With so much wildlife to see, it comes as no surprise that the Lamar Valley, the pearl of Yellowstone’s Northern Range, is often called America’s Serengeti. Spend up to 5 hours on this wildlife watching tour in Lamar Valley and admire the countless animals roaming its magnificent landscapes. Depending on the season, you might see coyotes stalking their prey, grazing bison, elk rut, or baby bears coming out of their den! And don’t forget about wolves, grizzly bears, bald eagles, pronghorns, and many others.
To get to the Lamar Valley, most people go through the northeast or north entrances to the national park, which are 10 and 25 miles away by road, respectively. You will meet your guide at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch—usually at dawn.
What you get on this adventure:
What’s not included:
Your guides can meet you either at your lodging in Gardiner, MT, or at the departure locations within the park. All transportation during the tour is included in the cost of the trip.
Many people think that you have to hike through the backcountry to find animals, but that’s not the case! Wildlife watching is most effective from viewpoints, overlooks and short trails, not so far from the road. Using a vehicle helps you cover a larger area faster, so you can see more of the animals you’re interested in. For example, it takes 100 miles (160 km) on average to see wolves. Of course, if you prefer to add a short hike to your tour, your guides are always up it!
All of them! Depending on your preferences of temperatures and wildlife, you can choose between winter season (from mid October to mid May) and summer season (from mid May to mid October).
Wildlife watching and birding expeditions are a great activity throughout the year. Baby season is usually in May and June. Your guide will help you plan the trip to be in the right place at the right time and help increase your chances of seeing the animals you’re most interested in. Wildlife is as dynamic and adventurous as possible but animals get shy too, so there is a chance you won’t see every type of animal in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone hosts more than 4 million visitors each year, with peak season being June through September. If you don’t love crowds, you might want to consider visiting in the winter. That’s not to say if you do visit in the summer you’ll be walking the trails conga-line style. Remember, the park spans more than 2 million acres, so if you’re up for hiking in the backcountry you’ll be able to put some space between yourself and other visitors.
Here is a table showing the best months to visit northern Yellowstone.
Your guides have a very high success rate for finding wildlife such as wolves and bears. However, these are wild animals and sightings are not guaranteed. July and August are some of the most challenging months to see larger mammals because high temperatures cause reduced wildlife activity. The more days you spend around their habitats with your guide, the better your chances of spotting bears and wolves.
Keep in mind that you will always watch animals from a safe distance both for you and the animals with high-quality spotting scopes.
Weather conditions can vary dramatically—from sunny and near freezing to bitterly cold and windy, with lows down to -40 C/F. Check forecasts for Cooke City, MT and Mammoth, WY to help you prepare. In general, bring more than you think you need. Please keep in mind that your guides don’t tend to have a lot of extra space for big packs in the vehicle.
Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring if you’re coming in the summer:
If you’re coming in the winter, you should also bring:
Here are some extra tips for visiting Yellowstone:
These wildlife watching tours in Yellowstone are suitable for people with no hiking experience. While your trip will last for up to 8 hours, there won’t be long walking sections since you will largely cover the terrain with a vehicle. This is optimal as it increases your chances for spotting animals. For example, it takes 100 miles (160 km) on average to see wolves.
Keep in mind that the minimum starting elevation is at 6,000 ft above sea level, that weather in summer can be very hot. If you want to include a short hike as part of your Yellowstone wildlife watching trip (discuss this option with your guide), you’ll also be packing a daypack filled with water and other things you’ll need throughout the day. There won’t be a need to carry a daypack if you stick to wildlife watching. Your guide will always be by your side, making sure all the walking sections are suitable for your level.
If you are a wheelchair user or have some other specific needs, this shouldn’t stop you from experiencing Yellowstone! Make sure to contact us if you’re considering a tour and we will make arrangements with your guide. They have experience guiding people of all ages and with specific needs and they’ll be happy to help you navigate the obstacles in this wild and remote area. You can visit the Yellowstone National Park website to find out more about the accessibility in Yellowstone.
Group sizes and prices:
Wildlife watching in Yellowstone can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.
To get to Yellowstone National Park, most people fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. From here, you can rent a car to get to any location within the park in 1.5 to 3 hours of scenic driving.
Your guide can meet people at the following locations: Gardiner MT or Mammoth Hot Springs WY, Tower Junction, Norris Geyser Basin and Canyon Visitor Center.
While the price remains the same, the duration of the trip changes depending on our meeting location. Durations are not exact because wildlife jams and other unplanned circumstances can delay our end time.
If you haven’t chosen your lodging yet, we suggest that you stay in Gardiner MT or somewhere else near Yellowstone’s North Entrance, since it is the closest one to the wildlife watching areas. Once you and your guide have confirmed your date and lodging information, they will suggest the exact meeting time and place, whether at your accommodation or a central location.
Wilderness can get dangerous if you don’t have the proper skills and experience, but don’t worry — your guides carry bear spray and are trained in trail safety in Yellowstone’s bear country. They take grizzly bears seriously!
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Yellowstone, WY, please refer to the official guidelines for air travel into the US and Yellowstone National Park’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!