Dominion of New York

Sanity Breaks

October 1, 2012

5 Reasons You Should Go to Yellowstone

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Written by: Michael Starkey

4. Wild Animals


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Wild animal sightings in Yellowstone generate rubbernecking and lead visitors to stop their cars in the middle of the road or along shoulders to catch a glimpse. Nature photographers set up top-of-the-line tripods, cameras, lenses and scopes, turning the sightings into social events.

In our first few minutes in the park, as we were driving through the southeast corner, we spotted such a gathering and stopped to see the cause of the commotion. Two elks were about 100 feet from the road. To see the park’s other famed large wild mammals, we drove to its valleys.

The best place for viewing wildlife is Lamar Valley in the northeast corner of the park. We spotted several pronghorn deer — antelope with short horns and white underbellies — 200 to 300 yards off the road. Then we ran into several herds of buffalo who were either crossing the road or laying within 100 feet of it. On our way back, we saw what we believe is an coyote, an animal that rarely appears, standing about twenty yards from the road.

Hayden Valley is the second best place in the park to spot wildlife, especially buffaloes. Generally, they are still — standing, lying, or inching along during a stroll. But we had the good fortune to see them running and swimming one day, as several queued up to cross a stream. The males are massive. With shoulders six feet off the ground, and weighing up to a ton, they are the size of a small car on stilts.


About the Author

Michael Starkey
Michael Starkey
Michael Starkey is an engineer 9-5, but in his spare time he writes about music and cultural history. His work includes "'Mercy, Mercy Me, The Ecology': Environmental Themes in Black Music" and "Hidden from Sight: African Americans and the Wilderness", presented at the annual conference of American Society of Environmental History, in 2006 and 2007 respectively. He is currently working on a book based on his master's thesis, "Wilderness, Race, and African Americans: An Environmental History from Slavery to Jim Crow." Michael lives and work in New York, NY. He currently resides in East Harlem with his wife and splits his work time between offices in Queens and Manhattan. He enjoys bicycling, listening to music, and playing soccer.


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, left to right. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Azipaybarah