Tag Archive | pronghorn

West 2016: Badlands NP Wildlife

Day 4: August 8, 2016

Do you have any idea how long I have been trying to get a decent photo of Bighorn Sheep?  I was thwarted in Colorado at Colorado National Monument, got the faintest glimpse of them at dusk on the drive to Great Sand Dunes National Park, got blurry pics of them at Pikes Peak, and then missed them again at Joshua Tree

But Badlands National Park did not disappoint!  We saw Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep for the first time that day at the Burns Basin Overlook.  There were three of them.  Two were resting on the rocks, and one was walking unhurriedly.  My mom didn’t get out of the car at first, so I had to go back and drag her out to make sure she got to see them too.  Of course, I did make sure to get some photos first.  I was so excited!

Bighorn Sheep at Burns Basin Overlook

I spotted some pretty little songbirds, but couldn’t really tell what kind they were because they were silhouetted against the blue sky.

They might be Mountain Bluebirds, but I couldn’t tell for sure…

We decided to drive down the Sage Creek Rim Road, a gravel road that is supposed to be where the bison and the bighorn sheep often hang out.  There is also a prairie dog town a few miles down the road.  We didn’t see any bison that day, but we were not disappointed because we had already done some fabulous spotting at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and Yellowstone National Park was still coming up later in the trip!  Soon we happened upon a huge herd of animals grazing in the field in the distance.  At first glance, we both thought they were deer, but after watching them for a few minutes, I figured out that they were bighorn sheep!  We took some photos and continued on, because they were pretty far away.

Soon we came upon a bunch of sheep hanging out right by the road, and often, in the road!  There were a lot of babies too!  I had so much fun just watching them and taking photos.  They were stunning and so close!  They weren’t bothered by us at all.

Baby Bighorn Sheep!

Not even this guy, who was too lazy to even stand up all the way to re-position himself for better grass!

This guy… I have no words…

It was tough to pull away from the bighorns, but we headed the rest of the way to the prairie dog town.  These prairie dogs didn’t want to pose as nicely for us though…  I did get a nice shot of a Western Meadowlark though!

Prairie Dog! He was on a mission…

 

Western Meadowlark at Badlands

We did so much wildlife spotting that it was starting to get late, and we wanted to grab some dinner.  We returned the way we came, stopping for some more photos of the bighorn sheep, before heading out of the park.  Just outside, we found a lone pronghorn posing beautifully, so I got some photos of him too!

 

Is this not the cutest trio of butts ever!

 

A stately Pronghorn, just outside of the park

It was a great day for wildlife!

 

SW National Parks Trip: Williams and a Drive

After our visit to the Grand Canyon, we spent another night in Williams, Arizona.  We got up early the next morning, because we had a long drive ahead of us.  The day had come to make our way back to California for Jon’s cousin’s wedding.  Marina del Ray, to be exact.  Jon was concerned that if we didn’t get an early start, we would end up in Los Angeles during rush hour traffic.  And if you have read this blog for long, you know that Jon and traffic don’t mix well.

I hadn’t had a chance to see much of Williams though, except for a quick drive by the night before.  So I convinced Jon that I would get out of the hotel a little earlier than he wanted, if we could drive downtown and I could have 20 minutes to wander around and take photos.  We struck a deal.  If we were out of the hotel by 6:30, I could have the 20 minutes while Jon filled the car with gas and drove by the coffee stand to get us a little perk-up.

The Gateway to Williams, Arizona

The Gateway to Williams, Arizona

Williams was founded in 1881, and currently has a population of about 3,000 residents.  Williams was located on Route 66, and contains the last section of Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40, in 1984.  Of course, I-40 passes right outside of town, so it didn’t have a huge impact on the economy.

Williams, Arizona and Route 66 – I love the Turquoise Tepee!

Williams, Arizona and Route 66 – I love the Turquoise Tepee!

The historic downtown core is 6 blocks long, and has several souvenir shops, restaurants, a wine tasting room and a historic hotel.  There are lots of Route 66 signs, and several historic neon signs from days gone by.  It is wonderfully maintained, and was a treat to spend a few moments wandering around with my camera in the still of the early morning.  I would love to go back and spend more time there.

Williams, Arizona Storefronts

Williams, Arizona Storefronts

Smokey the Bear has a presence in Williams, Arizona

Smokey the Bear has a presence in Williams, Arizona

The Grand Canyon Winery – I would have liked to check it out!

The Grand Canyon Winery – I would have liked to check it out!

Jon came back to get me after his errands, and we headed west on our way back to California.  The drive was long (more than 6 hours), but most of it was very easy, with very light traffic.  It was bittersweet as well, because we knew that although we were heading towards family and a fun occasion, it also meant the end of a fantastic, whirlwind tour of some really amazing parks.  I did finally get to see some pronghorn though!  There were a couple walking in a field near the road.  The picture isn’t fantastic at all – it is hard to take pictures of wildlife when you are driving by at 70+ miles per hour!  But I think you can tell that they are pronghorn.

Pronghorn! You can tell they are pronghorn, right?

Pronghorn! You can tell they are pronghorn, right?

The only hiccup was when our GPS unit finally pooped out and would navigate no more.  As we were heading into Los Angeles, we knew we would need some directions.  My Dad was kind enough to map our route and read it to me over the phone as we cruised through the Mojave Desert.

After hours of driving, and some traffic backups at the end, we finally pulled into the ritzy Marriott in Marina del Rey.  Valet parking only…  I don’t know what they thought of us…  We hadn’t showered, we were wearing hats and dusty hiking shoes, driving a subcompact car with dust everywhere and clumps of red clay mud clinging to the mudflaps and the undercarriage.  A memorable moment for sure!

Our vacation was winding down – but not before spending time with lots of family!