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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall in Grand Teton National Park

Wondering what you will see on a visit to Grand Teton National Park in October? 

This two minute video highlights dramatic fall color, magnificent views, and wildlife including moose, bear, deer, bison, and pronghorn.

Certain views of the spectacular Grand Teton mountain range have been photographed tens of thousands of times, but each sunrise is still different. It is a surprise, having set out in the dark well before dawn, to see what the sunrise will bring, and in autumn, around the end of September and beginning of October, the fall color is spectacular.

Dawn at Schwabacher Landing

Mt. Moran just before dawn

Dawn at Oxbow Bend

There are more reported moose sightings in October than any other month, but to see a moose you must be in the right place at the right time. To photograph the animal you must also have a great deal of patience. Typically, this bull lay in the sage brush for nearly four hours - showing the moose paparazzi only a wonderful view of his antlers. During this time he stood up only once for 30 seconds. For all we know, he may have laid there another four hours before walking off, as we did not stay longer.

Moose lying in sage brush

Moose are huge animals which can weigh nearly a ton and stand almost 7 feet tall. They feed primarily on vegetation, both on land, and submerged under water. They can even dive - up to 18 feet deep - to feed. They are often found in marshy wetlands, and love to hide in dense brush and willows. It is amazing how quickly such a large animal can disappear into the brush. They are regularly seen along the Snake River, from the Moose-Wilson Road, at Oxbow Bend, at Schwabacher Landing, and also along the Gros Ventre River.

Bull moose near Moose-Wilson Road

Bull moose near Gros Ventre RIver

Bull moose near Gros Ventre River

Bull Moose near Moose-Wilson Road

As with the moose pictured in the sage brush above, many times this animal is first spotted lying in tall grass or sage.

Bull moose in grass

While it is especially thrilling to spot the big bulls with the huge racks of antlers, the cow moose and their calves are also fascinating to watch.

Cow moose feeding in pond

Calf born this spring still stays near his mama

Much of the park provides excellent habitat for bear - both grizzly bear and black bear. In fall they enter a phase called “hyperphagia” in which they eat voraciously in preparation for winter hibernation. These young black bears were photographed along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Cinnamon-colored American Black Bear

Tourists watch American Black Bear on Moose-Wilson Road

The aspens and sycamores turn bright shades of yellow and deep gold in fall. Some bushes turn to red and rust colors. The grasslands glow gold in morning and evening light.

Fall color near Jenny Lake

Aspens on Moose-Wilson Road

Near water, you may see various ducks, Canada geese, and other water fowl. The premier winged fishermen are eagles and osprey.

Osprey with fish

American Bison are an iconic animal of both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Huge animals, often found in herds, they can be dangerous and as with other big game, it is important to keep an appropriate distance - federal law requires 25 yards for most of the big animals, and 100 yards for bear and wolf.

American Bison

Pronghorns are a lovely, graceful animal, often found in small groups. It is the fastest animal on land in North America, and is often seen in the open sage grasslands of the park. Antelope Flats and the area along the Gros Ventre River are especially good places to observe pronghorn.