Winter in Yellowstone National Park

Bearly Awake

A young bear emerges from hibernation for a winter romp

I figured it to be common wisdom that black bears entered winter hibernation and slept soundly until warm weather. However, during our late January-early February trip to Yellowstone National Park, we found a bear den with occupants active in the sunny but single-digit weather. During our visit, our daily routine consisted of cruising up and down the Lamar Valley looking for wildlife activity. This bear scene was certainly easy to spot, considering the many other photographers with lenses already pointed to the den, so we located a parking place (they are at a premium along the icy roadway) and joined the crowd of onlookers. We came by on two occasions in the afternoon when the yearling members of the bear family were outside. I did not see mother bear emerge, she just watched from the den entrance. There were some excellent images to be had of the bear antics, but getting one of the best shots required a good viewing spot among the elbow-to-elbow photographers lined along the ridge above the den.

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