Posts Tagged ‘buffalo’

Designated as a national monument in 1929 and not redesignated as a national park until November 10, 1978, the Badlands has one of the more interesting park names.  Once you’ve seen it, you can understand why the Lakota Sioux Indians called it Mako Sica, which has been translated as “land bad” and as “eroded land.”  French fur trappers called it  “les mauvaises terres a traverser” or  “bad lands to traverse.”  Of course, with modern roads, albeit winding ones, the trip is much easier, one anyone who has the chance should take.  But if you’re hiking, take lots of water, wear suntan lotion and a hat, and stay on the trails.

copyright janet m. webb

Yellow Mounds Overlook


When the last deer disappears into the morning mist,
When the last elk vanishes from the hills,
When the last buffalo falls on the plains,
I will hunt mice for I am a hunter and I must have my freedom.
~Chief Joseph, Nez Perce




When we visited Yellowstone last summer, I dreamed of what it must have been like to see a herd of bison families so large it stretched as far as the eye could see.  The families of the Indians depended on those of the bison and made use of every part of each animal killed.

Endless prairie spreads
Shaggy-haired bison content
Plains Indians’ life


If you have time, visit the Weekly Photo Challenge yourself and see the varied interpretations of “Family.”  You won’t be disappointed.  Thanks to my fellow photographers, and others, who visit this week. I’m still enjoying the beauty and warmth of Arizona and my limited internet availability and time means I won’t be able to reciprocate much.  I appreciate your visit and comments and look forward to getting back into the give-and-take next week.

Not long after we were surrounded by the buffalo crossing the road (Why do buffalo cross the road? Who knows and who’s brave enough to try to stop an animal as large as a Smart Car?), we came up on a herd in the meadows on either side of the road. Try to imagine the days when herds of buffalo stretched for miles on the plains. What an awesome sight that must have been, in the true sense of the word!



In the city, brake lights are generally a source of frustration and possibly road rage. In Yellowstone, brake lights mean one of two things: a traffic jam, probably due to construction, or animal sightings. All too often, they’re the former, but during this trip we were extremely lucky and only came to a few places where there was construction. An added bonus was not getting behind any RV’s, which make both seeing anything and passing them impossible. Choosing to visit on a Monday was a good choice.

After driving alongside Yellowstone Lake, a gigantic body of water, we came to our first string of vehicles and brake lights.  Glancing hopefully ahead, we saw buffalo on either side of the road, with a few emerging from a nearby lake.  We’d spotted a solitary buffalo (strictly speaking, a bison) earlier, but this was a group of thirty or forty and they were not only on either side, but crossing the road.

People were outside their vehicles, which stretched in both directions, as well as heading towards the main herd, while a park ranger tried to keep order and safely.  One of the leaflets handed out when you enter the park warns you to keep at least 100 yards away from animals, but people tend to ignore the suggestion.  We’ve seen people getting very close to have their pictures taken, not realizing that although the buffalo seem tame, they are wild animals that can run at speed and have gigantic heads complete with horns.  As the buffalo began moving in our direction, the ranger yelled at everyone to return to their vehicles, which they actually did.  The sight of an animal whose head is half the size of a large man can tend to have that effect.

The buffalo began to walk between vehicles and, as you can see from my pictures, they got rather close.  We could have put our hands out and touched more than one and there couldn’t have been more than an inch or two between a potential buffalo robe and the front of the van more than once.  It was as close as we could have gotten without going buffalo riding or giving one of the van seats to an animal.  Some of the males were making noises that were a cross between a pig and a cow, making them sound as if they were complaining about all the gawkers.