The Dragon Wagon

The Dragon Wagon
The landscaping changes often.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Tom Miner Basin 2020

The Tom Miner Basin is a place we like to visit when we are in the Yellowstone area during the early fall.  It's about 25 miles north-west of Gardiner, Montana.  Grizzly bears come to feed on the non-native caraway root found in the valley's cattle pastures while they try to fatten up for winter hibernation.  It is common to see multiple bears come to feed during the late afternoon to dusk hours.  But the area the bears are commonly feeding in is about one half to one mile away from the viewing area along the road, making photography difficult.  Spotting scopes are definitely useful for viewing here.

Typical scenery from the basin

Closeup of the rock formations

We didn't know what this tipi village was all about.  Later we learned it is for retreats run by The Common Ground Project.

As knowledge of this place has spread, more people are coming to try to see the bears.  There are often many vehicles parked along the road at the viewing area.

Even with a telephoto lens, the bears were often far away.

Two sows each with 2 cubs

A coyote, two grizzlies, and a Sandhill Crane!

Late afternoon sun illuminating seed pods

Monday, September 7, 2020

Museum of the Rockies

After Glacier National Park we spent a few days in Bozeman, Montana.  The primary reason for stopping in Bozeman was to visit the Museum of the Rockies, which houses one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the USA.

In front of the museum is a bronze cast of the bones of the Tyrannosaurus nicknamed "Big Mike" which was discovered in Montana by Kathy Wankel in 1988 and excavated by Museum of the Rockies staff during 1989-1990.  This dinosaur is now the centerpiece at the Smithsonian's new paleontology exhibit (and now called "The Nation's T-Rex").

The museum also has a living reptiles hall.
Green Tree Python

Mangrove Snake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Frilled Leaf-tail Gecko
These guys have super grippy toes.

This one was hanging onto the glass front of the case.

Star Tortoise

Veiled Chameleon

Rhinoceros Iguana
This one was so still we were not sure it was real at first, since we saw no movement, even breathing.  Later we saw it had changed its posture very slightly.

Viewable paleontology preparation lab

Allosaurus "Big Al"

Tyrannosaurus rex


Deinonychus foot with "switchblade" claw

Clawed Deinonychus hand

Tyrannosaurus skull growth sequence exhibit

Triceratops skull growth sequence exhibit

Beautiful large Placenticeras ammonite fossil

Saturday, September 5, 2020

West Glacier and Polebridge Mercantile

We had not previously explored the northwestern part of Glacier National Park and the famous Polebridge Mercantile.

The Polebridge Mercantile has provided supplies to travelers in the tiny community of Polebridge since 1914.

The store carries a wide variety of items ...

... including many goodies baked daily!

And fresh produce

Even a library!

They seem serious about their air quality.

We saw many of these small inflatable fishing boats used on the North Fork of the Flathead River.

Past Polebridge is a part of Glacier NP that we had not visited before.

Bowman Lake would have been even more spectacular with clearer skies.

This doe seemed to be extremely used to people nearby.

Glacier National Park 2020

We spent several days in Columbia Falls, Montana, as a base to visit nearby Glacier National Park.  All the park entrances on the east side were closed to protect the Blackfoot Reservation during Covid-19.  Due to the closures, the Going-To-The-Sun Road was only open to the Rising Sun area near the middle of Saint Mary Lake.  Despite the closure we found the Going-To-The-Sun Road packed with visitors, with lots of traffic and extremely limited parking available.

On our first drive we noticed a minor haze, likely resulting from the western wildfires, but the scenery was still spectacular.

We couldn't see what water source was feeding this waterfall.

We thought this park information sign was a bit different from the usual signs.

On our next drive over the Going-To-The-Sun Road, the smoky haze was noticeably heavier.

While there were many wildflowers visible along the road, there usually was no safe place to stop and take pictures.  One area had dense patches of Fireweed that was nearing the end of its blooming season.

McDonald Creek

McDonald Falls