How to Spot Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park attracts photographers, nature enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers from around the world with its spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife, including the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48.
Here, you can expect to see some 300 species of birds, 16 species of fish, six species of reptiles, five species of amphibians, and 67 species of mammals. Then there are the large mammals, a highlight for many—common sightings include black and grizzly bears, wolves, bighorn sheep, bison, moose, elk, and mountain goats.
Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your wildlife-spotting adventure in Yellowstone, from top tours to top tips.
1. Combine waterfalls and wildlife on a naturalist-led tour
Visit many of the top spots in Yellowstone National Park on this full-day, small-group tour which visits Old Faithful and more in the company of a naturalist guide. While you’re there, expect to see bison, elk, bears, wolves, and more.
2. Do a lap of Yellowstone’s Lower Loop
One of the best wildlife-watching destinations in Yellowstone, the Lower Loop is a top spot to look out for grizzly bears, elk, moose, and even eagles. On this tour from Jackson Hole, you’ll also benefit from entry fees, meals, and round-trip transportation for ease.
3. Enjoy an all-round Yellowstone National Park experience
Tour the top attractions within Yellowstone National Park in just one day from Jackson Hole. Marvel over the geysers, canyons, waterfalls, and—of course—wildlife, including bison and wolves. Plus, stop by Old Faithful and Lake Hotel.
4. Combine the Upper and Lower Loops over two days
Make the most of your visit to Yellowstone by bringing together two of the top places to see wildlife in the park—the Upper and Lower Loops—on a 2-day tour. With more time to explore, expect to see more wildlife than you would on a day trip, plus enjoy an overnight stay in the park.
5. Take a private tour of America’s oldest national park
In the company of guides who are experts in wildlife biology and natural sciences, enjoy a private excursion through Yellowstone National Park. Cover plenty of ground in a comfortable Chevy, get the chance to see more wildlife than you could on foot, and benefit from off-the-beaten-path hikes to escape the crowds.
6. Make wildlife photography a focus in Yellowstone
On this customizable, full-day wildlife and photography experience, enjoy the benefits of well-informed guides to stand the best chance of snapping some awesome wildlife shots—whether you’re a pro or an amateur. Snacks and lunch are provided as a bonus.
7. Explore with a naturalist guide
Approach Yellowstone from the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway before spending the day in the company of a naturalist guide. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, grizzlies, bighorn sheep, and more. Plus, benefit from photography advice to help you get the best pictures.
8. Combine Yellowstone and Grand Teton in one day
Departing from Jackson, see both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in just one day and make the most of both parks’ highlights. On this personalizable safari experience, expect to see plenty of wildlife, as well as top attractions such as Hayden Valley, home to grazing bison.
9. Look out for bears and wolves on a private safari
Focused entirely on wildlife spotting, this tour takes you to the best places in the park to see creatures such as wolves, bison, mountain goats, river otters, and more. Centered around the Northern Loop, expect to stop by Hayden or Lamar Valley and beyond.
10. Center your visit on Lamar Valley
Take a hike to Lamar Valley, one of the best places in Yellowstone to see a variety of wildlife such as wolves and other lesser-spotted, elusive animals. A particular plus of this tour is that the hikes take you away from the road, and therefore mean you’re more likely to spot wildlife as you explore.
11. Enjoy a private wildlife safari with lunch included
Make the most of your guide’s ecological education as you take a private tour of the park. Focused on Yellowstone’s northern range, this tour is all about spotting bison herds, wolf packs, and more in just one day. You can also expect to enjoy beginner-friendly hikes and enjoy lunch.
12. Spot wildlife in Grand Teton and Yellowstone
Departing from Jackson Hole, this private tour allows you to spot everything from moose, bears, and antelope to osprey, herons, and eagles. Ideal for those short on time, you’ll also get to see some of the top sights in both parks, including the Tetons.
Top tips for wildlife-watching in Yellowstone
Avoid making any rookie mistakes.
Go early or late: Animals tend to be feeding and easier to spot in the early morning and evening hours.
Bring binoculars: Get a clear view without disturbing the wildlife. A long lens camera also works!
Stop by a visitor center: Ask about recent sightings and get tips on where to look.
Stay alert: Wild animals might show up anywhere in the park, even away from the typical hot spots.
Keep quiet and still: Loud noises and sudden movements can spook wildlife.
Consider the season: Explore geothermal basins in winter, for example, when their warmth attracts animals.
Explore more Yellowstone wildlife-watching experiences