Worth it: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, West Yellowstone, MT

Just a block from the West entrance of Yellowstone National Park, the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is worth a stop. And you might find you’ll want to stay a while and even come back the next day. And that’s okay because the  admission fee (just $13 for adults, $8 for kids 5 years and up) is good for 2 consecutive days.

The not-for-profit wildlife center takes in orphaned grizzly bear cubs and adults from as far away as Alaska and as close by as Yellowstone Park. Most adult grizzlies are those that have become habituated to human food due to campers and hikers not following proper food storage requirements. At the outdoor exhibit, you can watch the beautiful, massive beasts foraging under rocks and logs for the fruit treats that the caretaker hides for them.  In order to rescue more bears and provide habitat variety for the existing bears, the center will be creating a new exhibit called bear meadows that will feature mini river rapids and a trout-stocked pond. Note, because they are fed all year round, the bears don’t hibernate so you can see them all year round.  And any day you want because the center is open every day.

The outdoor wolf exhibit and information about the trophic cascade was well done too.

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There’s also an extensive, interactive bear exhibit inside and plenty of programs for kids and adults, including:

  • Bear-Resistant Product Testing (I would have liked to see that one.)
  • Keeper Kids (Kids get to help the caretakers hide food for the bears.)
  • Yellowstone Park Ranger Talks
  • Live Bird of Prey Presentations (A must! The naturalist delivers an engaging, incredibly informative, hands-on presentation.)

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In the works is a River Otter Riparian Habitat that will highlight the interrelations of the critters who make up that ecosystem.

Young or old, you won’t leave the center without learning something new about the wild animals and birds of the region and the impact humans have on them and their habitat.

Local color, the Hungry Horse Reservoir & a scary attic

After working up an appetite on the Avalanche Trail in Glacier National Park, we stopped in for some sustenance at a local watering hole…It was very “colorful” as they say…Friendly barmaid and a handful of Montana mountain men.

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On the way back to Columbia Falls, we swung by the scenic  Hungry Horse Dam, the 11th highest concrete dam in the  US at 544 ft tall, 2115 ft wide, 39 ft thick at the top, and 330 ft at the base. There’s a 15 mile loop you can drive or bike, but it started pouring rain and visibility was poor so we opted out.

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Stopped for a cocktail at the Blue Moon Bar and Casino.

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Have I mentioned that it’s all about hunting in these parts? Taxidermy shops and small bars / casinos are as common as nail salons back in LA. When I walked into the Blue Moon, it was like walking into a natural history museum (and I’m not talking about just the patrons either).

 

Later, the granddaughter of the owner took me on a private tour of the attic that was jam packed with the owner’s “trophies” of big game from Canada, Alaska, Montana, etc…It was like something out of a horror movie, a bit creepy, and way over the top for this animal lover.