Right next to the campground where we stayed was a large clearing named "Moose Meadows." Twice daily - morning and evening - we'd pass right by. Every time, Roger insisted on stopping to look for wildlife. A name like "Moose Meadows" practically guaranteed a moose sighting, right?
|See any wildlife?|
Our first couple of days in the park, our only wildlife encounters were with dozens of chipmunks. Roger kept looking for moose and elk, but there were none to be found. Then, we went into the town of Banff. Up on a high bank above the main road we spotted a small herd of elk. We'd been looking in the wrong places. Instead of roaming the forests of the park, the elk were all hanging out in town!
|Our first bear sighting!|
The morning we drove the Icefields Parkway, my hubby and I rose early to get a jump on the tourist crowd. After our usual morning wildlife check at Moose Meadows, we headed down an empty park road. Noticing a couple of cars pulled over up ahead, Roger slowed down as we passed by. Turns out a bear was foraging in some bushes right next to the shoulder. We stopped immediatly. The bear was on my side of the car, not more than 20 feet away. Excited, Roger rolled down my window, urging me to "take a picture!"
Okay - there was a bear very close by and my window was open! I stammered "What are you doing? There's a b-b-bear out there!" Quickly slapping on my longest lens, I stuck it out the window and fired off a few quick shots before Mr. Yogi, not wanting to be a paparazzi subject, abruptly ended his breakfast and lumbered into the forest.
|Our second bear sighting about an hour later|
Wow - a real life bear sighting! Roger and I were jazzed. Then, not an hour later, stopped at one of the many overlooks, I spotted another bear. It was a small black bear, hanging out in a flower field. Just like the first one, this guy took one look at me and my long camera lens, and hightailed it out of there.
|An overly friendly chipmunk|
Although those turned out to be the only two bears we'd see, it was still plenty exciting. Of course, the most up-close and personal wildlife encounter was when Roger was the victim of an ambitious chipmunk. (If you missed that post, click on the hyperlink)
|Animal crossing bridge|
Driving the main highway to and from the town of Banff, Roger and I noticed an unusual overpass. It's upper surface was thickly landscaped with plants and trees. Upon closer inspection, we realized this was an animal crossing. A tall chain-link fence paralleled the highway on both sides, keeping animals off the road, and directing them to their special bridge. Collisions with elk and moose must've been a huge problem for the local government to finance such an elaborate structure.
We never saw any elk in the park until our very last day. Packed up, and driving towards the south exit, we came upon a huge herd nonchalantly crossing the road. They had traffic at a standstill.
|These elk wanted a bus ride|
Lots of folks had gotten out of their vehicles, cameras in hand. Since these elk had large horns, I opted to get my shots through the car window.
|This big elk stopped traffic|
The elk even had a tour bus stopped in it's tracks. I got a kick out of the passengers lined up next to the driver, clicking away with their cameras. This was one of my favorite animal photos from our trip.
|Mama and baby mountain sheep|
Continuing on with our journey south, we followed the Kananaskis River into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It was beautiful country, with more tall snow-capped mountains, sparkling clear streams, and lush green forests.
|Shaggy mountain sheep|
It was here my hubby and I ran into a large herd of mountain sheep. They were standing next to a campground entrance, nibbling away at the grass, paying no attention to the small cluster of people they were attracting. There were several baby sheep in the herd, keeping their mothers close by. With their small, fuzzy ears, and large dark eyes, these little guys stole the show.
|This one stuck his tongue out at me|
While clicking away, I inadvertently captured a sheep sticking his tongue out. (Or maybe it was intentional on the sheep's part?)
|What you looking at?|
We drove a little further down the highway and came upon some more sheep. These guys were all males, and had long, curved horns. Those horns looked like they could do some damage. I stayed inside the car for all my photos. Thank goodness for zoom lenses!
On our last morning in the park, we made one final stop to our now-familiar hangout, Moose Meadows. Roger really, really hoped this would be the day he'd spot the elusive moose. But, alas, it was not to be. The entire week we'd never seen a slight sign of any wildlife in this meadow. Driving away for the last time, Roger remarked that this place should be renamed "Moose-LESS Meadows." And from then on, that's what he and I called it.
This is the last of my Banff National Park posts. I hope you enjoyed them. I've got more photos of Glacier National Park (which we passed through on our way home). If there's another blogging lull, I'll share those.
Sharing with: Saturday's Critters