One sure sign of fall in Yellowstone National Park when bull elk begin courting female elk, sometimes right in the middle of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Bulls are much more aggressive toward people and vehicles during the rut. Several vehicles are damaged by elk every year, and on occasion people are charged by elk and are injured.
Park regulations require visitors to stay a minimum of 25 yards – the length of two school buses – away from most large animals.
Grizzly bears and black bears are moving to higher elevations to feed on this year’s abundant crop of whitebark pine seeds. They may be encountered along roads through mountain passes or on some hiking trails.
Park regulations require people to stay a minimum of 100 yards – the length of a football field – away from bears and wolves at all times. Bear sightings should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.
Visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in immediate use.
Fall also brings changing weather conditions in Yellowstone. Tourists are encouraged to stop at a visitor center or ranger station for the latest update on trail conditions and park regulations.