One thing missing from our four-day Yellowstone/Grand Teton visit has been a bear sighting…missing that is until we were a half mile from the exit of Grand Teton National Park today. Lo and behold, we sighted a grizzly lumbering through the high grass and it was our last chance. We were leaving the park for Rawlins on our way to Denver.
We were the third vehicle to stop and we immediately sense the excitement. Bear sightings are among the rarest in Yellowstone and in the Tetons.
The crowd quickly grew to a dozen vehicles, including two park rangers. I got some so-so shots as the bear moved steadily through the woods. The photo op vanished as quickly as it appeared so we doubled back and followed the bear’s path.
As luck would have it, he moved toward the road. At one point, he was within 75 feet of me. The parks advise keeping a minimum distance of 300 feet from bears, 75 feet for other animals. Odd that neither of the two rangers close to me offered an admonishment….nor did they move away.
I was aware of my daring proximity and was hoping the door of the vehicle closest to me was unlocked should the bear move closer. If not, I was fully prepared to jump on the vehicle’s roof (a Suburban). The bear checked out me and the growing crowd, but didn’t seem too interested. In fact, he seemed purposefully disinterested. My wife said later she was concerned that I was too close and that I’d be in trouble if the bear charged.
Then the bear crossed the road, moving away from the crowd. One ranger asked the other if the bear had any tags. He didn’t, apparently. The ranger commented that the bear appeared “all fattened up” which I presumed to mean for the winter hiberation.
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