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Yellowstone Wolf Watching Tips

Updated on July 11, 2011
Photo by Direct Dish
Photo by Direct Dish

Seeing wild wolves is one of the most extraordinary experiences you can imagine and following the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, seeing these shy and elusive animals has become easier than ever before. Here are some tips for making your wolf watching trip a successful one.

Be Safe

In Yellowstone, leaving trails, roads, and other man-made paths can not only cause ecological damage, it can also be incredibly dangerous to your safety. In many areas of Yellowstone, there is only a thin crust of earth covering geothermal pools and other features. Visitors have fallen through the crust and been seriously burned or killed by boiling water or steam under the surface.

Always view wolves and other wildlife from trails, parking pullouts, and other safe places. Do not obstruct traffic by stopping in the middle of the road; drive to the nearest pullout and walk back, or pull over onto the road shoulder.

Keep Your Distance

Wolves who have become habituated to humans are far more likely to be hit by cars or to attack livestock, pets, or even humans. Never deliberately get close enough to a wolf to make it change its behavior and focus on you, and never EVER feed a wild wolf.

Keep Quiet

Whistling, calling, or shouting at wolves to get them to "do something" is prohibited. Wolves at den sites are especially sensitive to human noises and disturbance.

Mimicking wolf howls is illegal within the park.

Educate Others

If you see others feeding, disturbing, or otherwise endangering wildlife, politely ask them to stop. Sometimes simply letting them know that their behavior is disturbing or endangering the wolves is enough to get them to stop.

Report serious violations to park rangers, taking pictures if necessary to document the worst offenses.

In the Valley of the Wolves

How to Find Wolves

The best wolf viewing tends to be found in the Lamar Valley in the Northeastern corner of the park, at dawn and dusk. However, wolves may be spotted at any time in any part of the park. Keep an eye out for gatherings of people, especially groups with large numbers of cameras and spotting scopes. There are many professional and amateur wolf watchers who are out spotting every day. Also keep an eye out for rangers with radio tracking equipment, who might be tracking the movements of the wolves.

Patience is important, and not everyone who wants to will see a wolf. However, you can improve your chances by consulting with rangers about the best current spots, and the regular wolf watchers are also, in my experience, an extremely knowledgeable and friendly crowd who will be happy to give newbies tips, provided you respect the rules and etiquette of the park.

To improve your chances, you can even go on a guided wolf tour. These are often led by rangers or biologists, who will share information about wolf biology and ecology as well as leading you to places where wolf spottings are especially likely.The Yellowstone Association even offers field seminars and other courses.


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      TeeJay 6 years ago

      I've been to Yellowstone twice (August of 2008 and 2010) and were able to see and watch wolves both times. Saw the Druid pack and the Mollies in '08, saw the Canyon pack with their pups in 2010. Also got to hear the Canyon's howl, which was amazing.

      I also got to see 3 of the Canyon wolves cross the road about 50 feet away. The rangers stopped traffic so they could cross and they never seemed disturbed by humans. I am going back for 2 weeks in June/July of 2012 and can't wait to see more wildlife, especially wolves!

    • xXRoxorzboxorzXx profile image

      xXRoxorzboxorzXx 6 years ago from None of your businesses

      Wolves aren't as dangerous as people think they are. Wolves attack you if you attack them, but the reason a wolf would attack you is if someone has attacked a wolf previously in their life. That means we are the cause of our own death, in some parts of the world.

    • xXRoxorzboxorzXx profile image

      xXRoxorzboxorzXx 6 years ago from None of your businesses

      i plan to go and see wolves, living in the wild, but not at Yellowstone park.

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 9 years ago from Oregon, USA

      I've seen what wolves do. I'd only want to see one if there was tripple tempered glass between me and it. and they are 99% the same as dogs. Sheesh!

    • kerryg profile image

      kerryg 9 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Jerilee! On my latest trip, we rounded a curve in the road to find a young black bear ambling his way across. Good reminder never, ever to speed in Yellowstone!

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Excellent hub! Even on the paths and around the cabin accommodation areas at Yellowstone, you can encounter wildlife you don't expect. Met a coyote on the way to the bathroom. Met a running bear just outside the road, on a hike path. You are but a guest in mother nature's home, not the other way around.