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Spring Wildlife Viewing in the Yellowstone Teton Territory
- Posted On
- Apr 02, 2020
- Things to Do
Activities near Yellowstone
Animals near Yellowstone
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is famous for its iconic wildlife, including bears, wolves, moose, and an array of birds. As snow starts to melt and animals have their babies, spring is a great time for wildlife viewing. Animals are typically seen at lower elevations in the spring since the snow melts there first.
Before planning a trip, take a few minutes to review wildlife safety guidelines. Spring is a time when bears are out and about, searching for food after a long winter. Bears can be out even when there is still a lot of snow on the ground, so bear safety is of crucial importance. Be sure to follow wildlife safety guidelines including never feeding a bear or letting a bear access food and keeping a safe distance of 100 yards—a full football field—away from bears and wolves (and 25 yards away from all other animals). When hiking, be vigilant, hike in groups of three or more, make plenty of noise, always carry readily accessible bear spray and know how to use it, and follow other safety recommendations. While the guidelines are issued by Yellowstone National Park, they are good rules to follow anywhere you may encounter a bear, which includes the entire region. Once you’re ready to recreate in bear country, check out a few of these favorite spots for wildlife viewing.
Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park both have incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. Yellowstone is sometimes referred to as the “North American safari” for the unparalleled opportunity to see bears, wolves, elk, moose, bison, coyotes, foxes, birds, and many other critters there.
Caribou-Targhee National Forest
On the way to Yellowstone National Park, you’ll pass through the Island Park area. There you'll find numerous campgrounds and rental cabins as well as 172 miles of hiking trails which can also be used for horseback riding, mountain biking, and other uses. Stop by the Island Park Ranger Station in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest for up-to-date information on trails and conditions.
Mesa Falls Scenic Byway
Take a drive along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway which begins in Ashton, and head toward Harriman State Park for great wildlife viewing and scenery. Be sure to stop and check out Lower and Upper Mesa Falls along the way.
Harriman State Park
Idaho’s Harriman State Park is sometimes referred to as “Little Yellowstone” for its diversity of species, providing wildlife viewing without the bumper-to-bumper crowds of the national park. The park is located inside a wildlife refuge, and features 22 miles of trails which can be used for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. One of the park’s main claims to fame is fly-fishing, and people come from around the globe to fish here. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including moose, elk, and Trumpeter swans.
Birders in particular will appreciate the local wildlife refuges, including Camas National Wildlife Refuge and Market Lake Wildlife Management Area. Camas National Wildlife Refuge is famous for its birds, ncluding waterbirds, waterfowl, and songbirds, among other species. It’s also a great place to spot other types of wildlife, including moose, elk, white-tailed deer, and porcupine. Market Lake Wildlife Management Area is a good place to see waterbirds, waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and other avian species. Spring is a time when you can see up to 150,000 ducks, 40,000 Snow geese, 1,000 tundra swans, and other migrating species.
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
In West Yellowstone, Montana, stop by the nonprofit Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to safely see bears, wolves, birds of prey, and a Karelian bear dog. The animals there were rescued and given a second chance at the center since they were not able to be released back into the wild. Some are orphaned, while others became too comfortable around humans and were removed from the wild to avoid further conflict. The center is open year-round, and the bears there do not hibernate for winter.
Yellowstone Bear World
If you can’t spot a bear in the wild, stop by Yellowstone Bear World a drive-through wildlife park near Rexburg. See elk, bison, moose, black and grizzly bears, white-tailed deer, and other animals in the park, which is open seasonally.