Let's continue exploring the Rocky Mountains, shall we? At 8000 feet up, spring comes much later than it does in Ohio. It was awesome to be there in late June but to see many "spring" wildflowers. Perhaps the flower I photographed the most was the mountain goldenbanner, a member of the pea family. It was everywhere in meadows at lower elevations. At the time, I wondered why this species was so prevalent even though the park has a large elk population that has grazed many areas to the point where they need to be fenced off to exclude the elk. After a little research tonight, however, I learned that several members of the genus Thermopsis, including this species, contain toxic alkaloids. The elk don't touch it.
I'm almost ready to wrap up looking back on the rocky mountains. Look for a roundup of the various animal species that we encountered that I haven't yet shown this weekend.
During July 2011, I'm writing about my late June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope you enjoy this brief swing to the western U.S.