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Spotting Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park

Known for dense populations of wildlife, Yellowstone National Park boasts a plethora of prime wildlife viewing spots, each offering its own unique opportunities to observe the park's diverse fauna.

Bear crossing the valley in Yellowstone National Park

Best Wildlife Viewing Spots in Yellowstone

  1. Lamar Valley: Known as the "Serengeti of North America," Lamar Valley is a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts. Here, you'll have the chance to spot iconic species such as bison, wolves, elk, and even grizzly bears. Be sure to bring binoculars and arrive early in the morning or late in the evening for the best chances of sightings.

  2. Hayden Valley: Situated along the Yellowstone River, Hayden Valley is another top destination for wildlife viewing. Keep your eyes peeled for bison herds grazing in the meadows, as well as bald eagles soaring overhead. Don't forget to scan the riverbanks for otters and beavers, especially during the dawn and dusk hours.

  3. Yellowstone Lake: The largest high-altitude lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake is teeming with aquatic life. Take a scenic boat tour or hike along the shoreline to spot river otters, trumpeter swans, and possibly even a diving osprey. For the best chances of wildlife sightings, visit in the early morning when the lake is calm and wildlife is most active.

Top Wildlife Species to Look Out For in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is home to an impressive array of wildlife species, ranging from large mammals to elusive birds. Here are some of the iconic creatures you might encounter during your visit:

Bald Eagle in Yellowstone National Park
  1. Grizzly Bears: The ultimate symbol of the American West, grizzly bears can be found throughout Yellowstone, particularly in the remote backcountry areas. Keep a safe distance and never approach or feed these powerful animals.

  2. Gray Wolves: Yellowstone is one of the few places in the Lower 48 where you can see wild wolves in their natural habitat. Join a guided wolf-watching tour or head to Lamar Valley at dawn or dusk for your best chance of spotting a wolf pack on the hunt.

  3. Bison: As the largest land mammal in North America, bison are a common sight in Yellowstone's grassy meadows and open plains. Be sure to give these majestic creatures plenty of space and never attempt to approach or interact with them.

  4. Elk: With their distinctive bugling calls and impressive antlers, elk are a popular sight in Yellowstone, especially during the fall rutting season. Look for them grazing in meadows or lounging near rivers and streams.

  5. Bald Eagles: Keep an eye on the skies for the iconic silhouette of a bald eagle soaring overhead. These majestic birds of prey can often be seen hunting for fish along the park's rivers and lakeshores.

Wildlife Spotting Tips and Tricks

While we listed a couple of our favorite spots for viewing wildlife - you never really know where you might come across a cool critter in Yellowstone. Because of that, it is important to be diligent when searching while you drive around.

Wolf eating from an animal carcass in Yellowstone National Park

Log bears

After a while, your mind might start playing tricks on you. Is that a bear or a log? Maybe a big rock? At Yellowstone Day Tours, our guides are adamantly looking for wildlife so our clients won't miss a thing; and even our veteran guides with 20-30 years of experience mistake logs, rocks, and other inaminate objects for wildlife.... and it even happens the other way around. Just when you think it's just a brown patch out in the distance, it starts to move and we all get to see a grizzly bear. So with that, if it looks like an animal, double-check and look at it closely!


If there are cameras and binoculars pointed out in the distance, take a look in that direction!


As with most wildlife, your best chances for viewing are early in the morning or right

around sunset. This is especially true in the warmer months, as animals will hunker down in shady spots during the heat of the day.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park

In summary, Yellowstone National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Whether you're hoping to glimpse a grizzly bear in Lamar Valley or spot a bald eagle over Yellowstone Lake, the park offers endless opportunities for unforgettable encounters with nature. Follow our tips to make the most of your visit while respecting the park's wildlife and beauty. Happy spotting!

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