When is the best time to view wolves in Yellowstone? The truth is the seasons have various pros and cons but you can see wolves in Yellowstone all year long.
The six months of the year from November through April have vastly fewer visitors than the six months from May through October. We love that about winter in the park. In addition, in the snowy months elk (and thus wolves) hang out in the lower elevations of the park, often in the very visible Lamar Valley. And when there is snow on the ground, gray and black wolves are much easier to see. For these reasons, winter months are the best wolf viewing months of the year. However, temperatures can be cold, which is why we prefer February for our winter tours. We are snowshoeing rather than hiking on our winter tours and the snow makes viewing animal tracks easier.
The spring months of March through May are sort of the in-between season when snows are melting and the winter snow coaches have stopped but the park is not yet fully open for summer. Our preference for these months is to visit during the second half of May before the Memorial Day weekend, a perfect time when park facilities have just opened up yet the crowds are still scarce. This is also a super interesting time for wolf watching. Wolf pups are usually born in April and take about three weeks before they are up and playing around outside, so if you are lucky enough to be in the area you might get to view newborn pups running, jumping, wrestling, and having a great time.
Summers in Yellowstone can get hot and crowded. Elk tend to go up to higher ground away from park roads and wolves tend to follow them. We know most visitors get stuck in the summer vacation schedule because of school calendars or other factors. And we love Yellowstone in all periods of the year, including summer when temperatures are usually pleasant. Plus, the great thing about Yellowstone is that it is possible to see wolves year-round in the Lamar Valley, especially if you get up really early to be out and viewing at sunrise.
Facilities start to shut down after Labor Day and by November 1 much of the park is closed. Temperatures are still pleasant in September, snow starts to fall in October, and November can already be bitterly cold. Because of this seasonal cycle and the drop in visitors after Labor Day, we love the months of September and October in Yellowstone. For wolf viewing, the colder weather of October and snows in the mountains start to drive the elk down to lower levels, which makes October a great month for wolf viewing and still good for hiking. Wolf pups are now six months old and are keeping up with the mobile packs while still being young enough to show off playful antics, which is great for visitors.
The Best Time To View Wolves in Yellowstone
We know your vacation planning will have a lot to do with your own calendar. But if you want to plan based on the park, weather, and wolf watching, the best times to go are February, the latter half of May, and October – which by no coincidence is when we run our three yearly wolf watching tours. For more information on planning your trip to Yellowstone, see our Yellowstone Planning Guide. For more information on our wolf tours, see our current trip schedule.