14 Mar Where’s the best place to view Yellowstone National Park winter wildlife?
Our vote is Lamar Valley wildlife excursion
When the alarm clock sounded at 5 a.m. that first morning in Yellowstone National Park, we wondered why the heck we had booked an early morning Lamar Valley wildlife excursion. We dragged ourselves out of bed, bundled up for the frigid morning and arrived at our meeting place before the sun was up.
Our destination was Lamar Valley in the park’s Northern Range. Its grassy valleys receive less snow than other parts of Yellowstone, making it easier for animals to graze. Animals that spread out among the park’s 3,000 square miles of mountains and ridges other times of the year are concentrated in the valley areas for winter. The result: Lamar Valley is one of the best winter viewing areas for wildlife in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley wolves
Some 100 wolves live in Yellowstone, so spotting one is rare. Our guide had intel where a wolf pack had been sighted the day before so our hopes were high and we weren’t disappointed. Through the lens of spotting scopes we watched a pack of wolves run and play along a river with the fascination of a child. We also spotted coyote and fox that morning – completing what they call in Yellowstone a “three dog day”.
We watched bison walk single file through fields of snow; saw bighorn sheep delicately walk down a rock face to graze on some tasty grass; watched as a fox listened for rodents under 2 feet of snow and then sprang into the air and did a headstand to snare its breakfast; saw elk and moose and trumpeter swans. By the time we returned to Mammoth Hot Springs for lunch our cameras had hundreds of amazing photos and our minds were spinning with the majesty of what we had seen.
We booked our tour through Xanterra, a travel company who runs the winter hotels within the park and provides tours and transportation under license from the National Park Service. They are first rate and we highly recommend you booking with them.
Information updated for 2020.