Yellowstone’s abundant and diverse wildlife are as famous as its geysers. Habitat preferences and seasonal cycles of movement determine, in a general sense, where a particular animal may be at a particular time. Early morning and evening hours are when animals tend to be feeding and thus are more easily seen. But remember that the numbers and variety of animals you see are largely a matter of luck and coincidence.

Wild animals, especially females with young, are unpredictable. Keep a safe distance from all wildlife. Each year a number of park visitors are injured by wildlife when approaching too closely. Approaching on foot within 100 yards (91 m) of bears or within 25 yards (23 m) of other wildlife is prohibited. Please use roadside pullouts when viewing wildlife. Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for safe viewing and to avoid disturbing them. By being sensitive to its needs, you will see more of an animal’s natural behavior and activity. If you cause an animal to move, you are too close!

It would be unusual to visit Yellowstone without seeing wildlife. So that you will have the best chance of seeing the wildlife that you wish to see, we provide a map for locating different types of wildlife. These are certainly not the only areas where you will find these animals, but these are the areas where the different types of wildlife have been the most prevalent in recent years.

Bighorn Sheep are most often seen north of Mammoth Hot Springs but have also been seen frequently in the Lamar Valley, on the northeast entrance road in the same area as the wolves.

Black Bear are best seen in the Tower/Roosevelt area between May and June.

Buffalo can be seen in many areas of the Park. They are almost always in the Lamar Valley and Hayden valley.

Elk are abundant throughout the Park.

Grizzlies are more difficult to find since the death of Bear 264 in 2003.

Moose sightings are not common. They are best viewed in the Jackson Hole area.

Mountain Goats have only recently moved into the Park and can be seen at Barronette Peak.

Wolves are commonly seen in the Lamar Valley and have been often sighted on Swan Lake Flats.

Although you will see animals in almost all the places in Yellowstone, the two best places to watch animals are Hayden valley and Larmar Valley.

Hayden Valley (between Canyon and Lake Area see map ): The Hayden Valley was once filled by an arm of Yellowstone Lake. Therefore, it contains fine-grained lake sediments that are now covered with glacial till left from the most recent glacial retreat 13,000 years ago. Because the glacial till contains many different grain sizes, including clay and a thin layer of lake sediments, water cannot percolate readily into the ground. This is why the Hayden Valley is marshy and has little encroachment of trees.

This is one of the best places in the park to view a wide variety of wildlife. It is an excellent place to look for grizzly bears, particularly in the spring and early summer when they may be preying upon newborn bison and elk calves. Large herds of bison may be viewed in the spring, early summer, and during the fall rut, which usually begins late July to early August. Coyotes can almost always be seen in the valley.

Bird life is abundant in and along the river. A variety of shore birds may be seen in the mud flats at Alum Creek. A pair of sandhill cranes usually nests at the south end of the valley. Ducks, geese, and American white pelicans cruise the river. The valley is also an excellent place to look for bald eagles and northern harriers.

Lamar Valley: Lamar Valley is home to herds of elk, bison, and several packs of wolves, making it Yellowstone National Park’s prime location to view wildlife. Lamar Valley yields a breathtaking wide-open landscape scattered with ponds and large boulders. Its saturation in natural beauty and wondrous opportunity make Lamar Valley as attractive to tourists as it is to wildlife.

Whatever time of year you choose to visit Lamar Valley, a spectrum of wildlife will be abundant. In the summers, expect to see quietly grazing elk, bison, and mule deer. Of the predators, coyote are numerous. After their reintroduction, wolves have also been seen here. Although rare, visitors have reported seeing wolves take down an elk. Lamar Valley is also one of the best places in the park to watch for grizzly bears. In the spring time, Lamar Valley rewards visitors with precious sightings of infant bison and elk. In the winter, the valley is the main winter range for the elk and bison herds of northern Yellowstone. Wildlife can be seen either from a car or from a trail. If you do not wish to explore the wilds of Lamar Valley on your own, there are several guided excisions available.

The Lamar River attracts anglers of all levels to Lamar Valley. The Lamar River originates high in the Absaroka-Beartooth range and is home to cutthroat and rainbow trout. The average size trout found in the Lamar River is 12 inches, although to pull in a 16 incher is not rare. Because the river is fed by melting mountain snow, is is usually running high and murky. The best time to fish the Lamar River is when the run-off subsides between late-June and late-July. The best flies for the Lamar River are large imitations of grasshoppers and crickets. Access to the river is a short easy walk from the road, and although it is a popular fly-fishing spot, seclusion is not hard to find

To get to Lamar Valley, drive through the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is the least frequented entrance, making Lamar Valley a welcomed respite from the hoards of tourists in the other areas of the park. Lamar Valley is east of Tower Junction.

Below is some of the animal encounters we had during our rescent vacation in Yellowstone.

RavenGrizzly BearPelican 

Elk near cabinHayden Valley BisonDeers 

Deers - Mammoth springsBlack Bear - CantonBear cubs - Canyon 

BisonBison FamilyBison Jam

 Bison on road

Glimpses of Hayden valley:

Hayden valley is one of the most beautiful places in Yellowstone. You are sure to see huge gathering of bisons and also don’t be surprised if you happen to be caught in a different kind of traffic jam- Bison Jam. Here, in the park, Bisons always have the right of way!. Also one of the most interesting thing we saw was how these bisond cross yellowstone river. We never imagined that can be in sucha orderly manner. As you can see in the first snap below, these animals line themselves on the river bank and cross the river one by one!.

Bison river crossingHayden valley - BisonHayden valley

Hayden valleyHayden valleyHayden valley 

Elk near Canyon Hayden valleyHayden valley  

Hayden valleyHayden valleyHayden valley

Glimpses of Lamar Valley:

If you want to enjoy the beauty of this prestine place, plan your visit early in the morning. That also happens to be the best time to watch lot of animals. Even dawn is also good to watch animals, but can be bit crowded. We visited this place at 5:30 am. The fog was still in the air and the surrounding was just beautiful with the rising sun. Also since this is the time animal experts come out to observer, you might even get a glimpse of grizly or wolves in their powerful monoculars. We did see a hugy grizzy wandering out in the distant meadow, thanks to one of the park ranger. Also it is so refreshing to take a walk in the prestine valley full of blooming flowers. Just out of this world experience!. Note: Just be there early in the morning!.

Lamar valleyLamar valleyLamar valley

Lamar valleyDeersLamar valley

Lamar valleyRising sun


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