Hi, Everyone,

my wife Ingrid and I are contemplating a return to Yellowstone NP in 2023.  We haven’t been there since 2008 but always planned to return. Last time we found late May to be a good time. We would be looking for wolves and bears again but, as always, we are keen to see as much as possible. If you were going for one week and probably never again, which week of the year woud you choose? Tough question, I know! And what are your top tips for Yellowstone? Any chance of bobcat or puma? And where would you go nearby as an add-on. We went to Grand Teton last ime. So Glacier? Or…? Where in Canada or US would you look for wolverines?




  • wildlife_watcher

    I am planning a trip to yellowstone also, I compiled a big list of notes from various books and internet sources, but as I haven’t been since I was a small child and all of it is second hand, it could be outdated or just wrong so I’m hesitant to suggest trusting it. Have you read the trip reports on here yet? I am interested in hearing the opinions of experienced yellow stone travelers, too. In any event, here is the generic answer I get from searching online :
    Roosevelt Country: Lamar valley, antelope creek grizzly and wolf possible.
    Mammoth Country: Elk in lawns at mammoth junction, bighorn sheep everette ridge between mammoth and north entrance. Check rocky slopes up North for sheep, will need a scope. Moose try Willow Park, better in Tetons.
    Lake Country: Bison Moose Marmots Spring Grizzly at Pelican creek. Moose try Lewis Lake. Grizzly can be at fishing bridge in spring.
    Norris: Elk Park for elk and bison.
    Canyon Country: Hayden valley can have bison coyote wolf grizzly ( spring).

  • Clay Spencer

    Were it my last trip to Yellowstone, I’d suggest going in February (full-moon?) and stay with Yellowstone Expeditions near Central Canyon in their yurt camp. You’re giving up the chance of seeing grizzlies, but it’s a small consolation if you’re interested in seeing wolves (in breeding season). Arden & Erica host many photography clients and will know where to go. I’d also want to stay in Gardiner (or nearby) and drive the only plowed road across the northern part of the park for 2-3 days.

    I’ve only seen wolverine near Lake O’Hara, Yoho NP in Canada… on the Opabin Plateau. Although they have been sighted in Yellowstone, it’s quite rare.

  • Greg Easton

    Here’s the data from my 25 trips to Yellowstone. Most of these have been 2 day trips as I live about 6 hours from the park. My winter visits have been snowmobile trips in the southern half of the park so I’ve missed the wolves that seem to be common in the Lamar Valley during winter. I considered a March trip winter, so that was the winter Grizzly just out of hibernation. From my data, spring and summer are best for bears though you still have decent chances in the fall and wolves are best in the fall. If you spend an entire week any time other than winter I would expect to see wolves and bears with high probability. If you want more details I have a word document I can email you with thoughts on where to see different species.

    # Wolves % Moose % Grizzlies % Black Bears %
    Winter 3 0 0% 1 33% 1 33% 0%
    Spring 7 3 43% 4 57% 5 71% 6 86%
    Summer 6 2 33% 3 50% 5 83% 5 83%
    Fall 9 6 67% 4 44% 3 33% 4 44%
    25 11 44% 12 48% 14 56% 15 60%

    • Greg Easton

      That data didn’t post in the same format as it appeared on my screen. The first # in each row is the number of trips I’ve made during that season and then the # of times I’ve seen each species followed by the %…

  • Greg Easton

    That data didn’t post in the same format as it appeared on my screen. The first # in each row is the number of trips I’ve made during that season and then the # of times I’ve seen each species followed by the %…

  • Bob

    Wildlife in Grand Tetons has changed since 2008, Grizzlies and Moose are common now. Northeast corner YS for Moose and some area just north of Gardiner for Grizzly(not sure of name). Wolves Lamar Valley. Wolverines a slight chance Many Glacier area Glacier NP.

  • John Fox

    My only trip was the second week of May and I thought it was ideal because there were very few people. A lot of the retail stores in Gardiner weren’t open yet but enough to get by, and the hotel had rooms available. A wolf with pups was denning in a cave across Lamar Valley from one of the pull offs and there were a dozen scopes on it, mostly Park personnel. They said the day before a grizzly with a cub was sniffing around the cave, the wolf shot out of the cave like a bullet and almost killed the cub before it was over. That would have been something to see.

    I went to Hellroaring trailhead and found a Pika (as reported somewhere) and a longtail weasel came through, that was a mammal highlight of the trip.

    I left by the Silver Gate and soon after a late snowstorm had the road closed. But Wyoming had plows out right quick and I only lost a few hours. Driving the Beartooth Highway with almost no one else on it was a delight, too.

  • Ian Thompson

    Hi Miles,
    Coming up with a plan to see wolverines in Canada during the summer is really difficult. Your best bet would be a canoe trip down the Thelon River, which is logistically complicated and time-consuming. There are a couple of options in winter which might have a reasonable chance of success. Otherwise it will just be a matter of extreme and random luck. I’m happy to discuss further if you would like.

    • Miles Foster

      Thanks, Ian,

      the idea of a winter trip is still on my mind, and I realise it is the best time for a chance of wolverine, I’ll certainly let you know if we decide to do it.

  • Miles Foster

    Many thanks for the advice, everyone, plenty of food for thought. Thanks for those tips, wildlife_watcher, and great data, Greg. Yes, I had heard Glacier was good for wolverine, Bob, particularly the Highline Trail, thanks for confirming, As we are coming from the UK we will have to plan carefully to make best use of our time and I notice the Highline Trail doesn’t open til mid-June, so that could be a factor in determining when we visit Yellowstone. That’s a great tip too, John.

    Does anyone know of anywhere else in the Lower 48 to try for wolverine or any other great wildlife spots within reach of Yellowstone?

  • Barry Drees

    Hi Miles, I live in Europe and have only been there once – but we went in September and the landscape because of the bright yellow aspens was incredible – almost every photo looked like a post card. No Cougars or Wolverines, unfortunately, but lots of bears (Black & Grizzly), Wapiti, Pronghorn, Bison, Moose, Wolves, Coyotes, Mule Deer. The one negative was huge crowds around the expected sites (Old Faithful, etc.), but anywhere a bit away from these was great. Have fun it is a great wildlife adventure.

  • NW

    I just got back from a late May trip to Yellowstone, and have also been in July and september (early and late). There’s plusses and minuses for any season. If you’re interested in photos, many animals are in the middle of their spring molt and antlered mammals are in early growth so they may not look their most impressive. On the other hand, Many species are with their young of the year in late may (more might be in June but then you have more crowds to compete with). There will be some amount of crowding at any time, but it’s not as bad in May or Sept as mid-summer. Many rodents are out by late may (more so than I’ve seen in either early or late September)

    Mammals we saw on our trip:
    Grizzly Bear (with cubs)
    Black bear (with cubs)
    Gray Wolf (with Pups)
    Coyote (with pups)
    Red Fox
    River Otter (on drive from Bozeman)
    Badger (with cubs, we didn’t see them but other photographers had that day)
    White-Tailed Jackrabbit
    American Pika
    Red Squirrel
    Uinta Ground Squirrel
    Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel
    Yellow-Bellied Marmot
    Chipmunks that I did not take pics of for ID
    Bison (with calves)
    Elk (with calves, especially later in the week, very end of May)
    Bighorn Sheep
    Mountain Goat (with kids)
    Mule Deer

  • Miles Foster

    Hi, NW,

    Thanks for that. Glad you had a good trip and what a great mammal tally. You have confirmed the way our minds were going – late May still looks like the best time all things considered. As we will be in the States for about 4 weeks in total, do you know of any other great wildlife spots within reach of Yellowstone?

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