I am so excited! My favorite season is right around the corner – Fall! The first of September signals a change in décor at my house! Lots of oranges, yellows, reds and pumpkins emerge. There is something very serene about the colors of fall. The hue of the sky even seems golden. Mix that with the new chill in the air and you can just smell the cider! I am so excited that Cody/Yellowstone is my home because fall is one of the most spectacular times to visit the area!
The pace slows down in the Cody/Yellowstone area in the fall. The school calendar has taken many travelers out of the mix. You won’t miss the crowds of summer. You will also find lots of deals. I find it to be the most relaxing time to visit. Most of the lodging properties drop their rates after Labor Day so look for some great rates. Many of the stores are liquidating their summer merchandise and have some great deals. I love to do some of my Christmas shopping while traveling in the fall.
You will be the envy of all your friends when they see your fall photos from Yellowstone. Fall in the Rocky Mountains is something everyone should experience! The aspen leaves turn gold and quake in the wind making them look like pieces of gold. The reds from the maples and scrub oak add another dimension to the depth of color. The hot springs are even more beautiful as the cool air creates extra steam hanging above the pools. I love the blooming of the sage. I noticed this week that the sage near my home is beginning to bloom. To the Wyoming cowboys of days gone by, the blooming of the sage was spiritual.
The wildlife in the Yellowstone ecosystem is very active in fall. As some prepare for the upcoming winter by hurrying about collecting food, others have mating on their minds. All this makes for some pretty spectacular wildlife viewing! Bears are very active during this time in search of food. They must get as many calories as possible in preparation for hibernation. The cooler temperatures make it more appealing for the bears to be out during daylight hours. Smaller mammals like squirrels, chipmunks and pikas are also scurrying around gathering food.
In mid-August, the bison of Yellowstone begin their “rut” or mating season. It is exciting to watch bison herds during this time because there is always something going on. The herds are also on the move as the bulls keep everybody moving. Bulls tend to lose about 200 pounds or 12% of their body weight during the rut due to the constant activity. Snorts, grunts and loud bellows from the bulls can be heard for miles to attract the females. Wallowing, or rolling in dirt, is another courting behavior during this time. Both sexes wallow throughout the year but during the rut, the bulls do it competitively to lay down their scent. Most of the year, these giants seem to meander through the Park but during the rut they are in high gear.
The elk mating season is also in the fall. Like the bison, the bull elk are active and vocal. The males “bugle” to let other males know they are in the area with their harem and not to get too close. They also bugle to the females instructing them to stay close. The sound of an elk bugle in the fall is truly one of the most wonderful sounds of fall for me. When you hear this echoing sound, you will feel very connected to nature. The bulls are gathering cow elk into harems and trying to keep them all to themselves while competing bulls try to get in on the action. This is when the iconic antler battles ensue, each bull displaying his strength to the on looking cows. This time of year can be amazing for wildlife watchers.
A few attractions end their season in early September but there is still so much to do. If you visit before the end of September, most attractions will still be open with the exception of the Cody Nite Rodeo. The world class Buffalo Bill Historical Center is open year round and is a must see when visiting the area. The quite season allows you to meander through the museum and really experience the exhibits. The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is also open year round. Visit the camp where more than 14,000 Japanese-Americans were relocated to during WWII. This is a powerful and important piece of American history.
Don’t think it is too late to visit Cody/Yellowstone this year. Take a last minute trip this fall or plan to visit next fall. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! Until next time, I’ll be lovin’ fall in Cody/Yellowstone Country,
Corrie N. Cody