Yellowstone Animals – How To See The Wildlife Of Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is known for its abundance of animals so we were very excited about our visit.

The sheer amount of wildlife is stunning and we couldn’t’ believe our luck.

But how and where do you find the Yellowstone animals?

Yellowstone animals - A Female Elk

A Female Elk Out For Stroll

Yellowstone Animals Can Be Seen Right From Your Vehicle

Even if you’re not keen on hiking you’ll see wildlife from the seats of your vehicle.

Very often the animals use the roads as a way of getting around.

It sounds strange doesn’t it but it’s true.

You don’t have to go out into the middle of the wilderness to see animals up close.

We had several encounters with Buffalo herds, Elk and Bighorn Sheep who were just strolling along the roads in their own time.

Traffic jams can build when there are animals on the roads as you can’t hurry them along and have to wait for them to go at their own pace.

It’s pretty amazing to have a herd of Buffalo just walk past your car.

Yellowstone animals - A Big Male Bison

This Huge Buffalo Walked Right Past Our Car

With there being so much wildlife around, driving carefully and not too fast is very important.

Animals can jump into the road very quickly and take you by surprise especially around dusk time.

It’s best to be off the roads by sundown.

Yellowstone animals - A Pronghorn

A Pronghorn Decided To Cross The Road In Front Of Us

If You See Cars Stopped ByThe Roadside Then Take A Look

Our very first morning as we drove into the park from the East entrance we saw a group of cars stopped by the roadside and people out of their vehicles.

We stopped too and were so pleased we did.

After asking people what they could see, they pointed out a female Grizzly bear foraging for food down in the trees.

She was difficult to see without them pointing her out.

People even let us look through their powerful cameras they had set up to get a better view of her.

We soon learnt that we needed to stop wherever we saw cars stopped.

Of course, it can get funny if you just stop to look at the view and then you suddenly have loads of cars stopping and people trying to see what you’re looking at.

Yellowstone animals - Our First Grizzly

Our First Ever Grizzly Bear Sighting

Visit The Lamar Valley

The Lamar Valley is situated up in the North East area of the park and is the place to come to see lots of Yellowstone animals.

Huge herds of Buffalo roam across the valley landscape.

Elk and Pronghorn are also abundant in the area.

This is also the place to come to have a chance at spotting the Yellowstone wolves.

We didn’t see any wolves but you need to be here at sunrise or sunset for the best chances of seeing them.

There are also bears in the area although we saw bears in other areas of the park.

Yellowstone animals - Buffalo Herds In The Lamar Valley

Buffalo Herds In The Lamar Valley

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For Animals

You’ll see the obvious wildlife wandering along the roads etc but some of the animals are a lot shyer so you need to keep an eye out for them.

You can often be driving or walking right past Yellowstone animals without even knowing it.

They are really good at blending into the landscape so you need to be alert and eagle-eyed.

On a few occasions, we saw deer back in the trees and of course, we saw Grizzly bears.

If you have children, they will love trying to spot animals.

Make sure you have either binoculars or a spotting scope with you as some of the more elusive animals may a distance away from you.

Yellowstone animals - Another Grizzly Bear Sighting

Our Second Grizzly Bear Sighting

What Yellowstone Animals Will You See?

Any wildlife sightings are a matter of luck.

Being in the right place at the right time is crucial.

We felt we had been very lucky in seeing the amount of wildlife that we did but then we didn’t see wolves or black bears.

Just enjoy your time there, be vigilant and hopefully, you’ll come up trumps.

Remember to give wildlife space and keep your distance.

A lot of these animals are dangerous if approached or aggravated in any way.

Bears

Yellowstone is in bear country and we visited in September when they are furiously feeding to get ready for their Winter hibernation.

There are two types of bear, the Black Bear and the Brown or Grizzly Bear.

We really wanted to see Grizzly’s so we were over the moon when we saw one on our first morning in the park.

If a Grizzly is in an area the park rangers will come and make sure people keep their distance etc

Amazingly we went on to see two more grizzlies during our three-day visit.

Here’s our post about spotting Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

Yellowstone animals - A Huge Male Grizzly

We Saw This Huge Male Grizzly As He Chased A Female Bear Across The Road

Elk

Elk are all over the park and we even saw a herd of them in the centre of the village of Mammoth Hot Springs.

They are much bigger animals than we thought and the males are huge.

Our visit was during the rutting season so the males were particularly noisy making bugling sounds to attract females and establish dominance.

Yellowstone animals - A Bull Elk

A Bull Elk Close To His Herd

Yellowstone animals - A Female Elk

A Female Elk Chillaxing By The River

Pronghorn

We’d never heard of Pronghorn before and the first time we saw them we thought they were a type of antelope but it turns out they are more closely related to the giraffe than anything else.

We also learnt that they are the second fastest animals on the planet.

You’ll see them mostly in groups around the park.

Yellowstone animals - A pronghorn

A Pronghorn In The Grasslands

Big Horn Sheep

These guys don’t look like sheep as we know them but more like mountain goats with their huge horns.

We met a group of them just wandering along the road one day, not a care in the world as they walked past us.

We had to ask someone what they were as we’d never seen them before.

Yellowstone animals - Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep Out For A Trot Along The Road

Wolves

Wolves would have been amazing to see but unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough.

You could get lucky and spot them but I think it can be quite a challenge and take some planning.

The best places to spot them ( I’ve read )  is in the Lamar Valley either very early morning or in the evening at dusk.

You can also go on specialized guided Wolf watching trips.

Tips For Wildlife Viewing

1 – Obvious really but please keep your distance from the wildlife.

It can be tempting to get closer for a great photo but you don’t want that photo to be your last.

2 – Make sure you have a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope with you for viewing wildlife at a distance.

3 – Drive slowly as animals can appear from nowhere and run into the road.

4 – Take your time and keep your eyes open for elusive wildlife.

5 – If you see lots of cars parked by the side of the road, it probably means there is some wildlife to see.

6 – Drive through the Lamar Valley at least once to see the herds of Bison.

7 – If you’re hiking then you probably need to carry bear spray which you can rent at several of the visitor centres.

Yellowstone animals - Elk At Mammoth

A Big Herd Of Elk At Mammoth Hot Springs