I love to highlight local folks who make such a contribution to Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who has made more of a mark than Bob Richard. Bob is a third generation Cody-ite, which is really saying something! His grandfather was one of the first to be licensed to give guided tours in Yellowstone National Park – that was way back in 1906! He and his brother-in-law formed the “Frost and Richard” partnership, and were granted their license by the soldiers who at that time ran Yellowstone Park.
Bob himself has very strong ties to Yellowstone. When he was but a young lad, he was a mounted ranger in the Park, so his knowledge of the best places to experience Yellowstone is vast. He has spent the last 30 years as a licensed tour guide for this region, and has hundreds of fabulous stories to tell!
I got a chance to chat with Bob just the other day about springtime in the Yellowstone region. He had some really great advice for anyone who wanted to get the most out of the great outdoors in the coming months.
CC: So, Bob, you’ve seen decades of tourist seasons come and go. Based on your experiences, what can we expect this year?
BR: You know, the numbers really vary with the economy. Other factors that influence the numbers of visitors include the amount of advertising done by the Park County Travel Council and the Cody Chamber of Commerce. Something that has helped the last couple of years is that the highway improvements are complete between Cody and Yellowstone – that really slowed things down while that was going on.
CC: What will we begin to see when it comes to wildlife between Cody and the Park in the next couple of months?
CC: That means that there will be quite a few horn hunters, huh? Hope they know to be careful when venturing out to pick up the shed antlers – the critters are weak from a hungry winter, and if they get spooked by humans venturing into their habitat, the added stress can cause them real problems, even killing them!
BR: The neat thing is, the new sets of antlers will begin growing right away for those animals.
CC: What about the babies? I just love those fuzzy little baby bears and deer!
BR: In mid-May, we’ll start seeing what the old timers called the “red dogs” – those are the little orange baby bison. Then around the end of May we’ll start seeing the baby elk, but we won’t see many of them until the first of June. We’ll also start getting glimpses of baby deer, and bighorn sheep.
CC: There are always so many bighorn sheep on the North Fork highway between Cody and Yellowstone!
BR: Yep, and many of those babies will be born right there on the North Fork.
CC: Wolves are such a big deal right now to so many people, and more and more people are coming to the Yellowstone region just to see the wolves. When will we start seeing the wolf pups?
BR: The wolf babies are born early, but they stay in the den with the rest of the pack until it gets warmer. We’ll start seeing the pups move around in early June. Bears, though, will come out with their mothers in April. They’ve been born while their mothers were still hibernating. By the time we see them, they’ll be three or four pounds.
CC: Bob, what about some of the animals around here that aren’t necessarily “wild” animals, but characterize this part of the country as well?
BR: I have to say, one of my favorite things to see come spring are the baby calves in the domestic cattle herds. I just love seeing those little black spots in the pasture! And don’t forget about the baby horses. And in this case, we’re not just talking about the domestic horses – the wild horses are being born around the same time.
CC: So, we’ve covered the four-legged critters – what about the winged animals that frequent this area?
BR: The birds are already starting to return – we’ll start seeing bald eagles on the river here soon. The pelicans will actually arrive on the Buffalo Bill Reservoir just west of Cody until the ice melts off of Yellowstone Lake – that won’t happen until around the first of June or so.
CC: Bob, after all these years guiding folks in and out of the Park, what is one of the things you look forward to every spring?
BR: One of the biggest highlights for me is going into the Park in May and seeing the depth of snow that’s accumulated over the winter. The Park is about 8,000 feet higher than it we are down here in Cody, so the season is several weeks behind up there.
CC: That’s got to make a difference when folks call you to book tours, right?
BR: That’s right! What we’ve learned to do is to tailor tours to the customer’s wishes. They tell us what they want to see when they’re out here, and we custom-build their tour for them. If they come in August and want to see wildflowers in the meadows, we can take them just north of us to the Beartooth Mountains, where there are still summer flowers in bloom at that time.
CC: So let’s put a plug in here for your business – Grub Steak Expeditions, right?
BR: Yup – they can go to a couple of websites to get more information or to book tours – I’d suggest going to www.grubsteaktours.com, or they can go to the website for the book that I’ve written that details points of interest between Cody and the East Entrance to the park. That website is www.codytoyellowstone.com.
CC: Bob, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!
BR: You’re very welcome. Anytime.
Corrie N. Cody