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That made me a little jealous, but also eager to talk with Ogintz –a syndicated family travel columnist, author, and creator of TakingtheKids.com – as I wanted to pick her brain about the trip. And as soon as she put her bags down, she graciously permitted me to do just that, as well as get some of her picks for 2013 family travel.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for travelers who enjoy America’s national park, with the hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite and now a way-too-close encounter between a young park guest and a very large bison at Yellowstone National Park. It’s not uncommon for visitors to Yellowstone to witness wildlife up close, and bison present the majority of those opportunities. However, nearly every map, brochure, posted sign, and announcement from the Parks Department urges people to maintain a safe distance between themselves and the park’s four-legged inhabitants. The folks in the video below, however, chose to ignore these warnings and narrowly avoided disaster.
Bison frequently cross over paths that have been installed for park visitors. Common sense dictates that you give these massive creatures a wide birth as they go by. Park rules require that guests stay 25 feet away from large animals and 100 feet from bears. The people shown in this video are closer to the bison than most commuters are to each other in a New York City subway. Before too long, they were running for their lives, and one young guest was nearly trampled. Sound terrifying? The adults involved seemed to find the whole incident delightfully amusing. Read more
Of course, nature also encompasses wildlife, some of which – bears, mountain lions, or even a seemingly docile bison – can turn an outdoor adventure into a trip to the hospital (or worse). And though animal attacks on humans are extremely rare, spring, when animals are coming out of hibernation and caring for their young, presents a good time for a primer on what to do if you cross paths with a potentially dangerous animal.
For expert insight, I spoke to Kurt Johnson, the resident naturalist at Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming, who’s also a wildlife photographer with decades of experience in the wilderness. “What’s really interesting about wildlife interactions with people is that they’re communicating with us constantly,” Johnson says. “They’re telling us when they become uncomfortable, when they get agitated.”
A good rule of thumb with any animal, Johnson says, is to understand that if “what you’re doing is changing the behavior of the animal, you’re doing something wrong.” Here, more tips on understanding animal instinct and staying safe in the wild.
Looking to squeeze in one last winter adventure before temperatures start to climb in the spring? Consider Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the nearby Grand Teton National Park, both of which offer breathtaking, snow-swept landscapes, an abundance of winter sports, and a welcome absence of the fanny-pack-wearing masses of tourists who descend in warmer months.
Exploring these stunning national parks – Yellowstone is the country’s first, designated as such in 1872 by the Western explorers who were dazzled by its beauty – is a perfect respite for shredded quads after skiing in nearby Jackson, or a stand-alone trip for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or traveling by snow coach or snowmobile.
Plus, it’s supremely affordable: An entrance fee of $25 per car for 7-day period covers admittance to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.
With no long lines, parking hassles, or expensive lift tickets involved, it’s no wonder snowshoeing has become the fastest-growing winter sport. This centuries-old mode of transport – according to some figures, the first snowshoes were used by migrating cultures around 3,000 or 4000 B.C. – has enjoyed an unprecedented surge as of late, with millions of enthusiasts strapping on their shoes every year.
Unlike its downhill cousins, snowshoeing is relatively cheap (you’ll pay less for your own pair of shoes than two lift tickets) and accessible (anybody with an adventurous spirit can do it) – you simply strap on your shoes and go. Plus, you’ll still get the exhilaration of communing with nature and amazing views, not to mention a killer workout.
Snowshoeing is an ideal option for anybody who’s ready for a change from the slopes (or the sliding motion of cross-country skiing). In addition, because you only need about a foot of snow, you can do it just about anywhere there’s white stuff (though make sure to follow trail etiquette). Here, a few ideal destinations where you can get trekking. Read more
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