11 Places to Watch Wildlife Beyond Yellowstone

Did you catch wildlife-viewing fever while in Yellowstone National Park? Don’t worry. You can see magnificent animals beyond the park’s boundaries. Whether you are driving through Wyoming, Idaho or Montana, here are our top 11 spots to pull out your binoculars and camera and view everything from moose, elk and bald eagles to grizzlies.

1. Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

Rescued bear at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Mont. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski
Rescued bear at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Mont. Gloria Wadzinski

Missed seeing a grizzly or wolf in Yellowstone? Visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Mont. The grizzlies that live at the nonprofit center have come from as far as Alaska and as close as Yellowstone. Some were orphaned when their mother became too comfortable trying to get human food while others ended up there because they became aggressive toward people. Not only can you watch them in their outdoor habitat, but you can learn more about grizzlies, the three resident wolf packs and raptors through exhibits and programs there.

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(406) 646-7001

2. Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Trumpeter Swan by Jeff Vanuga
Trumpeter SwanJeff Vanuga

Trumpeter swans with wingspans that can stretch 10 feet live at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge just west of West Yellowstone in Lima, Mont., but its marshes and lakeshores also support moose, bears, pronghorn, badgers and songbirds.

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3. National Bison Range

Bison Cow and Calf at the National Bison Range in Montana.
Bison Cow and Calf at the National Bison Range in Montana.Photo by USFWS Mike Borgreen

Farther north in Moiese, Mont., look for some of the 350 bison that inhabit the National Bison Range. President Teddy Roosevelt established the range in 1908 to provide a permanent range for bison. Keep your eyes peeled for bobcats, deer, badgers, pronghorn antelope and more than 211 species of birds from wintering rough-legged hawks to western meadowlarks who summer at the refuge.

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4. Pryor Mountain

Pryor Mountain Wild Horses
Pryor Mountain Wild HorsesDollar Photo

See the incredible wild horses of Pryor Mountain at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Fort Smith, Mont., on the Wyoming-Montana border. The horses have roamed the area for more than 100 years after escaping or having been released by ranchers, settlers or Native Americans. They have strong Spanish ancestry, which make them unique since this type of horse no longer exist in Spain. Bighorn rams and bears also live here.

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5. National Elk Refuge

Winter sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge. Photo by USFWS Lori Iverson
Winter sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge. USFWS Lori Iverson

To see thousands of elk during winter, head to National Elk Refuge, which is sandwiched between Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Grand Teton National Park. An estimated 7,000 elk live here in the winter before moving to higher elevations during the summer. The refuge also attracts bison for the winter months, although you can see trumpeter swans year-round. Take a horse-drawn winter sleigh ride to literally sit amid thousands of elk. Buy tickets at the Jackson Hole Central Reservations.

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6. Grand Teton National Park

Moose crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park
Moose crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National ParkJose Hernandez

Moose love the Grand Teton National Park area in Wyoming, so you keep your eyes open. A great viewing area is the five miles of road between Moran Junction and Jackson Lake Junction. Pull over to the side of the road early in the morning or in the evening to spot the moose and other wildlife that live in this area. Closer to Jackson Lake Junction, you may see bull moose who spend time here in the summer and fall.

7. Pinedale, Wyoming

Wyoming Pronghorn
Wyoming Pronghorn Deposit Photos

Pronghorn abound near Pinedale, Wyo., during spring and fall migrations to and from Grand Teton National Park. One of the last long-distance land animal migrations in the world, their trek includes four major river crossings as well as a climb over a 9,000-foot pass in the Gros Ventre mountains. To make travel safer for the pronghorn and people driving along the same path, their migratory route became the first federally protected wildlife corridor in the country. It includes six underpasses, two migration overpasses and 13 miles of wildlife fencing along US Highway 191.

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8. Harriman State Park

Great Blue Heron and Mallards at Silvermine Lake in Harriman State Park
Great Blue Heron and Mallards at Silvermine Lake in Harriman State ParkMwanner via Wikimedia Commons

See moose, elk and sandhill cranes as well as trumpeter swans at Harriman State Park, which is situated within an 11,000-acre wildlife refuge in Idaho. It is located 28 miles west of Yellowstone’s West Entrance. Henrys Fork flows through here, as well, attracting fly-fishing aficionados.

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9. Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Sandhill Cranes in Idaho
Sandhill Cranes in IdahoPhoto by USFWS Mountain-Prairie

Birds of a feather flock together in southeast Idaho’s Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a haven migratory and nonmigratory birds. Its inhabitants include the white-faced ibis and sandhill cranes where, depending on the year, more than 200 pairs of cranes nest. You’ll also find large mammals like moose and elk. The refuge is just north of Soda Springs off Highway 34.

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10. Yellowstone Bear World

Feeding a bear cub at Yellowstone Bear World
Feeding A Bear Cub At Yellowstone Bear WorldCourtesy Yellowstone Bear World

At Yellowstone Bear World, a drive-thru wildlife park, you can drive by grizzly bear, black bears, moose and wolves. You can even help staff members bottle-feed a bear cub, but it’s recommended you make an appointment ahead of time rather than relying on limited walk-up appointments. Yellowstone Bear World is located five miles south of Rexburg, Idaho.

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11. Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary

Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary in the summertime. Courtesy photo
Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary in the summertime.Courtesy Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary

Head to Wind River Horse Sanctuary in Lander, Wyo., which is home to 130 mustangs. It’s the only wild horse sanctuary on a Native American reservation. Opened in June 2016 by the Oldham family, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, the sanctuary offers tours and has a visitor center. Learn about the history of wild horses in North America and then take a horse-drawn wagon to see the mustangs in the sanctuary. Call 307-438-3838 for hours of operation.

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