By Patricia Fontaine, 2022 Adventures Afar Participant

How does one describe the extraordinary wonder of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks? Once called America’s “Serengeti,” the region’s vistas so impressed Congress in 1872 that they agreed to secure the lands forever as the world’s first National Park. I was lucky enough to join NBNC’s Sean Beckett and a great collection of intrepid travelers on an early June adventure here.

We traveled through vast valleys (with names like Paradise and Hellroaring), featuring endless herds of grazing animals and rich bird life. And, of course, the highlights of the trip: wolves and bears. It was late spring, but snow still lingered in the mountain towns.

We saw more than could fit in memory, from a grizzly and cub browsing on wildflowers, to geysers and bubbling mud pots, to trumpeter swans harassing a beaver, to drama among wolves. Yet the pace of this trip was the pace of wildlife: unhurried, timeless, and layered like the geographical features so close at hand.

Thanks to Sean’s connection with local biologists and wolf watchers, we were able to spend an enthralling morning watching the Junction Butte pack. On this day, two wolves were resting outside their den with one of their pups when a hungry black bear showed up to try to catch the pup. The wolves sprang into team action, nipping at the bear while avoiding its lunges and swipes. Their agility, skill, and success in driving off the bear was breathtaking to witness. Hearing their eerie and far-reaching howls brought tears to many of us.

If you ever have the chance to join an adventure with NBNC, seize it!