|While Yellowstone is most famous for geysers and wildlife, it has has a rich assortment of wildflowers that bloom in summer so it is a great place to make Project BudBurst observations too!|
|Coulter Bay, Grand Teton National Park, 6772' elev.|
At low elevations in Colorado most of the Project BudBurst species had already flowered, and with the intense drought and high temperatures many plants were starting to brown up. Thistles had just started to form fruit, and the lindens had just finished flowering. Warm season native grasses had just started flowering (western wheatgrass, sand dropseed, blue grama). I was hoping to see a lot more spring or early summer wildflowers up in Yellowstone where the elevations would be more like 7 or 8,000', and they did not have the intense drought that we experienced in the southern Rockies.
|Bountiful wildflowers near the summit of Dunravan Pass 8859'|
One really surprising thing was the lack of tourists. We had to come through the park on the 4th of July, when you would normally expect things to be super crowded. Not so. Most people assume the issue was people were afraid of fires and smoke. In fact driving by Fort Collins we drove by some big fires, and also around Laramie, WY fires were blowing smoke down into Colorado. This took little way from enjoying our trip. We had nice sunsets, due in part to all this smoke. The smoke took little away from the beauty of this special place, but this country is so big that most of the area was beautiful and clear anyway.
National Parks are a great place to make Project BudBurst observations while on vacation or traveling through. If you get a chance to visit some at higher elevations it's really interesting to see how different things are from the lowlands. With lots of people visiting, Project BudBurst citizen scientists can help the parks by providing observations that help them learn about how these places are responding to changes in weather, climate, fires and other combinations of human-caused and natural processes. And its great fun too.