Thanks to an invitation from my girlfriend Sierra and her family, I spent the first weekend in May exploring Yellowstone National Park by way of Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana. The weather was perfect, and there were more plants in bloom than I had expected. During our hikes, my eyes were practically glued to the ground looking for both familiar and unfamiliar plant life. Most of the plants in bloom were short and easily overlooked. Many were non-native. Regardless, the amateur botanist in me was thrilled to be able to spend time with each one, whether I was able to identify it or not. I tried to remind myself to look up as often as I was looking down. Both views were remarkable.
On our first day there, we hiked in the hills above Chico Hot Springs. The trail brought us to a place called Trout Pond. There were lots of little plants to see along the way.
The next day we drove into Yellowstone. From the north entrance we headed east towards Lamar Valley. Wildlife viewing was plentiful. Elk, bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, black bears, red foxes, and even – if you can believe it – Canada geese.
On our third day there, we headed south to see some geysers. We made it to the Norris Geyser Basin and then decided to head east to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This was our geology leg of the tour. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t stop to look at a plant or two along the way.
Photos of Lamar Valley, red-tailed hawk, Daniel looking at a tiny plant, mystery plant, and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone were taken by Sierra Laverty. The rest were taken by Daniel Murphy.
Speaking of Sierra, she is the founder and keeper of Awkward Botany’s Facebook page and Instagram account. Please check them out and like, follow, etc. for Awkward Botany extras.