Thursday, May 30, 2013

Caught in a Bison Stampede in Salt Lake City, UT

Ever since I read Buffalo Brenda as a kid, bison have always intrigued me. I seriously considered (as all 9 year olds do) adopting a bison to raise as my school's mascot just like the characters in the book. After all, Ralphie is one of the most recognizable mascots of all time. Graceful giants like elephants and bison have always peaked my interest, because their quiet and unassuming demeanor is a stark contrast to their size. My obsession with elephants even triggered me to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee one spring break. As for bison, the closest I was able to see them was at the paddock in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

With plans to head to Yellowstone, I was excited to get my fix of bison crawling along the roads, grazing in fields and lounging by our campsite. I had no expectation of seeing them before then, in Utah of all places.

Spencer and I spent a sunny afternoon at Antelope Island State Park during our short stay in Salt Lake City. The park serves as a protective habitat for wildlife and is surrounded by Great Salt Lake. It is impeccably maintained and the natural landscape lends itself to beautiful photos. In my opinion, it tops some of the national parks we've seen on our journey. 

When we arrived at Antelope Island, I was planning to see antelope (duh!), which we almost did.

This is a pronghorn, which is technically not an antelope. No cigar. 
We also saw a primitive version of our fifth-wheel toy hauler. I'm not sure where the diesel goes, but I have a pretty good idea of the exhaust system.

The rustic approach to life on the road. 
A few birds graced us with their presence. I need to find a good bird-watching book, so I can become a novice ornithologist and impress friends at "cocktail" parties.

A coyote even crossed our path, looking wily as ever.

But what took me by surprise was the large bison population on the small island. We started to see a few scattered along the water. 

Then we came across the wildlife jackpot. A herd of bison clustered together alongside the road.

Looking majestic and intimidating, what seemed like hundreds of bison and their calves were just a few feet from the road. Then several started inching closer, a little closer, and soon it was clear what their intentions were.

How does a bison cross the road?

They did obey all traffic postings. 
Very timidly at first...

Then comes more confidence.

Suddenly, a stampede erupts and dozens of bison are running across the road! We're caught in the thick of it.

Ignore our silly commentary, but this is what we saw happen in several shifts:

Just as soon as it began, it was over. 

After a few hikes and trails around the park, we realized nothing could top our bison stampede experience. So we decided to make our own exit, but not before taking a leisurely dip in Great Salt Lake at sunset. 

It's no Dead Sea, but now I can say I've been in both! 
Before we left Salt Lake City to travel to Idaho, we decided to visit historic Temple Square to see the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon church. 

Although only Mormons may enter the church, the outside was quite beautifully constructed. 

Neither Spencer nor I had heard of the Family History Center, which is the largest genealogical library in the world and it's operated by the LDS church. We both took some time to look up records of our ancestors. Master copies of more than three million records are stored in a massive vault built into a mountainside outside of downtown Salt Lake City.

The library truly is a wonderful resource provided for free by the church, and much of the information can be accessed online, too. 

Our trip to Salt Lake City was short, but sweet. We made the most of our time to see some incredible wildlife and learn more about where we came from in order to figure out where we're headed.


  1. Reading your blog always puts a smile on my face! Miss you purds and cant see what you are up to next :)

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