September / October 2020

My 2020 Western USA Trip

A photo journey of wildlife and landscapes from the American West

Buffalo at Custer State Park, South Dakota

From the original post: The Struggling Buffalo

“We were driving through the park and came upon a herd half on one side of the road and half on the other. It was my first time seeing them up close, if we reached out our hands from the truck we probably could have touched some of them! In any case, we noticed that one was rolling around on the ground, kicking up dust and grunting something fierce. We’re not sure if it was struggling to get up, just part of the process, or something more… self-gratifying… but it was amazing seeing the beast in action!”

Coyote at Custer State Park, South Dakota

This coyote passed across the road in front of us and was starting to make its way to harass – and hopefully eat – some prairie dogs. It turned toward us and gave us a few poses before traffic started coming behind us. I wonder if it got a bite to eat that evening…

Electric Peak at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

I had no choice but to channel my inner Ansel Adams and fail miserably. Still, every other turn in Yellowstone featured a fantastic view of some mountain or another and this view of Electric Peak did NOT disappoint.

Elk Harem at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Fall is the time rut season for Elk, so bulls come down from their typical near-solitary safe spots and mingle. Each bull will attempt to secure and keep a harem of cows for mating season, which can culminate in some impressive displays – including the famous “bugling”. It was quite the sight to see this harem right off the side of the road in Yellowstone. No other bull elks could be found (or heard) so safe to say this one was doing their job very well.

Hot Spring Trails at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

It was tough for me to take good shots of the hot springs themselves as the steam and angle of the pools was not so favorable. Luckily, the small streams and pools of bacteria create some wonderful colors along with patterns from the ground below. 

The Grand Tetons

“I have never been so close to mountains so massive as when I visited the Grand Tetons a couple of weeks ago. I had a hard time feeling like I could do this photo justice, given how absolutely majestic they were in real life. I was pretty amazed to learn that we were still MILES from the actual mountain when we pulled over to get this shot. We’d get closer later in the day (Lake Jenny) and I was just completely overwhelmed.⁠” – from Instagram

Wildlife at Lake Jenny

When we first arrived at Lake Jenny, it was packed with people and we couldn’t find a single place to park. It’s no surprise as we’d been told that Lake Jenny held some of the best views of the Grand Tetons but also has the benefit of being a recreational lake. We decided to come back much later in the day, just after the sun was hiding behind the mountains but hadn’t yet fallen below the horizon on the other side. After walking the rocky beach, we headed back to the car where we met the two animals shown above. We never would have seen them had parking been available during the day, which likely would have stopped us from visiting at these moments

Prairie Dogs at Custer State Park, South Dakota and Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming

To be filed under Cutest Animals from the trip, this collection of Prairie Dog portraits were among my favorite to shoot. One has to sit for a couple of minutes to “gain their trust”, but once they figure out you’re not a threat, they pretty much go along their day with mixed indifference / mild curiosity to what you’re doing.

Devils Tower

Devils Tower is the one place we visited that had cultural and spiritual significance to it. I would highly suggest reading some of the indigenous stories surrounding this monument and the beliefs surrounding it. Up close it truly is a wonder to see.

First Stories – Devils Tower National Monument –

As of 11/26/2021, this collection is incomplete. Please check back soon for more images from the trip. Thanks so much for viewing my work and seeing the journey from my perspective and my eyes.

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