Guide for Seeing the Animals in Yellowstone National Park
More often than not, most people will come into one of the greatest national parks with the hopes of spotting some of the best animals and will completely miss them. Knowing where to be, how to see them, and when to see them will be your greatest tools for the highest chances of seeing the animals in Yellowstone National Park.
Lucky for me, my in-laws are animal and nature experts. When we were in Yellowstone we got to see the grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, eagles, elk, deer, antelope, bison, and more. If it wasn’t for some basic understanding of the animals, we would of never have been able to see these animals. So after having a successful trip to the park, I though I would share my guide for seeing the animals in Yellowstone National Park.
How to see them:
First off, proper opticals will be your best friend for spotting animals. You’ll see tons of professionals who have the spotting scopes who are able to see close details thousands and thousands of feet away. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, most people will let you have a look into their scope (though don't count on it). You will need at the very least a proper set of binoculars — a pair like these would work.
Patience will be key for seeing the animals as often you’ll have to wait out a bit for animals to appear. I suggest packing your meals, blankets, and chairs for when you’re waiting for the animals to appear.
When to see them:
Dusk and dawn are your best friends. Typically the animals like wolves and bears will be out at this point during the day either out looking for feed or moving across the lands. For dawn, it is best to arrive right before daylight right when it is dark and for dusk, arrive 1-2 hours before sunset. During the mid-day it will be easy to spot the bison, elk, some deer, and antelope so do not worry, just keep your eyes out — you may also see some bears too out in the fields. For the time of year, May and June is incredible as many of the animals have had their young. It’s not rare to see bear cubs, bison calves, and young elk.
Where to see them:
+ Grizzlies/Black Bears: often during the day, they can be found throughout Hayden Valley, Lamar Valley, Roosevelt, and towards Mammoth Hot Springs.
+ Elk/Deer/Antelope: the Elk are thick through Hayden Valley, but generally can be found most places. Antelope are thick between Roosevelt and Lamar Valley. Deer are a bit more shy, but can be found throughout the park as well.
+ Bison: just about everywhere
+ Wolves: Lamar Valley at dawn and dusk and Hayden Valley at dusk. The Wolf Project crew is often spotted out early at daybreak in Lamar Valley with their radars waiting to hear if the wolves are coming through. If you see someone holding a radar out, checkin with them and they can point you in the right direction.
+ Foxes: throughout the park, during dawn/dusk.
+ Eagles/Fowl: When near a river or lake, keep your eyes peeled on the treetops for eagles. Often they can be found perched along the water.
+ Bighorn Sheep: high, rocky places and often near the bridge from Roosevelt heading to Lamar Valley
+ Badgers/Porcupines: typically found in backcountry, these creatures are rarely, often seen. Sometimes at night can be seen crossing the road.
1. If you see a crowd, pull over. Chances are they have found something worth looking at.
2. If you don’t have a scope, hang near someone who has a scope.
3. Be safe, remember these are wild animals, deaths and accidents happen when people are not safe and approach — this is not a petting zoo. This is bear country, and you should at all times have bear spray on you.
Most importantly, remember to enjoy these incredible creatures.