Yellowstone National Park consists of over 2 million acres and most of those are full of wildlife. Common wildlife sitings at Yellowstone include bison, elk, moose, bear, wolf, fox, and more! In fact, it’s one of the many reasons travelers like to visit this beautiful national park.
Our family had an amazing time seeing all sorts of animals in their natural surroundings. If you’re hoping to be lucky enough to do the same, I’ve got some tips that might help you spot some of the wildlife we experienced in Yellowstone.
- Safety first! Remember, these are wild animals. Stay in your car and a safe distance away. Stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from other large mammals like bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes.
- Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley have a ton of wildlife and they are also a beautiful drive. Hayden Valley is on the Grand Loop and is a little easier to drive through if you are not venturing to the northern part of the park.
- Don’t stop in the middle of the road! The park has pullouts for you to pullover and stop.
- Watch for cars in the pullouts! If you see many cars stopped, it is a great indicator that there is an animal nearby to view. If you are out looking for animals, this is a good way to get your feet wet, just pull over when you see others do it.
- Bring binoculars! Some of the animals are very far away, but binoculars let you see them up close, like this wolf we got to view. It was truly amazing!
- NEVER FEED THE WILDLIFE! I feel like this is common sense, but still needs to be said. It is bad for everyone involved, so just be responsible and don’t do it.
- Bring a camera with a zoom lens. A good camera with a telephoto lens will help you get great shots of animals far away. Also, the optical zoom on better cameras and lenses will bring so much more detail into focus than the digital zoom on your smart phone!
- Have patience! I promise you will see wildlife. We saw 3 female moose with a baby moose in the first 15 minutes of being inside the gates of Yellowstone. Shortly after that we saw the wolf. Each day we saw lots of wildlife. In Hayden Valley we saw lots of bison and Elk. We went at the end of June and there were so many young small bison in Hayden Valley with the herds.
- Look for animals away from the herd. The bison aren’t always in groups. We saw one by itself several times in the Old Faithful area and one in the Lake Village area hanging out near the general store.
- Be careful while driving. We saw a red fox and it all of a sudden darted across the road almost getting hit by another car. Bison are also often hanging out on or near the roads. Keep the animals and yourself safe while driving responsibly.
My whole family agreed that driving around and seeing the wildlife at Yellowstone National Park was the favorite part of our trip. You can’t see animals in their natural surroundings like this at a zoo. Because of the large size of Yellowstone we stayed at a different hotel each night and this helped us explore a different part of the park each day. It was one of our favorite family vacations to date.
Emelia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and 7 year old daughter. Traveling is one of Emelia’s passions and has been taking her daughter along for the ride since she was a baby. Emelia loves to see new places and one of her favorite ways to do it is by running half and full marathons around the world. You can find her blog with all her adventures at Half Crazy Mama.