Yellowstone Pronghorn, Found in the Park’s North, Watch You Back

Pronghorn jumps

Pronghorn passes us on Specimen Ridge

You can only see pronghorn antelope in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park. That seems to be true with a lot of animals in the park, but it’s officially true with the pronghorn. In my trip I didn’t see any big herds, but got to meet a few charismatic individuals and see some small family groups once we were near Roosevelt.

What was striking about the animals was that they watched us with their huge dark eyes and even approached us. (A sign somebody may have fed them, perhaps?) We ran into one on Specimen Ridge. She kept walking down the trail towards us, eyes making contact all  the time. We chatted to her. She eventually veered to the side, but was comfortable close by. All the pronghorns we saw were engaged in the encounter, but not overly scared.

Friendly Pronghorn

Both sexes have horns, but only the boys’ horns sprout prongs or points. They’re native and endemic to the west (they’re from here and only here). They’re the only animal in the world to shed their horns each year, the National Parks Service says.

The most unfortunate thing about the pronghorn antelope another opportunity to tell you that you’ve gotten an animal’s name wrong. Just like the American buffalo isn’t really a buffalo, the pronghorn isn’t really an antelope under the current taxonomic regime, which requires antelopes have antlers that don’t shed.

The more serious problem is that the

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Yellowstone: How to See Bears

3 grizzlies

Grizzly family walks

“Where can I find a bear?” is supposedly the most common question asked of Yellowstone rangers. For decades this has been bear central. Back in the day, rangers set out garbage on bear-viewing stages. Now all food waste is sealed in steel and rangers would like to keep people far from bears–while paradoxically allowing us to enjoy the park.

The rangers want to keep people from bears not because humans are bears’ favorite snack. It’s more that bears make crowds of people do stupid things. In just a few shoulder season days I saw plenty cars stopped in the road and more than a few people chasing a grizzly down the road by foot and car. All the advice about bear spray and staying back 100 yards is forgotten when a handsome bear lumbers by.

Yellowstone has two bear species. Black bears are smaller, more docile and often have a lighter muzzle. And they’re usually black, but can come in rust to brown. Grizzlies (also called brown bears) are huge, more aggressive and have a big shoulder hump and superlong claws. So naturally, that’s the one Americans want to see. You can see black bears anywhere–or at least in 40 states, the Bear Center says. Yellowstone is one of a handful of pockets of grizzlies left in the lower 48–with the rest up on the remote Canadian border, the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project shows.

Grizzly Grins

Bears hardly ever attack people. (Though, while we

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A Guide To Yellowstone Guides

To animal tourists, Yellowstone National Park is Mecca, with a Broadway show that also somehow includes the the U.S. Capitol. You have to go once; it’s spectacular, important, historical. But most Americans don’t ever get to go. If you do go, chances are you can’t stay as long as you’d like. So, even though it’s a wildlife wonderland, you may want to hire a guide so you don’t miss out.

Normally focuses on seeing animals close to where people live in cities and suburbs. Anybody can tell you there are a lot of bears in Alaska or Wyoming. (And too many guide books give that kind of impractical and expensive advice.) But since my husband and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone, I’m checking out all the options there and assembling a guide to the guides.

These guides are expensive. But these are the people that know Yellowstone wildlife intimately, professionally and may be able to save you from an afternoon hoping for a bear jam. If you’re only traveling with a couple people, the science centers seem ideal. The private tours are generally priced for groups of four to six, making them two to three times more expensive for couples.  I’m sure this chart will grow and I’d like to focus on each in depth.

Check out the chart of Yellowstone Guides

To see more animals go to

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