Yellowstone National Park is a real wilderness sanctuary. The continent’s largest and most diverse wildlife residents can be found here. Yellowstone is home to a great variety of mammals, fish, and birds, this is why it one of the best world’s recognized wildlife sanctuary. More than 300 animal species live here. Sixty-seven different mammals, including grizzly bears, mountain lions, gray wolves, black bears, elks, bison, moose, and numerous smaller mammals cohabitate in the territory known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 225 bird species, including bald eagles, cranes, ducks, osprey populations, swans, falcons, found their home in this truly wild area. Moreover, 18 different types of fish can be found throughout the lakes, rivers, and streams within and around the park. These include such fish native to Yellowstone as Arctic Grayling; Cutthroat Trout; and nonnative fish species like Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Lake Trout, and Rainbow Trout.
Yellowstone is a geologically unique area with its main lands sitting atop a geothermal spot, which provide the heat required to drive the volcanic activity and hydrothermal features, resulting in the world’s greatest concentration of geysers and hot springs. This, along with an amazing variety of wildlife species, explains such a great popularity of this area.
Wild Animals in Yellowstone
Probably, the most desirable experience each visitor to Yellowstone National Park would want, is seeing grizzly bears (from a distance, of course). Early morning and late evening is the best time to see grizzlies.
Best Places to View Bears
Grizzly bears can often be seen in Hayden and Lamar Valleys. Occasionally, they can be spotted near the Bechler River at the southwestern part of the park. Black bears are smaller than grizzlies and are more frequent in the northeastern section of the Yellowstone Park.
13 wolf packs currently inhabit Yellowstone National Park. These animals are considered to be among the most intelligent mammals in the world. No wolf is known to attack a human in Yellowstone, but you must always keep distance of at least 25 yards and treat wolves with the utmost respect. This often leads to aggressive behavior toward humans.
Best Places for Viewing Wolves
You can view wolves early in the morning or late evening near the Lamar Valley between Mammoth and Cooke City.
Elk represent the largest population of large mammals in Yelllowstone Park. If you want to see elk calves, come to visit the park in May or June. During the mating season, generaly from early September to mid-October, many visitors take advantage of photographing and watching these amazing animals. Bulls bugle to show their fitness to females and to warn their readiness to confront any challenges from other bulls. Sometimes, bulls fight for the right to access the females.
Best Places for Viewing Elk
During summer, elk can be found in the shadows of pines. In the early morning and evening the animals are most active and you have a great opportunity to see them feeding in the Lamar Valley, Gardiner and Mammoth areas.
Since prehistoric times, Yellowstone National Park has continuously been the home to free-ranging bison population. These days, more than 4,000 bison reside in Yellowstone and are the main reason of traffic jams in the park in the summer time. During mating season, in July and August, you can see bulls battling for cows. If you want to take a picture of bison calves, come to visit the park in late April or May.
Best Places to View Bison
Bison can be found everywhere throughout Yellowstone Park, but the most popular locations to spot bison are areas near the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon Rivers. You can also view the animals in the Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley near the Yellowstone River, Mud Volcano, or Fishing Bridge.
Mountain lion, often called a cougar, represents the biggest member in the cat family found in Yellowstone.
Best Places to View Mountain Lions
During the summer, mountain lions can be spotted throughout the park, but most frequently can be viewed in the northern sector of the park.
More than 400 moose found home in Yellowstone National Park. These animals are the largest member of the deer family. When in rut, bull moose can be very dangerous, thus you should keep to a safety rule of beeing at the distance of 100 yards.
Best Places to View Moose
Moose can be found in the marshy areas of the park including lake shores and along rivers. More frequently they can be spotted in the southwestern part of the park along the Bechler and Falls rivers. You can also see moose near Yellowstone Lake, the Pelican Creek, Lewis River, Soda Butte Creek, and the Willow Park areas.
Seasons in Yellowstone
Depending on the season you are visiting Yellowstone National Park, some animals are more visible than others. Summertime in the park makes the living of any of the wildlife resident pretty easy and all animals, especially the new arrivals, are enjoying their surroundings. Daily challenges are simple things like reaching together for an afternoon snack or trying to get a grip. Summer life in the park is great and vivid. But when winter arrives, the surroundings bring different challenges for the animals and Yellowstone becomes an entirely different world.
Summer is the time, when most visitors come to the park anticipating their encounter with wild residents. To view more animals, rise with the sun and head out into the park. Alternatively, you can try to search for animals late in the afternoons or early in the evenings. To hide from the sparkling sun, animals tent to lie down in the shade of a tree or in other cool places.
Spring & Fall
In spring and fall, the wildlife in Yellowstone is more active during the day. Animals migrate to lowlands during the fall, while in the spring they are more likely to be seen uphill. These seasons are often considered to be the best times for wildlife viewing.
Winter is also a good time to view wildlife; however the animals seem to be very still or hibernating. With the landing of deep snow and cold temperatures, very often it snows from the middle of November and stays up to April, May and even June in the high elevations.
While in Yellowstone National Park, always be aware that many animals may consider you an intruder to their wildlife scenery. Wild animals, especially those with the young, can be very unpredictable. Stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other animals. Use binoculars or telephoto lenses to view the surroundings safely and avoid disturbing the animals. By adhering to these rules, you can see more of the animals’ natural behavior, so respect their needs.