adventures!


  1. Doug Schurman June 23, 2015 Reply

    Nice report. Any tips on lake butte overlook owls nest? Is it around the parking area? And is it on the up hill or downhill side of the road? I saw 2 dusky grouse up there Sunday


    • Author
      Max June 23, 2015 Reply

      Doug, look for the owls about 90% of the way up the drive. As the road comes around the final left curve (before it curves back to the right to the parking lot), look out at the trees to your left. The thickest tree in the area has a broken-off top, which is charred. This is approximately at eye level. The nest is inside the top, so if they’re inside you can’t see them, but at this stage you should expect to see the owlets perched on the branches outside quite a bit (if they’re still there). And of course, keep an eye out for Raspberry and her two cubs!

  2. Doug Schurman June 30, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the quick reply. I found the nest easily with your description. No sign of any owls.

    Also, I did get to see Raspberry and her cubs. Very cool.

    • Author
      Max June 30, 2015 Reply

      Cool, I’m glad the trip was worth it. I heard about Raspberry’s emergence the day I left. Bad timing on her part!

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