Grand Teton National Park
|The antlers of this male elk echo the bare branches of the trees.|
Where to Look
Northern Jackson Lake
From Lizard Creek Campground for four miles south, Highway 89-191 follows the eastern shore of Jackson Lake. Several turnouts and two picnic areas provide vantage points for enjoying the view of the Teton Range across the lake and for wildlife watching. Along the lakeshore, aspen groves and colorful wild-flower meadows alternate with extensive conifer forests. Lush meadows attract mule deer and elk, while the lake attracts American white pelicans, Canada geese and other waterfowl.
The roads and trails in the Colter Bay area provide views of a wide array of mammals. Deer feed at the edge of conifer forests. Uinta ground squirrels flourish in dry sagebrush meadows, while red squirrels chatter incessantly from conifer forests. Alert observers catch occasional glimpses of snowshoe hares and martens in the conifer forests. Trails in the Colter Bay area lead to ponds inhabited by beavers, muskrats, waterfowl and sometimes river otters; hiking may also provide views of moose and elk.
The extensive freshwater marsh between Jackson Lake Dam and Colter Bay can be viewed from the back deck of Jackson Lake Lodge and the Willow Flats Overlook, 1/4 mile south of the lodge. Shrubby willows provide browse for moose. In evening and early morning elk graze on grasses growing in large patches among willow stands. Beavers have created ponds by damming streams through-out Willow Flats; beaver ponds also harbor muskrats and waterfowl.
A cut-off meander of the Snake River is one mile east of Jackson Lake Junction. Slow-moving water provides habitat for fish such as suckers and trout, which become food for river otters, beavers (at dawn and dusk) and musk-rats. Moose browse on abundant willows at the water's edge. Elk occasionally graze in the open aspen groves to the east.
Teton Park Road from Signal Mountain to South Jenny Lake
Extensive sagebrush flats are interspersed with stands of lodgepole pines and aspens. Pronghorn gather in small groups in the flats where they browse on sagebrush. At dawn and dusk look for elk grazing on grasses and wildflowers growing among the sagebrush. Bison occasionally may be found between Signal Mountain and North Jenny Lake Junction. Please park in turnouts or pull vehicle onto the road shoulder while watching wildlife.
A forested ridge surrounded by sagebrush lies southeast of Jenny Lake. Small bands of pronghorns, fastest North American land animal, forage on sagebrush. Elk leave the shade of the forest at dusk to eat grasses growing among the sagebrush.
From Jackson Lake Dam south, the riparian area along the Snake River attracts a variety of wildlife. Elk and bison graze in grassy meadows along the river. Bison also eat grasses in the sagebrush flats on the benches above the river. Beavers and moose eat willows that line the waterway.
This turnout is located 0.5 mile north of Moose on Highway 26-89-191. Old beaver ponds have filled in and now support grassy meadows where elk graze during cooler parts of the day. Moose browse on willows growing along the river.
Hermitage Point Trail
Beavers thrive in numerous ponds, while moose forage on succulent pond vegetation and browse on willows. Deer and elk favor open forests.
Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake Trails
Numerous elk summer in this vicinity, feeding on meadow grasses during cooler parts of the day; open forests provide refuge for elk during hot summer days. Moose browse on willows growing along the lakeshore. Mule deer, coyotes, black and grizzly bears, martens and red squirrels also frequent this area.
Cascade Canyon and Death Canyon Trails
Look and listen for pika and marmots in boulder fields along the trails. Moose browse on willows and other shrubs growing along creeks. Black bears frequent both canyons. Mule deer are occasionally seen at canyon mouths.
Taggart Lake and Beaver Creek Trails
Willows growing along Beaver Creek provide food for moose. Elk graze on lush grasses and deer browse on shrubs that proliferated since the area burned in 1985.
List of Mammals
Key to Symbols
a Abundant likely to be seen in appropriate habitat and season.
c Common frequently seen in appropriate habitat and season.
u Uncommon seen irregularly in appropriate habitat and season.
r Rare unexpected even in appropriate habitat and season.
x Accidental out of known range, or reported only once or twice.
? Questionable verification unavailable.
Abundance categories are based on the park and parkway wildlife database, research projects and observations by biologists and naturalists.
Lagomorpha (Rabbits and Hares)
Rodentia (Gnawing Mammals)
Ursidae Bear Family
c Black Bear Ursus americanus
u Grizzly Bear Ursos arctos
Canidae Dog Family
Mustelidae Weasel Family
Felidae Cat Family
Procyonidae Raccoon Family
Cervidae Deer Family
a Elk (wapiti) Cervus elaphus
c Mule Deer Odocoileus hemionus
r White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
a Moose Alces alces
Antilocapridae Pronghorn Family
Bovidae Cattle Family
Etiquette for Wildlife Observers and Photographers
- Be a responsible wildlife observer; patience is often rewarded by witnessing interesting animal behavior not influenced by human presence.
- Use binoculars, spotting scopes or long lenses for close views and photographs. Maintain a safe distance of at least 300 feet from large animals such as bears, bison, moose and elk. Do not position yourself between an adult and its offspring. Females with young are especially defensive.
- Feeding wild animals makes them dependent on people. Animals often bite the hand that feeds them. Do not feed wildlife, including ground squirrels and birds.
- Do not harass wildlife. Harassment is any human action that causes unusual behavior or change of behavior by an animal. Repeated encounters with people have cumulative results including stress and behavior changes, such as avoidance of an essential feeding area after frequent approach by people.
- For wildlife, raising young is a private affair. Nesting birds are easily disturbed. If an adult on a nest flies off at your approach, or circles you or screams in alarm, you are too close to the nest. Unattended nestlings readily succumb to predation and exposure to heat, cold and wet weather.
- Allow other visitors a chance to enjoy wildlife. If your actions cause an animal to flee, you have deprived other visitors of a viewing opportunity.
- Use animals' behavior as a guide and limit the time you spend with wildlife, just as you would when visiting a friend's home.
- Follow park regulations and policies—see the Teewinot, the park newspaper for more information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication