Tag Archives: state park

Try to Peep These Rare Flowers this Spring

As the old childhood rhyme goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” and luckily it’s almost time for those spring flowers to finally start blooming. Nothing makes spring feel sprung quite like a field of gorgeous wildflowers or budding tree branches. Ah, the pollen; ah, the allergies; ah, it’s spring at long last! As you’re sure to be gallivanting around the countryside now that the warm weather is here (we know we can’t be alone in this desire), keep an eye out for some of these rare flowers.

Ghost Orchid

Ghost orchids.

These “spooky” flowers kind of look like they’re dancing around, right? [Image: http://www.technicianonline.com/]

This spidery flower can be found in Cuba as well as in Florida, as it can only be cultivated in climates that support its growth. This is part of what makes the flower so hard to come by. You’ll be sure to recognize a ghost orchid from other flowers as it doesn’t produce any leaves and has a distinct soap-like smell. Ghost orchids only bloom for three weeks between April and August, so keep your eyes peeled if you happen to visit Cuba or Florida in those months!

Corpse Flower

Corpse flower.

Possibly the prettiest corpse you’ll see. [Image: http://www.wpr.org/]

Discovered in 1878 in Sumatra, this amazing flower can be found scattered around the United States, as it has been cultivated in various areas (most notably in the Huntington Botanical Garden in California). This unique flower gets its name from its startling smell, which many have described as the “scent of the dead.” Aside from being the stinkiest flower in the world, it’s also the largest, measuring up to six feet tall in blooming season. Corpse flowers tend to bloom once every 30 to 40 years, so mark your calendars way in the future so you don’t miss out on this marvel!

Jade Vine

Jade vine.

What a garden to walk through! [Image: http://www.excelsagardens.com/]

Native to tropical rainforests in the Philippines, this woody vine is sure to catch your attention if you happen to come across it. The vines that hang from the hooked flowers can grow up to three meters long! Unfortunately this gorgeous plant is an endangered species as its habitat and natural pollinators continue to get destroyed.



Everything about this flower looks like it belongs in Hawaii. [Image: http://kulamanufarm.com/]

There’s a dramatic story behind this flower, but luckily it ends on a pretty positive note. This Hawaiian flower is incredibly rare and was discovered in 1860 when only three specimens could be found. It was nearly impossible to cultivate in other areas, and in 1950 the last seedling died and it was rendered extinct—that is, until a surviving flower was found in 1970. Which, unfortunately, met its end in a fire in 1978. But alas! As promised, this whirlwind of a tale does have a happy ending! One of the branches on the last remaining tree eaten up in the fire was saved, and it was grafted into 23 trees, all of which exist still today. These implanted seedlings can be seen in various spots of Hawaii—you’ll be sure to recognize them for their astonishing bright red flowers.

Whether you’re intentionally seeking out one of these beauties or you have the rare honor of stumbling across (and hopefully not on) one, you’re sure to be dazzled by their excellence. Make sure you bring our Pocket Ranger® apps with you to make your journeys more enjoyable and full of more of nature’s beauty.

Start to Thaw Out in the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York with the Annual Maple Weekends

Contributed by Cattaraugus County Tourism

People in a cafeteria area at maple weekends

[Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism]

Cattaraugus County has many tree-lined hills covered with maple trees. This makes March and April some of the best times of year. Why, you ask? Maple season! Time for some sweet, syrupy goodness! With all these beautiful maple trees around, you can bet that we have some of the best tasting maple syrup around as well as maple farms that range from family size to full-on, year ’round productions.

All of New York State shares in this splendid time of year when the world around us starts to thaw out and the sap starts to flow. Therefore, we devote two maple weekends each year to our maple farms. You can tour one of the participating farms, try samples, join in on fun activities, or just purchase some of this liquid goodness. So how does warming up with a hot pile of pancakes sound to ease the cold of winter?

March is the beginning of a season of tradition where local maple farms begin to tap the trees in hopes of some sweet sap flowing down into their buckets. The time period between winter and spring is best for collection, with temperatures around 40 degrees being ideal. Nowadays, trees are tapped with cordless drills and small plastic spouts are placed to run the sap into a hanging bucket. But technology is always changing the ways people do anything, exploding into this process as well. Some maple farms have intricate webs of tubing, going straight from the tree to the tank with vacuums to draw out that delicious sap. Each farm uses the same basic idea to get the sap, but have different techniques and processing systems to bring syrup to your table.

People in a cafeteria at maple weekends

[Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism]

During the maple weekends of March 19–20 and April 2–3 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. each day, some of our maple farms open their sugarhouses, set out the samples, and invite all to share in their love of one of the sweetest products Mother Nature produces. This activity is great for families and is kid-friendly. So lose those winter blues by heading outdoors, learning about your surroundings, and thawing out with Maple Weekends!

Sprague’s Maple Farm in Portville

Offers wagon rides to their authentic old-fashioned Sugar Shack where they have delicious samples waiting for you to try! Have you ever tasted maple wine? Learn a little about the various grades of syrup, sample the different ranges, eat a maple donut, or just stand next to evaporator and take in the smell of boiling sap. You will be sniffing your coat the rest of the week! Starting out as a hobby over 30 years ago, this huge farm now boasts a restaurant serving all your maple favorites as well as free-range turkey dinners. Maple is used in almost every dish that is served, making anything you order sweet and savory.

Wright Farms in Farmersville

It’s worth a visit to see how they are able to manage 8,000 taps. Five generations of Wright’s have worked to maintain the tradition of producing maple syrup and maple products on the farm since 1840. In fact, one of those generations was inducted into the American Maple Museum’s Hall of Fame in 1978 for his contributions to the maple industry. Besides syrup, they make maple cream, which can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, french toast, hot cereal, fresh fruit, ice cream, and more!

Boberg’s Maple in Delevan

Known for their Maple Cream, visit Boberg’s for a tasty treat! Their process is more traditional, with older equipment adding to the charm of the Farm. Warm up to this family owned and operated business. Samples are available.

The Pancake House at Moore’s in Freedom

They’re still serving up “all you can eat” pancakes from January to mid-April! Their unique restaurant is also filled with a selection of antiques, including a washing machine, sleds, tools, chinaware, knickknacks, and other memorabilia. This year, they are offering wagon rides to the Sugar Shack, samples, and more fun! Discover why you will be travelling back to this Pancake House over and over again throughout the season.

Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda

About 40 miles south of Buffalo, they recently remodeled their sugarhouse. You can come in during Maple Weekends and see the evaporator at work, sample some goodies, and learn about their farm that started out 20 years ago and now takes care of over 4,000 taps! In the past, they had horse-drawn wagon rides, tours, and demonstrations as well as other food you can buy. See what surprises they have for you this year.

Bottles and decor at Cattaraugus County Maple Weekend

[Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism]

Whatever farm you decide to go to, admission is FREE and all are more than happy to welcome you to their sugarhouse with a sweet, warm aroma of heated maple syrup. Each farm takes pride in their product and are happy to be doing what they are. Come to Cattaraugus County and embrace our agricultural side—your stomach will thank you!

Are two weekends not enough? Then keep a heads up for the Franklinville’s WNY Maple Festival April 24–25—two days of pancake eating, craft items, a parade, and live demonstrations. Read more about these events and places on our website, or get more information by calling 1-800-331-0543 or emailing info@enchantedmountains.com.

Beginner’s Guide to Hiking Trail Etiquette

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

We’re getting closer and closer to spring hiking season, and as the weather gets nicer, more outdoor enthusiasts will take advantage of warmer temperatures to get outside. Trail etiquette is important no matter the time of year, but when trails get crowded, it’s essential to observe a few key unwritten and written rules to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for you and other hikers.

Hikers Observing Trail Etiquette

Image: Katie Levy

What you take into the woods with you comes out with you.

It should go without saying, but somehow I still frequently see items like water bottles and granola bar wrappers left behind. Even on the most well-used trails, the “pack it in, pack it out” concept is still crucial to the protection of the landscape and to the enjoyment of others using the trail, including organic matter. Things like orange peels and apple cores take time to decompose, and if they’re not native to the area, tossing them into the brush is even worse.

Be courteous with technology on the trail.

Hiker a trail with heavy backpack

Image: Katie Levy

As ubiquitous as smartphones and other gadgets are these days and as useful as they can be in emergencies, most of us are familiar with seeing them in use on the trails. But that doesn’t mean everyone around us wants to hear our text message alerts, ringtones, and favorite music or bump into us because we’re not paying attention to where we’re walking.

Keep your phones on silent unless it’s essential you hear alerts, and if you do stop to use your phone, make sure you’re not blocking other trail users. Also consider leaving your headphones at home. Listening to music makes it tougher to hear what’s going on around you, including other trail users and wildlife.

Know who has the right of way.

During peak hiking season (and even during non-peak hiking season), you’re bound to run into other people making good use of the trails. But what happens if you run into someone on a mountain bike or on a horse?

As a rule of thumb, no matter what method of transportation you’re using—two wheels or two feet—horses have the right of way. Step in the downhill direction from the horse when you’re yielding to avoid spooking them. As another rule of thumb, mountain bikers should yield to hikers. As always, let common sense guide you. If it’s easier for you as a hiker to yield to an oncoming cyclist flying down a hill, step aside to help keep everyone safe. Know what direction has the right of way.

Two hikers on a summit

Image: Katie Levy

In addition to the hierarchy of who yields to who, it’s important to remember that if you run into another hiker or hiking party coming uphill toward you, they have the right of way. As much fun as it can be to run downhill, going uphill is a lot of work. Interrupting the pace of an upward-bound hiker is a no no, unless they let you know it’s OK. I know I’m often grateful for an opportunity to step aside and take a break! Offer to yield first, then let that upward-bound hiker make the call.

Do your business far, far off trail, and clean up afterward.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is pretty specific around how to relieve yourself in the woods with minimal impact on the environment and other outdoor enthusiasts. Specifically, “Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug six to eight inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.”

And even if you’re not depositing solid human waste, ultimately getting yourself far away from trails and being picky about where you do your business makes it less likely that someone else will stumble upon your temporary bathroom spot. Try bringing a sandwich bag with you to pack toilet paper and hygiene products in, too. There’s not much worse than seeing a pile of used TP in the woods.

What other rules do you think we should add to the list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Wildlife in the White House

In celebration of President’s Day, let’s turn our heads not to the presidents of the United States, but to the pets that ruled the White House. Surprised? Don’t be! Wildlife has long entrenched its presence in the White House even before local and international fascination placed them in the spotlight. Below we’ll discuss some of the odder White House wildlife that eternally left their paw prints in the cemented steps of the executive palace.

Gifted Alligators

President John Quincy Adams had two—that’s right, two!—alligators that occupied the White House during his presidency. These alligators were said to have been a gift by the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat who had an allegiance to the United States and was a key player in the American Revolutionary War. Not much backstory was provided as to why the Marquis gifted President Adams the alligators, but the story goes that the president then decided to place them in the White House bathtub.

alligator bro

President Adam’s alligators might have offered the same invitation as above. Won’t you return the favor? [Image: http://weknowmemes.com/]

Much hilarity (and fright) must have ensued once guests asked to use the lavatory and—surprise, surprise—they were met by two alligators!

Ike and his Flock

Ike began ruling the White House when President Woodrow Wilson experienced growing administrative difficulties during the conflict sparked by World War I. Evidently, President Wilson decided that the best way to maximize manpower was to purchase a flock of sheep and let them perform the White House garden maintenance duties; this would free up the gardeners so they could make more important war contributions. The fleece was also auctioned off to buyers eager to contribute to war efforts, a useful financial benefit.

sheep in white house

A flock of sheep grazing the White House grounds. [Image: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/]

Ike was actually part of this flock and was by far the most renowned, if not for his stature then for his impressive temperament. Apparently, Ike was not shy. When he didn’t get his royal requests, he showed his displeasure through ram-like aggression.


This is not Ike, but it’s easy to imagine our old pal holding this kind of expression during one of his liminal outbursts. Just put a cigar in his mouth, and you’d have quite a historical picture! [Image: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/]

But possibly one of the more humorous things about Ike was that he had a particular fondness for chewing cigars. He chewed cigar butts whenever he made such a golden find. Such was his love of cigars that during his last breath in 1927, his caretaker reported that he died “peacefully munching” on the cigar that was last given to him! Old Ike must now be resting peacefully, hopefully in a cigar haven.

Lions or Taxes?

President Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, was automatically inducted into presidency after the death of President Harding. He was well-known for his silence and for having, by all intents and purpose, a literal zoo in the White House.

Amazingly, Coolidge had 25 pets during his term; though most of these consisted of cats and dogs, there were some obscure additions to the pack, such as Enoch the goose; Rebecca and Reuben the raccoons; Ebenezer the donkey; a black bear; a wallaby; Billy the pygmy hippo; and Smoky the bobcat. However, the most impressive of the pack are the lion cubs given to him by the dignitaries of other nations, which he named Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau.


Docile and tame? Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau were the lion cubs that Coolidge kept in the White House. [Image: http://i.imgur.com/]

The story goes that both of the lions’ names were inspired by Coolidge’s economic policies. While having pet lions may raise many eyebrows, they fit in quite well with the Coolidge family.

Pauline Wayne, At Your Service

The last one on our list is the “Queen of the Capital Cows” and also the last cow that ever grazed in the White House, Pauline Wayne. She was actually a successor of Mooly Wooly, the first bovine pet of President William Howard Taft.


Pauline Wayne, 1911: “The Royal Cow.” She stood at about four feet tall and was a sturdy spotted bovine. [Image: http://i1.wp.com/]

If there was ever a celebrity animal in the White House, one of the strongest contenders is probably Pauline Wayne. Transported from Kenosha, Wisconsin by train, Pauline was a gift from Senator Isaac Stephenson. Her job was to provide milk and butter for the First Family.

Sound odd? Not as odd as it seems, actually! Pauline was a proficient milk and butter provider. In fact, her celebrity status was such that many media outlets sought to cover this majestic girl. She was also frequently invited to cow shows and even to guest star as a traveling cow in a musical, all declined by President Taft, of course. Other stories circulated about Pauline Wayne, including a mistaken identity case that almost got her sent to the slaughterhouse as well as a purported robbery of Pauline Wayne’s milk by a visiting professor right on the White House lawn.

Two years after her arrival at the White House and at the end of President Taft’s term, Pauline’s health started to decline. She was eventually sent back to a local Wisconsin farm to live the rest of her days as a regular cow. She served the president well during those days, not only acting as a pet but as a charitable provider to the First Family.

Want to discover more interesting tips and fun FAQs about wildlife? Head on over to our Pocket Ranger Fish & Wildlife apps, and let us help you with your next wildlife viewing excursion. Find us now in the Apple Store and Google Play!

Climbing At Indian Creek, Utah

Contributed by Michael Restivo of Mike off the Map

Indian Creek Scenic View

Image: Michael Restivo

The dusty desert roads of Highway 131 meander through a sandstone landscape. Twisting through towering buttes, rusted red spires, and patches of spindly sagebrush and cacti, it comes to a stop in a sand-strewn campsite under the pinnacles of the Six Shooter Towers—the sisterly north and south columns. In the parking lot, Volkswagen minibuses and sprinter vans with half-constructed mountain bikes on the roof are home to a motley crew of climbers and adventurers who call this sprawling arid land home. Welcome to Indian Creek.

Indian Creek is divided by a series of mesas and is split by fissures that herald back to a time when all of Utah and Colorado were under a great ancient ocean. It was originally home of the Anasazi tribe, who left remnants of pottery, mud brick homes, and ornate petroglyphs on the orange walls.

In the 1970s, climbers started migrating to Southeast Utah, following the words of Edward Abbey and seeking an untamed paradise, which had been the playground of an elite few, such as Layton Kor and Eric Bjornstad. There were wild tales of buttresses over a hundred feet off the deck, split down the middle by cracks said to be just wide enough to cam a fingertip. If climbing in Yosemite was described as graceful and elegant, Indian Creek was like going to war. Brutal and often bloodying, it took climbing back to its primal roots.

Rock Climber at Indian Creek

Image: Michael Restivo

In 1976, a group of climbers out of Colorado, including Ed Webster and Earl Wiggins, drove into the Creek with only scarce knowledge of a hand crack they’d seen on a previous trip that was near perfect in symmetry and broken only by a small roof. Armed only with a rack of hexes and rudimentary nuts, Wiggins slotted his hands into the flake, twisted his foot into the crack, and stepped off to change desert climbing forever. In this era, crack climbing was on the obscure and fringe side of climbing. Nobody knew if hexes and nuts would catch the soft, crumbling sandstone if one were to fall. Not wanting to risk finding out the consequences, Wiggins led the first 100-feet of the three pitch route without stopping, gruelingly jamming his hands and using only his weight to find a secure stance where he could place another piece. Placing the anchor, he brought up Webster, and by the end of the day, the two were at the top of the buttress that was originally known as “Luxury Liner,” and then became “Supercrack” (5.10).

Crack Climber at Indian Creek

Image: Michael Restivo

After Webster and Wiggins’ groundbreaking ascent, Indian Creek became a hotbed for desert crack climbing. With the development of spring-loaded cams in the late 70s and early 80s and the publication of Bjornstad’s guidebook, climbers flooded Southeastern Utah looking for first ascents across the canyon.

Climbing at the Creek involves an average route grade of 5.10+ all the way to test pieces of 5.14. From inverted finger cracks to burly off-widths, the style of climbing is muscular and bruising, typically resulting in strands of bloody athletic tape coming off chafed hands. Still, finding rhythm in the chaos results in an elegant ascent following a pattern of precise finger and foot placements. It’s further characterized by the characters who are here all year long—from the snow-covered desert winters to the scorching summer days—and the Burning Man-like annual pilgrimage that’s known as “Creeksgiving” in November.

Like Yosemite, the history of climbing in Indian Creek is much a part of its heritage. It’s the story of counter-cultural rebels who found their way in the desert simply because they had heard of the unclimbed. There are so many cracks and walls across this spectacular landscape that many are still unnamed. There are potential pocket areas still awaiting first ascents. For those who revel in the thrill of long, exposed, scary, and burly climbing, this little corner of the Southwest is calling out.

Cuddle Up with Your Valentine at a National Park

There’s so much pressure behind Valentine’s Day. Do you go out to dinner, cook a romantic meal, or dare to try something new? Should you buy chocolates, flowers, and cute stuffed animals for your love, or is it time to toss out the conventional ideas and strive for a more heartfelt gift? Or do you ditch the holiday entirely, head out with your closest friends, and toast to your everlasting friendships? Luckily with the aid of our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, a more unique Valentine’s Day is (literally) right at your fingertips.

Holding a heart outdoors.

Fall in love with the great outdoors—you can even bring your valentine if you want! [Image: http://www.projectinspired.com/]

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Singles Awareness Day, or Galentine’s Day with your closest buddies, it can be a day well-spent in a national park. Believe it or not, there are some pretty romantic parks out there, complete with entrancing sunsets, bubbling brooks, and fireworks (metaphorically, of course).

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska

February in Alaska might be a little chilly, but that’s just all the more reason to cuddle up close to your valentine! The park is made up of more than three million acres of sweeping, jaw-dropping vistas that’ll have you wondering why you haven’t done a national park-themed holiday sooner. You can take a romantic kayak ride for two along one of the icy fjords, hold hands while whale watching, and sip on creamy hot cocoa together. Icy blue is the new pink this year.

Kayaking in Alaska.

Imagine kayaking with your love, and THIS is the backdrop. [Image: http://travel.aarp.org/]

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

It’s hard to think of places that are more stunning in the United States than the Grand Canyon. You can either go the adventurous route and try for an inner canyon hike, or you can just hug your honey and take in the sights. Either way, it’s hard to mess up a trip to the Grand Canyon, especially when you’re in good company.

The Grand Canyon.

Oh, hey, look out—you dropped your jaw there. [Image: http://utah.com/]

Zion National Park, Utah

For active couples, Zion National Park is an ideal spot to break a sweat, make lasting memories, and see breathtaking sights. Maybe you’re opting toward hiking The Narrows, one of the most popular hiking areas in the park. Or perhaps climbing the coarse sandstone cliffs is more your style. And the action doesn’t have to end after just one day—Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year, so extend your trip and camp out under the stars after a day of exciting adventuring! The pink and red sandstone be sure to get you in a romantic mood.

Zion National Park.

It may be February, but those chills you’re feeling aren’t just from the weather. [Image: http://www.zionnationalpark.com/]

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachussetts

Maybe you’re more of the “relax on the beach and let your cares melt away in the sun” type instead, making Cape Code the right place for you. You can head out on a relaxing beachy bike ride for two, hit the cute shops, and admire the glistening waves (you probably won’t want to swim unless you’re a seasoned Polar Bear Plunger, though). The tickle of salty ocean air in your nose will give you butterflies for years to come!

Cape Cod.

We’re already kicking our shoes off and reaching for our flip flops, too. [Image: http://www.afterthe9to5.com/]

Olympic National Park, Washington

The almost one million acres that make up Olympic National Park are steeped in beauty—it’s an area where you can take a deep breath and practically watch the stress fall from your shoulders. Whether you want to kiss among snow-capped mountains, take a romantic walk along the shore, or admire the flora and fauna of the temperate rainforest, you’ll find all are possible at this amazing park. It’s another site where you’ll probably want to extend your trip just to try and see everything (spoiler: a weekend probably isn’t quite enough time, but we commend the effort!).

Olympic National Park.

Temperate rainforests, sandy shorelines, and icy mountaintops—oh my! [Image: https://www.youtube.com/]

Hopefully these serve as enough motivation to try something new this Valentine’s Day! These are just a few spots where you can connect with nature as well as your loved one. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up falling in love with a national park this year, too.

Arf or Awoo? Distinguishing Wolves from Coyotes

Wolves have been the subject of conservation efforts in the United States since their alarming decline in the 1900s brought on by intensive predator control programs. Following this decline, conservation efforts were made to restore wolf populations; the Endangered Species Act (ESA), for instance, granted to wolves in 1974 helped elevate their population count in various states.

However, an accidental killing of a nursing red wolf just this past year arose concern in environmentalists while coyote hunting contests in some states stirred up more tensions between conservationists and hunters. Sparks of disagreement are clearly in the air, with one of the main stances being that some wolves might be killed during the coyote hunting contests. Therefore, this article will strive to tackle how to distinguish wolves from coyotes in the wild.

For visual reference, here is an image detailing differences between a wolf—a grey wolf, in particular—to a coyote:

A visual reference summarizing the major differences between a grey wolf and a coyote.

A visual reference summarizing the major differences between a grey wolf and a coyote. [Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

The grey wolf is the most common wolf in North America. Wolves have a variety of colors; the grey wolf, specifically, ranges from light grey to black with some cream-colored wolves, similar to Arctic wolves, among the pack as well.

A lone gray wolf happily running through a snowfield.

A lone grey wolf happily traversing through a snowy field. [Image: http://i.kinja-img.com/]

The grey wolf is the largest wolf subspecies in its family. Running up to 2.5 feet tall, it can grow to five to six feet long, with males averaging from 95–99 pounds and females 79–85 pounds. They are generally the ones found throughout North America and Eurasia. They also have a broader snout and less pointed features when compared to the red wolf.

The red wolf can also be easily confused with coyotes, seen with the recent incident involving the accidental shooting of a red wolf mistaken as a coyote. The red wolves are also commonly known as Florida wolves or Mississippi Valley wolves. They have been the subject of legal battles between nature conservancies due to their continually dwindling numbers and critically threatened conservation status.

A visual reference of the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) vs. a Coyote (Canis Latrans) showing differences between the two species.

A visual reference of the red wolf (Canis rufus) vs. a coyote (Canis Latrans), showing differences between the two species. [Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Red wolves are about 26 inches up to the shoulders, have a length of 4.5–5.5 feet long, and weigh about 50–80 pounds at maturity. They are much longer and more slender than the grey wolf, and their fur is grey-black with a reddish or tawny cast.

Red wolves.

A pack of three red wolves curiously watching their observers. [Image: http://b68389.medialib.glogster.com/

The coyotes, on the other hand, are much smaller in comparison to wolves, with body lengths averaging from 3–4.2 feet. Large coyotes are present, but rare, with the largest one recorded at 5.3 feet. Their fur color is a rich, fulvous red, usually interspersed with black, white, and light grey. It is much smaller than the grey wolf, with its defining characteristics being longer, pointier ears and a thinner frame, face, and muzzle.

A coyote is easily distinguishable through its much smaller and slender frame, long snout, and pointed ears.

A coyote is easily distinguishable through its much smaller and slender frame, long snout, and pointed ears. [Image: http://www.gpwmi.us/]

The vocalizations are also a give-away between wolves and coyotes. Wolves generally communicate through howls while coyotes communicate through yips, yaps, growls, yelps, and high-frequency whines. There isn’t much of a common ground between these two species. Wolves are pack hunters and considered to be apex predators—that is, predators that are at the top of the food chain in their habitat. Powerful muscles run through their broad bodies, like oiled machines that operate with an alpha pair and young pups. Perhaps the more common objections raised by farmers are because wolves can, at times, prey on livestock, although this happens somewhat rarely as wolves in large eat deer, boar, and caribou. Exceedingly territorial, wolves do not treat coyotes kindly, particularly when they are caught overstepping wolf boundaries or trying to take advantage of a wolf kill.

Grey wolf pack.

A beautiful grey wolf pack posing like well-versed models. These creatures are even more majestic in real life, but don’t confuse their tame appearance in this photo for a weakness—this pack will delightfully tear their prey apart if given the slightest chance! [Image: http://gb.fotolibra.com/]

At the moment, the wolves’ conservation status is still embroiled in a heated discussion on whether or not they should be kept on the endangered species list. It has been an on-and-off status battle between endangered and threatened since its first status assignment in 1974. The wolves play an important role in the ecosystem, with sufficient research finding that an introduction of wolf population regulates, and even is a cause of, declining coyote populations.

Wolves are generally aversive to humans due to a long-standing history of hunting. As such, due not only to their protected status but also to the history between wolves and humans, wolf sightings are generally uncommon except in designated wolf recovery areas. One of these more popular recovery areas is Yellowstone, which has about 95 wolves in the park alone and approximately 450 wolves in the entire Yellowstone ecosystem. If you wish to view these wondrous creatures in the wild, more information can be gathered by visiting Yellowstone’s website or the United States Fish & Wildlife’s page on wolf preservation efforts.

Don’t forget to utilize your Pocket Ranger® Rules & Regulations for related information on these wolves in your own state parks! Stay informed, and happy hunting!