Yellowstone National Park Lodges is offering packages this spring for wildlife watchers looking to spot various species as they prepare for the season.
“Yellowstone ‘awakens’ in the spring as the bears are fully emerged from hibernation, and newborn animals such as bison and elk calves make their debuts,’” said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ Yellowstone National Park Lodges, operator of the lodges, restaurants, tours and other concessions in the park. “The sights and sounds of May have their own feel and rhythm that are palpable and a clear signal that summer is around the corner.”
Here is what visitors can expect in May in Yellowstone:
- Grizzly and black bears have emerged from their dens and are foraging for food. This can make them easier to spot, though viewing them safely requires extra care and distance.
- Bison calves are born beginning in April, are on their feet immediately and can keep up with their mothers as soon as two hours after birth. Due to their rusty color, bison calves are often called “red dogs.”
- Elk calves, like the bison – and horses, for that matter – are up walking within an hour of birth. Elk cows have an interesting method of protecting young calves, and often run, hoping the predator will chase them and not notice the newborn lying hidden, motionless and odorless.
- Wolves, reintroduced to the park 20 years ago, are a true conservation success story and are spotted in Yellowstone on a daily basis, especially in the Lamar Valley. Only the alpha male and female of a pack breed, and the wolf puppies are born in a den between March and May.
- Female pronghorn typically deliver a set of twins. Young pronghorn walk within 30 minutes and can outrun a human within just a couple of days.
One of the best ways to observe wildlife and learn about their habitat is by participating in a Xanterra tour. The tours are led by trained interpretive guides who are knowledgeable about the park’s many species and trained to spot wildlife activity as they drive through places like Lamar and Hayden Valleys and other wildlife habitat in the park.
Shortly after the two winter lodges – Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel – close in early March, National Park Service crews begin clearing the roads that were only open to over-the-snow vehicles for the past four months. At the same time, Yellowstone National Park Lodges is hiring seasonal staff, creating menus, tuning up tour vehicles and fine-tuning its annual plan for reopening lodges.
Park lodges begin reopening for the summer season on a staggered schedule in May and June. Two fast food outlets, at Mammoth and Old Faithful, open in late April.
There are several guided vacation packages with start dates beginning in May including the Total Yellowstone Package with its first program scheduled to begin on May 31. Adventure Packages are offered exclusively by Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Several Lodging & Learning packages, part of a partnership with the Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI), the park’s official non-profit education partner, also have some May options.
One especially popular Lodging & Learning program is the Spring Wolf and Bear Discovery is a four-day package offered 10 times during the month of May. The package focuses on two of the park’s famous mammals and includes wildlife viewing excursions and hikes. It includes four nights at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, three breakfasts and lunches and one dinner. The rate is $789 per person for double occupancy.
Yellowstone National Park Lodges operates nine in-park lodging facilities, four campgrounds and an RV park along with restaurants, activities and gift shops.
Reservations and complete details about packages, accommodations, restaurants, tours and activities in Yellowstone can be found by calling (1) 307-344-7311 or toll-free 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375), or visiting the web site http://www.YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com.
Known for its “Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint,” Xanterra Parks & Resorts® entities include lodges, restaurants, tours and activities in national and state parks, as well as resorts, a cruise line, railway and tour companies. Xanterra Parks & Resorts has operations in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Crater Lake, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park; and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also owns and operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel in Williams, Ariz., the Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Country Walkers and Austin Adventures.