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Yellowstone Wolf Watching Tips
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.
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.
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.
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
Planning Your Trip
- Yellowstone National Park
The official NPS website of Yellowstone National Park
- Yellowstone Lodging
The ONLY IN-PARK ACCOMMODATION PROVIDER. Don't pay extra reservation fees to outside services. Book directly with Xanterra. On behalf of the National Parks Service.
Yellowstone Park: Resources to help plan your travel to Yellowstone National Park.
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.
- Yellowstone Wolf Tracker
Information for watching wolves in Yellowstone Park inlcuding tours, guided trips, and other services
- Wolves of Yellowstone (U.S. National Park Service)
Official info on the wolves