The wolves of Yellowstone National Park are the famed group of gray wolves that were reintroduced to the park in 1995 after being absent for over 70 years due to hunting and trapping. Today, the park is home to around 100 wolves in over a dozen packs.
The presence of wolves in Yellowstone brought to light important questions about balance between conservation and human interests. Some people believe that the wolves are a threat to livestock and should be managed or removed. However, others believe that the wolves are an important part of the Park’s natural heritage and should be protected as such.
Wolves play a critical role in the ecosystem of Yellowstone, where they primarily hunt elk but also prey on bison, deer, and other animals. The reintroduction of wolves has definitively led to a cascade of positive ecological effects, such as changes in vegetation, rivers and streams, and the behavior of other animals.
What is a Yellowstone Wolf Tour?
Yellowstone wolf watching involves joining a guided tour that allows visitors to observe and learn about the wolves that inhabit Yellowstone National Park. These tours are led by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the park’s wolf packs and their behavior. Tours typically take visitors to areas where wolf activity is likely to be found, and allows visitors to also learn about the history and management of the wolf population in the park, in addition to the current research and conservation efforts. Wolf viewing in Yellowstone is a unique and educational way to experience the park’s wildlife and natural beauty.
Highlights of a Yellowstone National Park Wolf Tour
Yellowstone National Park is certainly an ultimate destination for discovering the awe of the natural world at every turn, and the northern Lamar Valley of Yellowstone is also likely the best place in the world to observe and learn about gray wolves. During the shoulder season months when we offer wolf watching tours (spring, fall, and winter) it offers a greater solitude that is magical. After many decades of controversy, the 1995 reintroduction of the animals and their ability to thrive in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem is one of the greatest success stories of the national park system.
On a small group tour experience, you’ll be joined by wolf biologist Jon Trapp as well as other wolf experts and scientists as we spend our days as “wolf watchers”. We’ll hike to the acclimation pen, where the wolves lived for their first few months in 1995, or to the historic former den of Wolf #9. We’ll hear stories and learn about wolf ecology, predator-prey relationships, wolf reproduction, wolf tracking, and more. We spend a good portion of our days on gorgeous trails in open valleys and narrow gorges, along bubbling creeks, among groves of Aspens, next to herds of bison, and near the steamy thermal features of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Highlights of each tour are also dependent on the season. In the spring it’s denning season so we observe the pack working together to support the Alpha female and hopefully get a glimpse of the pups. In the fall the wolf pups will be about six months old, which means old enough to travel with the pack away from the den yet young enough to be visually distinct and playful as children. In the winter, the park is the most quiet and dreamy, and in the snowy months the elk (and thus wolves) hang out in the lower elevations of the park—combined with the white of the snow, the gray and black wolves are much easier to observe.
Benefits of Taking a Guided Wolf Watching Vacation
By taking a guided tour your Yellowstone trip will be even more amazing than it would be if you were on your own. Our guides are experts – not just in wildlife – but in knowing the best restaurants, the best times and locations to view Yellowstone’s top sights, the history of the region, and in interpersonal dynamics and creating group fun. It means you can let our team take care of every detail so you can actually relax and enjoy your vacation!
Travel Montana Wolf Watching Vacations
At Travel Montana we offer guided wolf watching tours that feature all of the above and more! Learn more about all of our wolf watching vacations here: