Looking for Wolves in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Wolf Pack Map

You can see wolves in Yellowstone without a guide easily enough–but it’ll take some work and tolerance for long-distance viewing. The re-introduction of gray wolves back into the park in 1995 has changed the typical Yellowstone tourist from a bear maniac to at least a dual purpose animal watcher. Now the second most popular question for rangers is where they can see wolves.

The answer–for anyone who hasn’t seen the thousands of PBS wolf documentaries or print stories–is Lamar Valley. Visitors used to skip the road out of Roosevelt Lodge into the northeast quadrant of the park. But since wolves were brought back in 1995–over the loud objections of the farm bureau and ranchers–they’ve been a huge attraction. They’ve had a bigger impact on the ecosystem and visitors’ experience than most would have predicted. They’re still shy and there are probably less than 100 in the park, but researchers, wolf fanatics and just regular visitors can see them from the roadside.

“Honestly, we were blindsided—none of us ever thought the wolves would be visible,”  Doug Smith, wolf project leader at Yellowstone National Park, told Scott Kirkwood in a 2006 National Parks Conservation Association article. “I worked on Isle Royale National Park for 13 years and if I saw one wolf a summer, I was thrilled, but here in Yellowstone, people now expect to see wolves and a lot of them do.”

We knew to drive in Lamar Valley at dusk and dawn and to look for the people

Keep reading Looking for Wolves in Yellowstone