We were watching a herd of bison near the road when a coyote approached them like it owned the place. It walked through the herd, directly toward a calf that was surrounded by adults. Eventually an adult bison gave some threatening stomps, and the calf and its mother galloped away. Still the coyote lingered while the remaining bison stared it down.
What was this coyote trying to do? I don't know. After it outstayed its welcome, it trotted to a nearby prairie dog town and ate something bloody. A prairie dog stood a few yards away and watched; perhaps the meal was an unlucky companion. A pronghorn then appeared, surveyed the scene and ran away. Bison calves were nursing.
There was so much to see. We sat in the parked car for about 45 minutes before continuing our exploration. Nobody else drove by.
There is great opportunity to choose your own adventure in the national parks. It's easy to rely on guide literature to identify popular attractions and plan every minute of a trip because we all want to make the most of our time. But sometimes it's just as well to make time to be surprised.
National park hike: Wind Cave, Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is one of several cave tours offered at Wind Cave. It's 1/3 mile, and while there is a long stretch of narrow stairs at the beginning of the tour, it is not strenuous. The tour lasts about one hour and gives a nice sampling of cave formations while passing through magnificent underground rooms. You can find details on the park's website.
Previous national park trip reports
12 Months of National Parks: A mother-daughter tour
12 Months of National Parks No. 1, Acadia: Small children love nature, but on their own level
12 Months of National Parks No. 2, Capitol Reef: 'People shouldn't be here'
12 Months of National Parks No. 3, Arches: Are national park rules too strict?
12 Months of National Parks No. 4, Canyonlands: The best fun may require a child's eyes
12 Months of National Parks No. 5, Biscayne: A threatened park claws its way forward
12 Months of National Parks No. 6, Everglades: Please don't spank the gator
12 Months of National Parks No. 7, Bryce Canyon: The $10 lifetime senior pass needs to end
12 Months of National Parks No. 8, Death Valley: The poetry of survival