Today’s Yellowstone bison encounter is not, thankfully, of the touron kind, instead highlighting the playful side of these majestic beasts.
Every year in early November, Yellowstone National Park (YELL) roads close to regular traffic in preparation for the winter season. The road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance remains open to regular traffic all year, but all others become winter wonderlands covered in feet of snow.
Once enough snow accumulates (typically mid-December), “oversnow” travel becomes a visitor’s only option. Thankfully, the park offers guided snowmobile or snowcoach tours. Such is the case right now in Yellowstone, and one particular snowcoach tour got the perfect show courtesy of a energetic bison bull.
As the full snowcoach tour visitor Tina Grondell was onboard approached the bull, he put on an immediate display. This is his road, he beckons as he bluff charges the vehicle. But aggression soon gives way to playfulness as the immense bison gallops, then rolls about in the snow ahead of the coach:
Grondell and fellow passengers were treated to a display few get to witness, and the resulting videos are as priceless as they come.
And of course, there’s no getting out to approach or harass a bison during Yellowstone’s guided tours. In short: this is a rare, touron-less wildlife encounter for the national park.
Tourons are Spared by Bison on a Regular Basis. Others Get Gored.
As fantastic as guided tours are, there’s only so many available. Most Yellowstone visitors traverse the park at leisure. And as few tours as there are, there’s even fewer park rangers.
One such wandering tourist was spared by a gracious bison in January. And the emphasis is on gracious here. Bison are the largest land mammal in North America, and one of the heaviest hitters on the planet. Capable of immense speed, power, and both simultaneously, they can mow down any perceived nuisance in the blink of an eye.
Yet certain Yellowstone visitors are wholly unaware of this. Some have never been in the same space as a wild animal before Others know better, but refuse to give wildlife them the respect and space they require. Enter “touron” into English vernacular.
The danger wild bison pose to tourists isn’t matter of debate, either. “Bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal,” the park cites plainly on their website. These enormous bovines are beautiful and majestic, yes. But they are also exactly what the word wildlife dictates: wild.
Despite their size, bison can turn on a dime and can run three times faster than us humans. It is no small miracle that tourons are spared on a daily basis as a result. It’s not only dangerous to approach wildlife in Yellowstone, but illegal, too, as this woman’s approaching of grizzly bears shows.