Yellowstone Wildlife Viewing

Best Guesses for Wildlife Viewing

 “As I learned about ecosystems like this one, I was surprised how angry I became. I was mad at humans for being so selfish to pollute the Earth constantly without any thought as to how their actions would impact it. I was upset at myself for not caring before and making decisions that would hurt the planet.”    – student participant

Curious Pronghorn Doe

Are you curious about what wildlife we are likely to see?  Here are some tentative answers.

I’ve been to Yellowstone in June on multiple occasions, and have experience looking for most of the following species. (Unfortunately, I’ve never seen those marked with an asterisk*.)

I’m constructing the course to include opportunities to spot popular animals, based on being there in late June with average snowpack and weather.  I know enough to be able to adjust our itinerary a little if the weather is unusual.

Wolf Watching in the Lamar Valley

As they say in financial prospectuses, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But this is Pahre’s best estimate of the likelihood of seeing the following animals during our week in Yellowstone.  I’ve listed the likely locations so that you can guess what species we might see on particular days.

If you have your heart set on seeing a particular species, you’ll probably jinx us – – so don’t do that. We have to save something for your next trip to Yellowstone.

Species Likelihood Sightings Places
Bison, calves Near certainty Every year Northern Range
Elk, calves Near certainty Every year Northern Range
Small rodents Near certainty Every year Anywhere
Coyote Likely Every year Anywhere
Pronghorn Likely Every year Timbered Island
Spawning trout Somewhat likely Varies Various lakes
Corvids (ravens, whiskeyjacks, magpies) Very likely Every year Anywhere
Beaver sign (dams) Very likely (if tried) Beaver Ponds
Wolves Somewhat likely More than half Lamar, Hayden
Bighorn sheep Somewhat likely About half the times Blacktail Plateau
Black bear Fairly likely Every year Roosevelt
Moose Fairly likely Most years Tetons
Sandhill cranes Fairly likely Most years Madison
Mule deer Fairly likely Every year Northern Range
Osprey Somewhat likely About half Canyon
Bald eagle Fairly likely More than half Madison
Pelican Fairly likely Every year Snake River
Grizzly bear Likely Every year but one Lamar, Hayden
River otters* 50-50 if we try Once Trout Lake
Beavers Unlikely Not yet! Rivers
Red fox Somewhat likely About half Anywhere
Badger Somewhat likely About half Lamar
Snowshoe hare Unlikely Once Tetons
Porcupine Unlikely Once Tetons
Marmot Likely Almost always Tetons; Storm Point
Trumpeter Swan Somewhat likely Less than half Madison
Pine marten Unlikely Once or twice Tetons
Pika Somewhat likely About one in four Tetons
Gopher snake Somewhat likely About one in four Gardiner region
Rattlesnake Very unlikely Not yet! Gardiner region
Bobcat* Very unlikely Not yet! Nocturnal, elusive
Mountain lion* Very unlikely Not yet! Nocturnal, elusive
Wolverine* Very unlikely Not yet! Nocturnal, elusive


This picture is an example of “at a distance” wolf-spotting. With normal binoculars, you’ll see about this level of detail.  The photo is taken through a 200mm zoom lens.

The wolf is walking through the bison herd to see if anyone is sick or wounded. The bison aren’t really concerned.

Distant mountain goats

Our mountain goat sightings also come at this distance. See if you can find the mountain goats in the image to the right.