Yellowstone in September

September rushed by in a pleasant flash.

At the beginning of the month I decided to visit Bechler, an area of Yellowstone I’d never seen before.  Tucked into the relatively remote southwestern edge of the park, Bechler has no geysers or hot springs but is dotted with so many waterfalls that it’s sometimes called Cascade Corner.  None of Yellowstone’s main roads goes there.  Reaching Bechler from Livingston requires a long drive either south towards Jackson and back around or over to West Yellowstone and down through Idaho.

I decided to camp for a night near Yellowstone Lake, wake up before dawn for photos in Grand Teton National Park, and then continue on to Bechler from there.  Clouds blocked the first morning light from from hitting the Tetons, but it’s always an incredible place to be for sunrise.

 

September Sunrise at GTNP

 

I made it to Bechler by mid-morning, and after setting up my tent at the nearly-empty Cave Falls Campground I headed over to Cave Falls, just inside Yellowstone’s southern border.

 

Cave Falls in September

 

Cave Falls Portrait

 

At mid-day I pulled up to the Bechler Ranger Station and from there hiked across mostly-flat terrain to Bechler Falls.  True to its reputation, the area was practically deserted.  I hiked for hours and never saw another person, a very welcome change of pace from the more popular areas of the park.  The scenery at Bechler was beautiful, but when my hike was over I realized I still had plenty of daylight left and nothing else I particularly wanted to see, so instead of camping another night I just re-packed my tent and drove back to Livingston.

One evening not long after returning from Bechler I heard some activity outside my back door and went to the window to investigate.  The sun had just set, but there was still more than enough light to see a large dark shape ambling along the far edge of the Yellowstone River:  a black bear, no more than 50 yards away!  The bear vanished into the trees before I could take a photo, but wow, I really can’t complain about my backyard wildlife viewing opportunities.  I’d been disappointed I didn’t see many animals in Bechler, but a bear making a house call more than compensated.

For almost two weeks in the middle of the month I visited Marie in Mountain View.  At the very start of the trip we celebrated Marie’s birthday with a night at the Loews Regency in downtown San Francisco, a hotel near the top of one of the city’s tallest buildings.  The views of the skyline and the bay were spectacular.  Clouds interfered with my photo plans, but it was an amazing place to spend a night.

 

Setting Sun from Loews Regency

 

Sunset View from Loews

 

Golden Gate Sunset from Loews Regency

 

Transamerica and Coit Tower from Loews Regency

 

Before the end of my visit Marie and I went to see The National at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, my first time at what is really a cool venue.  It was awesome to spend time with Marie, and it had been far too long since I’d been able to see her dogs.  Thankfully they didn’t seem to hold my absenteeism against me.

Livingston and Yellowstone looked and felt dramatically different when I returned to Montana.  Many of the trees were already yellow and orange, the skies were mostly gray, and cold winds were blowing.  Just that quickly, fall had swept summer out of the way.

 

September Leaves in Yellowstone

 

Bison Grazing on a Cloudy Morning

 

Pronghorn in Early Light

 

Changing Leaves in Lamar Valley

 

Wolf Watchers in Lamar Valley

 

Bull Elk in Tall Grass

 

Yellow Leaves in Lamar Valley

 

On the last day of September it snowed in Livingston.  I’m guessing fall’s reign will be short-lived.