You can drive on your own to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and see geysers and wildlife. But you run the risk of missing out on really experiencing the parks.
“A lot of people don’t know where to go, what time to go, don’t have a spotting scope and are not in the practice of seeing wildlife,” says Tanya Anderson, director of Wildlife Expeditions at Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyo. “When you go with an expert guide, you're going to see a lot more and you're going to learn a lot more.”
See incredible wildlife and leave the driving to an expert when you reserve a spot with Wildlife Expeditions at Teton Science Schools. The nonprofit’s professional guides know the park intimately, including where to go to see wildlife, how to navigate crowds and what the fascinating stories are behind the world’s first national park.
Wildlife Expeditions offers a number of full-day and half-day tours, along with custom multi-day tours for those wanting a deep dive into the area.
“Our Wildlife Expeditions guides are not just good at finding the best spots for wildlife-viewing but also explaining the natural land and ecosystems,” Anderson says. “There’s a whole story behind, say, the reintroduction of the grizzly, but the landscape is a story unto itself."
Why Wildlife Expeditions?
Celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2020, Wildlife Expeditions offers year-round tours of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Choose a half-day outing like a sunset tour in Grand Teton or a full-day tour of Yellowstone. Wildlife Expeditions is Jackson Hole’s first and only nonprofit tour provider.
What’s amazing about Wildlife Expeditions is you're guaranteed a window seat on every public tour. While its Mercedes Sprinter vans seat 11, Wildlife Expeditions only books seven people per tour. Each van has multiple retractable roofs, so you can stand up and peek your head through the top of the van for better wildlife viewing. Larger groups can schedule a private tour and bring more than seven people along.
No matter which tour you book, you’ll be treated to fantastic local treats, including fresh blueberry muffins from Persephone Bakery in Jackson, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and a complimentary water bottle.
Because the tours are van-based, you’ll get out of the vehicle for light walking occasionally, but there is no strenuous hiking involved.
Best Time of Day to See Wildlife
Book a Grand Teton Sunrise Tour or Grand Teton Sunset Tour to see the park in a new light. You’re most likely to see animals at dawn and dusk because that's when they are more active. In the heat of the day, they avoid open spaces, making it much harder to see them.
You’re also going to see far fewer people early morning or evening, so it’s a great way to beat the crowds. And if you’re a photographer, you’re going to get the best lighting at these times of day.
The park service asks visitors stays 100 yards or farther from bears and wolves and 25 yards from elk, moose and bighorn sheep. But with Teton Science Schools, you’re still going to have an opportunity see the hairs on a grizzly bear lounging in a meadow, the eyes of a bison staring back at you and an eagle mid-flight. Each vehicle is equipped with a set of high-quality binoculars and three spotting scopes.The scopes, along with your guide’s deep well of knowledge, make for a unique, immersive park experience.
“I think binoculars are great for scanning the landscape to see where the animals are,” Anderson says. “But spotting scopes help you to see the wildlife that is far away like the young of the year emerging from their dens. We need to stay far away from wildlife for our safety and theirs, and the scopes help us see things binoculars are not strong enough to see while keeping a safe distance."
Winter Tours with Teton Science Schools
In winter, you can experience the wildness of Yellowstone without the crowds when you go on a snowcoach tour with Wildlife Expeditions. As you explore the wintry landscape, you’ll find it easy to imagine how early explorers felt as they traveled through this magical landscape. There’s a silence and sense of awe that permeates each turn on the tour.
And then there's another bonus.
"In winter, it can be easier to view wildlife like wolves than at other times of the year" Anderson says.
Wildlife Expeditions also operates half and full-day winter tours in Grand Teton National Park and full-day tours, departing from Jackson, Wyo., in Yellowstone National Park for those looking for a short wildlife excursion with a knowledgeable guide.
For a unique experience, you can go on a spring or fall tour. In spring, the parks’ wildlife have a lot of youngsters around them. Fall is mating season.
Wildlife Expeditions offers full-day excursions to Yellowstone National Park that depart from Jackson, Wyo. Take a tour to see the park's iconic Old Faithful and the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Wildland Expeditions’ Five Tips for Travelers
- Go in the off season. You'll avoid crowds, and you'll also see more interesting wildlife behavior. You'll see the young of the year in the spring, and most mammals mate in the fall. Observe mating rituals, or hear the ephemeral sound of elk bugling.
- Head out early. Wildlife are more active at dawn and dusk. You'll see more wildlife if you align your schedule with theirs.
- Educate yourself. There are many ways to expand your knowledge while you are in the parks, including heading out with a wildlife guide, attending ranger programs, or reading books on the natural and cultural history of the area. The park visitor centers have a great selection.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bag and water bottle. Not only will you reduce your impact on the environment, but you will also save money. The town of Jackson has a bag reduction ordinance in all retail locations. Plastic bags are not available, and paper bags cost $0.20 each.
- Be patient. Wildlife never appear on demand. Take a deep breath and focus on the beauty around you in our spectacular parks.
For more information:
(307) 733-1313 or (877) 404-6626 to book a Wildlife Expedition
700 Coyote Canyon Road, Jackson, Wyoming 83001