Wildlife in Yellowstone
Yellowstone Wildlife

Yellowstone Wildlife

Visitors to Yellowstone usually don't have very far to travel before experiencing the parks abundant wildlife. Many of the larger mammals like bison and elk can usually be seen from the roads near Mammoth Hot Springs and especially along the 14 mile stretch of road that leads from West Yellowstone to Madison Junction. While the presence of some animals is much more apparent, there are other species like wolves and grizzly bears that will often be much harder to find. During the summer months you'll improve your chances of seeing wildlife if you start before sunrise/sunset and arrive at your destination at dawn/dusk. Animals are generally much more active in the cooler hours of the day but will usually be harder to find during the hotter parts of the day when they are bedded down.

The areas listed on the map below are great places to look for wildlife in Yellowstone. These locations tend to be large open valleys where access to food and water is most plentiful. Bring along a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope so you can get a closer look without disturbing their natural habitat. Remember, even though these animals may appear cute and cuddly they will attack humans and can inflict severe wounds if they feel threatened, especially those animals with newborns or young. Keep your distance and obey the following park regulations.

• Do not feed wildlife. Feeding animals alters their natural behavior.
• Remain 100 yards from all bears especially those with cubs.
• Remain 25 yards from larger mammals like moose, bison, elk and deer.
• Avoid close encounters with animals and their newborn offspring.
• Do not chase or intentionally disturb animals.

Here are a few tips for observing wildlife in the park. With a little patience and a little luck you may witness some very rare behaviors as these animals go about their daily lives — playing or even hunting.

1. Keep your distance and try to stay downwind if possible. Animals have a keen sense of smell and it's often their first defense against other predators.

2. Visit areas in the early morning or late evening when animals are most active. The Lamar Valley located in the northeast section of the park and the Hayden Valley south of Canyon are some of the best locations to see wildlife and in these places you may have a rare opportunity to see the elusive wolf or grizzly bear.

3. Speak softly and limit your movements. If you're sitting in your car turn off the engine. If you're outdoors try to remain as still as possible. Bring a comfortable chair and blankets or extra clothing to keep yourself warm. Even during the summer the temperature in Yellowstone can fall below freezing and at dawn it may be very cold.

4. Carry high-powered optics to help you see farther. That small brown spec on the horizon may be a grizzly bear or a bison and without the aid of binoculars or a spotting scope it will be impossible to tell them apart.

5. Bring a field guide to help you identify different species of wildlife.

To see some outstanding wildlife photography visit our local photographers page. These photographers spend a great deal of time in Yellowstone and it's evident by the photos they've captured.

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