Are you an animal lover at heart? Are you hearing the call of the wild? Are you feeling adventurous? If you answered yes to these questions then perhaps it’s time you take a break from your busy hectic life and get out there and reconnect with nature and its entire splendor.
Taking that long awaited vacation and escaping back to nature is perhaps just what you need and what better place to find that connection than visiting a national park.
Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park established in 1872. The park borders 3 states- Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and besides its reputation for amazing geysers and hot springs, it is home to one of the largest concentrations of wildlife. The parks large variety of species makes this a great spot for any animal lover to see some of America’s most beloved animals.
One of the reasons Yellowstone National Park animals thrive is the variable habitats the park encompasses such as alpine tundra, mountain meadows, and sage-steppe grasslands. These habitats are home to over 60 mammals including bears, wolves, moose, elk, bison, badgers, otters, fox and many other species.
One thing to be clear on, Yellowstone is not a zoo; but Yellowstone’s National Park animals are free to roam, migrate and live on their instinctual terms and conditions. They are not trained-animals being led by trainers nor are they there to perform for you. The real entertainment comes from observing them in their own natural habitat.
Remember what you see will vary with the weather, season, and behavior of the animals. You might see animals in other places in the park, or you might not see any at all.
With natural beauty comes responsibility which means respecting these wild animals and their habitat. Visitors should always keep a safe distance between them, never feed them and clean up after you leave to keep their home nice and pristine.
So, a park like Yellowstone can be a bit overwhelming and you may be thinking where to begin or what animal is a must see. Well, the parks animal lover visitors hope to catch a glance of are bears, wolves and of course bison.
Yellowstone is home to black bears and grizzly bears. There are well over 200 black bear and between 500-600 grizzly bears roaming freely in the park and the best chance at catching a glimpse of them is early mornings or evenings.
Although they do roam free, a hot spot and common area for the bears is Hayden and Lamar Valley. The grizzly bear is the most popular animal that visitors hope to see, they are identified by their size and large hump shape above the shoulders
Grizzly bears are active primarily during nocturnal (night time) so best changes to see them are just at sunrise or sunset.
Black bears are active during the day, commonly found near openings in forest areas Black bears can be seen around Elk Creek to Tower Falls, and sometimes from Mammoth Hot Springs north to Indian Creek.
Now another popular animal that visitors hope to see is the gray wolf. Perhaps it’s because up until 1995, wolves were not part of Yellowstone National Park.
At one point the gray wolf was thought to be a menace and invasive species so they were killed and hunted almost to the point of extinction. It wasn’t until the 1970’s and the endangered species act being passed that the researched showed the wolf does play a huge part in the ecosystem, helping to keep other animal species and plants in balance. The Gray wolf was listed as an endangered species.
They were introduced back into Yellowstone in 1995 and today at least 13 wolf packs equaling over 300 wolves now make the park their home.
Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are popular viewing spots for gray wolves. The wolf is one of the most intelligent animals on the plant and can easily be identified by its size in comparison to a fox or coyote. More than 100,000 visitors have reported seeing wolves inside Yellowstone since their reintroduction in 1995.
The third most popular animal is perhaps the number one animal when you think of the open range, the Wild West and America’s true frontier. Bison, that’s right the big guys! Yellowstone is the only park in the lower 48 to have a free range Bison population still thriving since prehistoric times.
Interesting fact that I’m sure will raise an eyebrow, Bison are not Buffalo! In fact there is no such thing as the American Buffalo, many people refer to bison as a buffalo but they are actually cousins to the true buffalo found in Africa and Asia-the Water and Cape buffalo.
Today there are over 4,000 bison residing in Yellowstone National Park and they are the number one cause of traffic jams in the park! Tourists don’t seem to mind however as this incident is an amazing photo opportunity and something truly spectacular to witness.
Even though a Bison can exceed over 2,000 lbs they are a very docile creature unless provoked. Bison can actual run over 30 mph, that’s pretty fast for an animal of their size. With a population as big as Yellowstone’s, you can find bison everywhere through the park. That in itself is pretty amazing considering at the turn of the century there were approximately 60 million bison in America until they were killed almost to extinction.
The bison in Yellowstone today are descendants of those survivors and make up a large percentage of Yellowstone National Park animals population..
Now of course there are plenty of other amazing animals to observe and catch a glimpse of throughout the park. Truth be told any wildlife encounter is truly amazing and we should be grateful for that moment and cherish it.
Moose are also fascinating creatures to watch and of course elk are always an amazing sight to see, they are by far the largest population in the park. Elk numbers soar well over 15,000 in the park and can be seen in many areas.
Keep in mind it is not all about the big guys, coyotes, fox, badgers, and otters amongst many other small creatures make up a large percent of Yellowstone National Park animals.
One big thing to remember…these are wild animals living in their natural habitats. By no means should you ever try to touch, pet or feed any of the animals. Keeping a safe distance between you and the animals is best for your safety and the safety of the animal you encounter.
Remember this; a fed animal is a dead animal! Park service will destroy any animal -whether they are a threat or not that are habituated to human contact or human food.
So fulfill that “call of nature” desire and get out and visit Yellowstone and reconnect with nature and all of its glory. Don’t forget to bring binoculars, and cameras and a comfortable pair of hiking shoes but most importantly remember to stop and really let the majestic beauty of seeing these amazing animals in Yellowstone’s nature just really sink into your soul. There is truly nothing more humbling, grounding and spiritually uplifting then when you take a breather from everyday life and realize how we are all somewhat so insignificant to the vastness of nature and the animal kingdom.
(Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park, USA, Yellowstone Morning In Winter, Grizzly Near Daisy Geyser, Yellowstone Wolf in Woods, Bison-from-Yellowstone-National-Park-Roaming-the-Wilderness, Looking death in the eye, Bison and Electric Peak at the North Entrance of Yellowstone, A Moose Hidden in the Snow, Moose by River at Yellowstone)