Trip Journal & Blog

April 19th, 2015

Spring In Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park

Wildlife Viewing at its best!

Spring has sprung in the Tetons!   Spring is a wonderful time to explore the parks and Jackson Hole.  The wildlife is very active and the crowds are thin.   As the snow recedes up the mountain slopes much of the wildlife takes advantage of the new grasses and vegetation available.   Bears are emerging from hibernation and we are starting to see the first flowers in bloom.

Grand Teton From Moran

 

Generally male bears (called boars) are the first ones out of hibernation.  This past Friday, on a scouting mission, I snapped this photo of a large boar.  Females with new cubs can emerge from hibernation as late as June.

Boar Grizzly, Grand Teton 4-15 Full Size2

 

Elk have been making their way north off of the National Elk Refuge.  Most of the bulls have dropped their antlers at this point.  It’s not uncommon to see younger bulls with antlers still attached this time of the year.  Below, enjoy this picture of a young bull (approaching his 2nd birthday) after dropping one of his antlers.Elk With one Antler in Grand Teton

Winter In the Tetons: Moose and Adaptations

March 1st, 2015

Moose Teton Wildlife Tour Jackson HoleEcoTour Adventures offers great things to do during the winter in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. Consider a wildlife tour to maximize your time in Jackson.

Burr! It’s cold outside! Winter in Jackson is clearly the longest season of the year. We received our first snow in November, and if years past are any indication we can get snow in the valley through May. This is ideal if you have migrated to Jackson to SKI! Since fall we have received over 290 inches and currently have a snow pack of 88 inches! The wildlife in the valley has a different perspective on winter. Many species are simply enduring our frequent snowstorms, a deep snowpack, wind, and bitter temperatures.

On our wildlife tours, we like to say that animals in Jackson get MAD! They Migrate, Adapt, or Die.  Let’s briefly talk about Adapting.

There are two main ways that animals Adapt to the winter! There are physical and behavioral adaptations. Let’s pick moose and go through some of their physical and behavioral adaptations.

 

Physical Adaptations: If you have ever held a long moose guard hair in your had and tried to bend it you see that it creases at an abrupt angle. This is because the hair is hollow. You may ask, what is the importance of a hollow hair? Hollow hairs trap air next to the animals skin. This increases the insulative qualities of the moose’s coat. There is also the thought that the hollow tubes actually transmit sunlight directly to the skin! Pretty Cool, eh?

Behavioral Adaptations: On those really cold days with deep snows it may be quite difficult to find a moose moving around feeding. Subconsciously moose and others animals are carefully reviewing their energy balance all winter long. Energy expense is high in the winter because of the cold and the challenges of moving through deep snow. Quality of the food is low in the winter. You can see the challenge! On very cold and snowy days it is in the best interest of moose to say put and wait out the storm. Much more energy would be spent browsing for food then what the food would return in calories. In these situations moose will lay on top of their legs to reduce the amount of surface area of the body exposed to the elements to reduce heat loss. Genius I’d say!

On our wildlife tours we enjoy sharing this place we love so much with our guests. We will travel to the wildlife hotspots inside Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the National Elk Refuge. Our park tours are a great activity for skiers and non-skiers alike. Maximize your time in the area. Book a tour today!

Fall Wildlife Safaris

September 29th, 2013

Eco Tour Adventure’s fall wildlife safaris have been featured in several national newspapers including The LA Times, Washington Post, and Boston Herald.

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Autumn is has arrived in Jackson Hole. The summer rush has passed, the children are back in school, and the crowds are starting to thin out. With the change in season comes a change in wildlife behavior. The summer has been hot, and many of the animals that call this place home hunker down in the shade or close to the water to keep cool.  There are many physical and behavioral adaptations that help animals keep cool in the summer or conversely warm in the winter.  On one of our educational wildlife watching programs you just might have the opportunity to see a large bull moose bedded down by a body of water in the comfort of the shade with their legs extended to help dissipate their body heat.  During the winter months you might find the same moose in a different habitat type laying on top of their long gangly legs, reducing the surface area of their body exposed to the winter weather.     

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On our half or full day educational adventures in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park during the fall months there are opportunities around every corner to observe species like elk, moose, bison, pronghorn, mule deer, eagles, white pelicans, swans, bears, and river otters. If the stars align correctly then we can even get a glimpse of some of Grand Teton National Park’s 50-60 wolves.  

 

Elk are my favorite species to observe in the fall. Come on a tour to get a better feel for what you are seeing unraveling in the field. Fall marks the elk rut or breeding season.  Here the mature bull elk are making their case for why they should be the breeders of the year. Generally the most “fit” bulls have the opportunity to sire most of the females in a population. Males are displaying their impressive antlers that may weigh as much as 40lbs a pair. One of the most impressive sounds that we hear in our woods is the sound of the male elk bugle. Just think of a sound that one would hear on a scary Halloween night. A scream that echoes through the forest for up to a mile. Males bugle back and forth to each other advertising their fitness and stamina, all the while the female are listening with their heads down grazing.   The most “fit” males accumulate on average 26 females that they intend to breed with. The males will then keep “their” ladies in a tight group keeping other adult males from entering his harem.  

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It’s a pretty amazing sight to see a mature bull with antlers spanning 6 feet walking out of the morning fog, bugling with head up and his ladies all around.    

 

Let us have the opportunity to share this wonderful ecosystem with your group.  Western Wyoming will take on a whole new light as your learn about this incredible area while your time is maximized viewing the area’s abundant wildlife.  

Let the Rut Begin!

August 28th, 2013

Late summer is the beginning of breeding season in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. Right now bison are gathering for the annual August rut and you can hear the loudest, snorts, roars, sneezing, and belches across the valley. The bison rut is so exciting to watch because of the action between bulls to show dominance. The bulls wallow and communicate a series of sounds from snorts to grunts to display their strength and vigor. bison-wallowing-for-the-rut-019.jpg

During the rut, lone bulls and bull groups join the cow and calf groups and begin courting the females. Once a bull has found a female close to estrus, he will stay by her side to keep other bulls from mating with her. After bison mate, they break up within hours and the bull moves on to other females.

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Also, the bull elk are beginning to bugle and this mating ritual can be heard at night in certain areas of the park. “Bugling” is meant to challenge other males as well as attract females.

Join us for an Eco Tour to observe the breeding activity in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.

Summer in Jackson Hole

June 17th, 2013

 

Summer is in full swing here in the Tetons. The valley is covered with Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Lupines, and Yellow Violet wildflowers. There are over 100 different types of native wildflowers in Wyoming and in the summer Jackson Hole is filled with their bright colors. This is a great time for photography capturing all the diverse flora amongst the Tetons.

Wildflowers in Grand Teton National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few weeks we have had some great wolf sightings. We have been observing a wolf pack where the alpha female gave birth to 7 black wolf pups this spring.

Wolf in the Tetons

 

At the end of 2012, there were 7 packs in Jackson Hole between the Elk Refuge and north end of Grand Teton National Park: Huckleberry Pack (6 wolves), Lower Gros Ventre (5), Pacific Creek (13), Phantom Springs (8), Pinnacle Peak (10), Snake River (4), and 781 Group (2), for a minimum of 48 wolves.



Collectively, these and other wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem disperse and form new packs and territories, resulting in a dynamic and continuously evolving wolf population.

Join us for an Eco Tour to learn about all the wildlife that abounds in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.

 

Happy New Year!!!

January 24th, 2013

Here at EcoTour Adventures we are very excited and humbled that TripAdvisor.com listed us as one of the

 

“GREAT WILDLIFE TOURS OF THE WORLD”       check the below link to see where we stand.

 

http://www.tripadvisor.com/InfoCenter-a_ctr.wildlifetours

Thanks to our past guests that have posted reviews, we couldn’t of done it without your kind words.   

Grand Tetons

 The New Year has brought some super cold temperatures to the Jackson Hole Area.  Last week we recorded -33 in Teton Village.   These cold

 

temperatures didn’t stop us a bit.  We bundled up and headed out into park for some amazing sights.  

 

 Animal adaptations, both behavioral and physical can be astounding.    A good example of a great behavioral adaption that moose employ to “beat the

 

cold” would be something as simple as laying on their legs.    This reduces the surface area of their body that is exposed to the cold.  YOU BET, that

 

when the temperatures are -20 to -30 that many of our ungulates are laying directly on top of their legs.  

Best tours in Jackson Hole

 

 

An example of a physical adaption that we seen in moose would be their long and hollow guard hairs.  These long guard hairs help block the natural

 

elements (ie. wind, rain, and snow) as well provide great insulation.   

 

If you are interested in maximizing your time in the park observing the area’s wildlife and learning about this great ecosystem do keep us in mind for

 

tours.   

 All of our guides have backgrounds in the sciences and are eager to share their experiences and knowledge with our guests.

 

Wildlife Tours Grand Teton

 

 

We hope to have the opportunity to tour with you down the road!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Just Might Be My Favorite Time To Be In the Parks

August 31st, 2012

Fall is right around the corner.   The temperatures are dropping and we are seeing some changes in the area.    The bison rut is finishing up and the elk are gearing up for their rut.    

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We have had some frosts the past two weeks (a reminder that it is time to start covering the garden at night once again) but the daytime temperatures are still in the 80ies most days. 

 

September and October is such a great time to tour with EcoTour Adventures.   The crowds are thin and the wildlife is very active.  

 

This just may be my favorite time to be in the parks.  

 

 

For myself the elk are the most interesting to watch.  On tours we view elk from places that most visitors will not find on their own so we have the elk’s behavioral display all to ourselves.     It is captivating to watch them contain their harem of female cow elk. 

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Typically an adult bull will acquire a harem of 2-26 cows.  On occasion I have seen harems up to 90 cows.   

 

The adult bull works hard to keep his cows contained and to keep the satellite bulls from entering his group of cows.   It’s quite the spectacle to observe. 

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Explore with EcoTour Adventures to observe the natural world in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  

Grizz 399 and Grizz 610

April 24th, 2012

It’s so great to get reunited with some of the most famous bears in the USA.   Grizzly 399 and her 6 year old daughter, 610.  

610 bears Grand Teton wildlife

Grizzly 399 has been gracing residents and visitors alike with her presence for over a decade.  6 years ago she gave birth to three cubs.  Grizzly bears will typically become reproductively active between 3-8 years of age.  

One of 399’s cubs was named 610.  Just last June we witnessed both 399 and 610 out of hibernation with cubs in tow.   Grizzlies may have anywhere from 1-4 cubs and those cubs are born in the den in January or February.  

Wildlife Tour Grand Teton National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2011, 399 amazingly enough had three more cubs and 610 had two cubs.   

In the middle of the summer, we started noticing that 610 was traveling and feeding with three cubs and the next day we noticed that 399 only had two in tow.  

A rare cub swap had occurred!   On occasion a sow bear will adopt orphaned cubs.  What is unusual is that the orphaned cub’s mother (399) was alive and healthy.  

 Wildlife Bears Grand Teton National Park

What I believe happened is that 399 and 610 were foraging in close proximity.  At times the cubs will get distracted and wander away from mom.  I have seen it many times before where a cub will then look around for mom and then run towards her.  I believe the cub was distracted, wandered off, saw another bear and then ran towards the other adult bear.  As of last week, 610 is still caring for and teaching “the way of the bear” to her adopted cub.  

Last summer the bear watching was incredible!  All summer and fall on tours we were graced with the presence of these two families and a few other adult grizzlies in the northern section of Grand Teton National Park.  

We only hope that we will be so lucky again.   

 

Join us for an Eco Tour to discover and learn about the wildlife that abounds here in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.Bear 399 wildlife tetons

Spring is almost here in the “HOLE”!

March 6th, 2012

It’s the first week of March and it feels like spring is here!   The temperatures have been approaching the mid 40’s but don’t let that fool you, remember we are in Wyoming!   The average lows for this time of the year are generally in the mid teens with highs in the low  40’s.  It seems that we are

 

right on track.   

In Mid March the park service will begin to plow the parks roads.  For just about the entire month of April these roads will be open to non-motorized use.  Break out those roller blades and running shoes, because its wonderful to travel directly below the Teton Mt. Range without the sound of

 

cars driving by.  

Big Horn Sheep Wildlife Tetons

 

Winter tours have been a blast.  On tours we have been lucky enough to spot species like wolves, bison, elk, bighorn sheep,  moose, bald/golden eagles, trumpeter swans, foxes, coyotes, mountain goats, and great grey owls to name a few of the species.

 

We are excited for this spring season as it is one of our favorite times to be in the parks.  The crowds are thin and the wildlife tends to be very active and visible.    During the spring months there is still copious amounts of snow in the mountains and a majority of the wildlife tends to be

 

concentrated in the valley where we conduct our tours.   

The Stinsons enjoying the Tetons

 

We are in the park daily!  We know where the recent sightings are and without wasting time take you directly to those locations.   

 

 

 Join us for a wildlife and park tour not to forget.   

 

 

 Call now for tour availability!   

The Eagle Tracker

February 17th, 2011

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Hunting season here in the Hole has come to a close.  With it, comes a silent safety for a lot of the scavenging wildlife populations such as ravens, bald eagles, bears and wolves.  Researchers at Craighead Beringia South (CBS), a local non-profit science and education institution, found that ravens were being poisoned by lead from bullets.  Until recently, researchers were able to very accurately predict the blood lead levels in ravens due to its correlation with the number of big game tags issued in hunting season.   Hunters, after tracking and shooting game, remove the animal’s organs and leave them and other parts for scavenger animals.  In these ‘offal piles’ as they are called, there are also bullet fragments.  If the bullets are lead, scavenger animals feed on meat from the carcass and inadvertently ingest the toxic metal, which can be fatal especially for birds.  Accordingly, researchers and hunters alike now promote the use of copper ammunition, a non-toxic alternative.  In Jackson Hole, however, there is an added unseen effect of lead poisoning which could effect more than just the valley’s wildlife.  Every hunting season, birds, such as the great Bald Eagle, arrive in great numbers from the surrounding regions to feast on offal piles.  Afterward, they return home, some with toxic amounts of lead in their systems.  Lead poisoning effects birds in a multitude of ways, most severely by effecting reproduction and population levels.  With the migration of birds from one area to another, this could mean a visible decline in the health and populations of scavenger birds in a large section of the country and into Canada. 

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 ...........In order to further understand the magnitude of lead poisoning in bald eagles, researchers at CBS started capturing bald eagles in the area for a new research project.  Before releasing them, they take blood samples and outfit them with some pretty pricey tracking backpacks, which will transmit the eagle’s location daily for three years.  In essence, this reveals the ‘reach’ of the lead problem.  EcoTour has sponsored one of these tracking backpacks for a female that was captured along the Snake River in August of 2010.  For the moment she is nameless, which is why we’re inviting you to give her a name.  For more in depth information about the eagle project and lead poisoning please see our “Education” tab on the home page.  And as always, book an EcoTour Adventure to experience the wildlife they way it is meant to be experienced.  But first, help us name our eagle! 

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