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NPS Centennial: Running with the Wolves in Yellowstone

 
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When I was a junior in the biology department at Appalachian State University, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel cross-country throughout the United States, into Mexico and Canada, visiting many state and national parks. Our studies focused on the fauna and flora throughout the U.S. We traveled for 7 weeks.

Western-NPS-Tour-2-Gina-3.jpgOne of my favorite parks that we visited was Yellowstone National Park. The amazing diversity of wildlife, landscape, and wide open spaces, all of which was perfect for wildlife watching, added to the grandeur of the park. It was awesome to be an observer of an intact ecosystem.
 
As we drove across our amazingly diverse country, I noted in my journal all the places I would one day, hopefully, return to. Years later, I moved to Idaho, and once again had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park on several occasions. This time, however, it was due to the gray wolf reintroduction program which began in 1996 and continued into 1997. I was involved with the Northern Rockies gray wolf recovery project, and we had our annual wolf meetings at Chico Hot Springs, just outside of the northern entrance to the park.

Western-NPS-Tour-2-Gina-2.jpgThe first time that I returned to the park after the reintroduction of the wolves, I was excited beyond words! It was very likely we would see some of the original wolves released into the park that were reintroduced from Canada just months prior. The first evening as we ventured into the park, we pulled over to a highly popular viewing area and got out all of the spotting scopes available. Within a couple of hours, we spotted the Druid Peak.  There, we witnessed the wolves running single file across the edge of a nearby slope. Tears streamed down my face. To be part of something so incredible, and to witness the return of such a controversial and iconic animal, was an experience of a lifetime.

Yellowstone National Park continues to be one of my favorite parks. The diversity of species and healthy ecosystem are things of which we can all be proud as Americans. Thankfully, a few of the country’s forefathers recognized the beauty and intrinsic value of nature, and took the steps to ensure its protection.

- Gina, Mast Original Store

For more of our Mast Family National Park Service adventures and recommendations, click HERE