Appropriately dubbed the,  “Serengeti of North America,” Lamar Valley is truly a special place. It’s most notably known for the Bison, which are roaming like the salmon of Capistrano, but it’s also home to wolves, grizzly bears and many other wildlife species.
         Knowing there won’t be too many people on the road at this time and with another long drive ahead, I decide to treat myself to a little road beer (sue me). This specially made Yellowstone beer, produced by the badass Rogue Brewing, who donates a portion of their proceeds to the park, in support of their ongoing conservation.
        Not even a mile since reaching the valley, I see a car pulled off to the side of the road and notice a guy taking pictures. Let’s hope it’s not just another mule deer , I thought as I approached. I park, get out of my car, and see a male bison who’s looking right at us, off in the not-so-far distance.
        Like many people, one of my favorite things about the great outdoors is seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. Although I’ve seen hundreds of bison prior, this first bull really has my blood flowing. That also could be attributed to this big boy who is seemingly looking at me directly in the eyes with his foot up in a charging stance. Lot’s to see with little daylight remaining - time to get moving!
          I spend the next hour or so riving through the valley, surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of bison. I made multiple pull-offs and in typical Yellowstone fashion, they came up right to the car, which allowed me to (safely) shoot out of my window.

FUN FACT: Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times and the park’s efforts are widely considered as one of the greatest examples of wildlife conservation in American history. In 1902, after years of poaching and hunting, the herd was down to only a few dozen but thanks to the hard work and dedication from the National Park Service, the herd is now over 5,000 strong.  
      "Wow, that was awesome," I thought to myself as I turn around and make my way back to the Mammoth entrance. The sun has set at this point and it’s getting dark fast, so I need to figure out a spot to camp for the night. After pulling into some random group sites and to no surprise seeing they’re full, I elect to head just outside the park to the town of Gartner. With no plan, I leave the park and begin my search to find a secluded spot where I can park my jeep and get some shut eye.
        Before leaving the outskirts of town, I want to check out another big attraction of Yellowstone - The Roosevelt Arch. It wasn’t something on my “must-see” list but it’s right by the entrance and since Teddy Roosevelt is the closest thing to a hero of mine, I figure I should pay my respects. I get out of my car, look-upon the massive arch and am struck by yet another crazy sky.  Roosevelt laid the cornerstone himself in 1903 and built it with the purpose of giving the park a suitable grandeur it deserved. Well done Teddy.
          I stay for only a few minutes and make my way just outside of town. I come to a road which looks to wind up a big hill towards a national forest area, so I pull off the main road and start heading in that direction. After passing multiple ‘grizzly bear warning’ signs I feel myself dozing off, so I decide to park at a somewhat secluded spot just off the road. There are a few stars in the sky and I want nothing more to shoot the Milky Way on this trip, but after a few attempts, I quickly realize that it’s not going to be possible with all the haze, so I decide to call it quits and set up my jeep hotel.  
         As I’m laying on my sleeping pad and gazing through the moonroof, I start to reflect on the day, specifically the last few hours. An epic wildlife experience, followed by searching for a place to camp in the pitch black, before heading into the backcountry the next day; it’s a weirdly similar situation to how I ended the day in Glacier, only a few days prior. I guess that’s just how I roll!
         Tomorrow will be the second time that I embark on a solo backpacking trek and I couldn’t be more excited. While I’ll be looking at sites in the Canyon or Lake area, I’m ready to take on whatever gets thrown at me.
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