Yellowstone National Park

Wildlife Viewing
American white pelican in Yellowstone National Park
American white pelican in Yellowstone National Park (Stockbyte/Getty)

Elk, moose, deer, bison, antelope, bear, and coyote are abundant in Yellowstone, but they are not found everywhere. Like people, they prefer to live in special places at certain times. Throughout the park they wander freely. (Keep in mind that caution must be exercised: View bear, bison, and other dangerous animals from a safe distance, and never feed wild animals.)

Your own chances of seeing wildlife will increase if you adapt your schedule to theirs. Many a meadow is dotted with elk at dawn but empty when the sun beats down and insects force the animals into protective cover. In evening the elk again make their appearance.

Coyotes may hunt mice along the roadside when traffic is sparse, and waterfowl parade their young at dawn; but those and other shy creatures take cover as human activity increases. Moose may be seen most any time of the day, especially in the wetlands.

Bison generally leave the more visited sections of the park for higher elevations by early June. A few older animals remain at lower elevations throughout the year. As a rule, the best seasons for wildlife observations are spring and autumn. Some favorite summer viewing areas are as follows:

The Hayden Valley between Fishing Bridge and Canyon, and Pelican Creek east of Fishing Bridge are prime moose territory. Waterfowl and gulls frequent the Yellowstone River in this valley.

The Lamar Valley in the northeast section of the park is good territory for seeing elk, bison, moose, and pronghorn and bighorn sheep, especially during the winter months. Look for bighorn sheep on the cliffs between Mammoth and Gardiner, Montana.

North Entrance Pronghorn may be sighted in the sagebrush flats here.


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