Wildlife is one of the quintessential parts of any National Park and it’s no different in Yellowstone National Park. In fact, this is one of the most prolific parks in the United States for wildlife viewing. There are animals here that can’t be seen in many states, and the variety of species is abundant. I’ve compiled a small photo journal of some of my favorite wildlife shots here, in no particular order.
Before we go through my photojournal, please remember the wildlife safety rules. Stay at least 25 yards away from bison, moose, elk, deer, pronghorn, and other non-carnivorous animals. Stay away at least 100 yards away from bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, cougars, and other carnivorous animals. It’s for your safety and theirs!
Okay, now for the fun part!
Bears Between Parks
Sometimes the best sightings are just on the side of the road. This sighting happened as Mercedes and I were crossing from Grand Teton to Yellowstone. It’s a little eerie seeing bears before you enter the park, but perhaps it makes you more aware of the dangers of the wild. In any case, it was so cool to see! I wish I had a longer lens but hey, that’s an investment for next time, right?
A Bison and An Elk walk Into A Field…
Another great shot I took by the side of the road. Yeah, you won’t have to look too far for wildlife in Yellowstone! It’s everywhere. In places like this, Forest Rangers will often direct traffic and people to make sure the animals aren’t being harassed. As they often say, don’t pet the fluffy cows!
Coyote in Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the entire park, rivaled only by Lamar Valley. I haven’t made it to Lamar Valley in the 3 times I’ve visited Yellowstone, so that’s on my list for sure. In any case, Hayden Valley is a prime area to watch wildlife. The horizon is usually dotted with loads of bison, deer, elk, and other small animals. In 2020, I saw a bear run to a river, swim across, and continue running on the opposite side. In 2022, I saw this coyote from the road, and it also ran to a river, swam across it, and continued running. It’s these sightings that make it worthwhile!
A Full Rack of Elk
This elk was spotted along the side of the road in 2020. And yes, that makes this list four-for-four on “wildlife photos taken from the road”. It’s seriously one of the best places to see wildlife. You don’t have to look long or hard for them at all! I remember being a little disappointed at first with this shot since I wanted the elk to raise its head. But, the longer I’ve had it, the longer I’ve learned to love it. The massive antlers really shows you how big these animals are!
Rainy Day for AN Elk Mama
This story is pretty cool. Mercedes and I had gotten back to camp early and made dinner in an effort to beat the rain. We headed over to the showers at Grant Village, showered, and came back to a total downpour! We waited it out a little bit and figured it could pass, so we decided to drive over to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. When we arrived, a whole herd of elk was passing through! I got my camera out and snapped some shots. It was totally awesome!
You get an Elk Butt! You get an elk Butt!
More often than not, this is the reality of shooting wildlife photos. I get a lot of butts. Like, a lot…..of butts. Just this past weekend, I photographed a moose in Utah and got about 8 butt shots before some decent side profiles. Maybe they think it’s their good side? I dunno! I should ask them one day…with a loud speaker…25 yards away!
I am Mufasa…I am Lion!
As happens with all good stories, one of the more adventurous hikes Mercedes and I did yielded nearly zero wildlife encounters. Besides the frequent flying birds trying to max out their points, there was next to nothing on the trail! Then, on our hike to Fairy Falls, at our destination, we saw a playful chipmunk scurrying about. Mercedes wanted me to take videos of him since “he’s so cute, look at him!” So, I took some videos and some photos. Ya happy Mercedes?
Grazing on Thin Ice
I’m not really sure why a thousand-pound animal would graze next to the most delicate thermal areas in the park but hey, if that’s this bison’s bread and butter, so be it. Maybe living on the ledge is a mantra among the herd. If so, this bison is certainly grabbing the life by the horns! After all, everyone needs to let off a little steam, right geyser? See, you get me! I’ll go tell Fred he’s being a little bull-headed. The nerve of some animals…
That wraps it up! I’ve got more from Yellowstone coming up shortly. I also have a few more adventures from Utah, including some different types of blogs that I’ve wanted to share for a long time now! I’ll need to get to those soon – some of the seasons are ending!
Next blog: Oktoberfest.