WATCH: Yellowstone National Park Bridge Quakes as Bison Thunder Past Tourists

by Jon D. B.
Yellowstone National Park bison. ((Photo by William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)

“They’re shaking the whole bridge!” Watch as this massive herd of Yellowstone National Park bison give car-bound tourists the ultimate show.

What’s the best rule of thumb when viewing wildlife in Yellowstone or any national park? Do so from within your vehicle! Thankfully, that’s exactly what this couple did in the Wyoming section of the park. Otherwise, they would’ve gone the way of Mufasa in The Lion King.

As the two visitors watch from their car, they can’t help but laugh as an enormous herd of bison thunder past them. Parked on a bridge, the entire world looks to be shaking as the herd forces the sturdy bridge to quake.

“They’re shaking the whole bridge!” laughs one of the companions of Kevin Robert Madigan, who originally shared his video with Storyful. “The whole bridge is jumping,” another says as the marvel continues:

A car stopped to let a herd of bison pass in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.


If you’re like me, your next question is certainly “How did this bridge withstand hundreds of thundering bison?” Adult males can weigh over a full ton, and the average adult, male or female, typically weighs around 1,000 pounds. Times that by a hundred bison per minute, and that is a lot of stress for any manmade bridge.

The first question I’ll be asking my dear friend and Yellowstone National Park lead ranger, Tara Ross, is absolutely “Are the park bridges reinforced for bison herds?” Because now I am incredibly curious.

Yellowstone National Park’s Fascinating Bison Migration

Bison have been busy of late in Yellowstone, as The Rut is in full force for their species. This “mating season on steroids” sees hormones fly and bull bison chasing down cows for pro-creation. Bulls are exceptionally aggressive during this time period, which explains the amount of car-headbutting and grunting that’s been going on in America’s first national park this month.

The Rut winds down for bison as September comes to a close. Then, it’s time for a leisurely fall before the winter migration kicks in. Come migration, bison travel a greater distance than any other ungulates in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Gigantic herds some hundreds strong will travel up to 70 miles between their summer and winter ranges. In total, bison can travel 1,000 miles throughout the year as they leave and return to the same areas. And it’s all guided by instinct.

When the migration kicks in, the result is astounding, and very much like what we’re seeing in the September 23 footage above. It’s a sight unlike any other if you manage to witness it in Yellowstone National Park.

For more on the park’s iconic species, see our Yellowstone National Park Wildlife: Animals You’ll Spot, Where to Best View Bison, Bears, Elk, Wolves, and Wildlife Safety next.