Wolf Watching in Yellowstone
Most of the time, seeing a wolf in person is not necessarily a good thing. Rare, for sure, but still a cause for concern. One of the best exceptions to this rule - and one of the greatest reasons for visiting Wyoming in the winter - is wolf watching in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is home to many different wolf packs. Through the years, their dens and habits have been well-documented. As a result, it’s fairly easy to drive to specific parts of the park in order to view them. Learn more about the basics of wolf watching in Yellowstone below!
When to Visit
For the most part, wolf watching can be enjoyed just about any time of year. That doesn’t mean that you’re always guaranteed to see wolves in the park, though. Like many other animals, wolves tend to move from specific area to another during different parts of the year. Their migratory habits are largely influenced by elk activities. After all, their main source of food is the elk. If you visit Yellowstone during any time of year and expect to see plenty of wolves, you’re bound to leave quite disappointed.
Those in the know tend to visit Yellowstone during the winter in order to get the most out of their wolf watching experience. Wolf packs tend to stay put for the longest periods of time during the winter. The heavy snowfalls that occur between November and March form the perfect backdrop for premium wolf watching. Against a palette of white snow, wolves tend to stand out a whole lot more easily. In turn, spotting them is a lot simpler. There’s a definite trade-off for visiting during prime wolf watching season, though - temps can drop down as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Bundling up, then, is key.
Where to Go
Yellowstone is truly enormous; in fact, the weather in one corner of the park can be drastically different than the weather in another part. Needless to say, then, it pays to know where to look when it comes to prime wolf watching. Most people agree that, when it comes to wolf watching in Yellowstone, the Lamar Valley is the premium choice. The valley, which is located in the northeast section of the park, is the home of the Druid wolf pack; many other packs visit, too.
What makes the Lamar Valley such a prime wolf viewing spot? The fact that it’s large and wide open definitely helps. Although huge crowds are rare, the fact that the valley is so sprawling helps make it easy for everyone to get a view. There are also plenty of places nearby where you can stay; this is important, since dusk and dawn are prime wolf watching times of day. Try camping at the Slough Creek campground or the Pebble Creek campground; if possible, stay at the Roosevelt Lodge. Either way, being close to Lamar Valley is definitely smart if you are serious about your wolf spotting quest.
Things to Keep in Mind
In addition to knowing when and where to go, it’s smart to study up about the etiquette that should be used when watching wolves in Yellowstone. Wolves can be spooked by loud noises, so you should always shut off your car engine as soon as you park - don’t sit there with the engine running, even if you’re trying to run the heat. The noise could scare away the wolves; your fellow wolf watchers will not take kindly to that! If you have kids with you, make sure that they stay quiet at all times.
Wolves are wild animals. Even though many of the wolves at Yellowstone are fairly used to seeing people, it doesn’t mean that they can’t - or won’t - attack when provoked. Be respectful of these amazing creatures during your visit in order to steer clear of trouble. In the end, your wolf watching mission is sure to go off without a serious hitch of any kind. Who knows - you might even luck out and see a group of ten or more wolves at once! Even if you only see a few here and there, though, there’s no denying the power and majesty of these remarkable animals.