Did you see grizzlies and wolves while in Yellowstone National Park? If not, 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
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.
2. Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
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.
3. National Bison Range
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.
4. Pryor Mountain
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.
5. National Elk Refuge
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.
6. Grand Teton National Park
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
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 Hwy. 191.
8. Harriman State Park
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. The Henrys Fork flows through here, as well, attracting fly-fishing aficionados.
9. Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge
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 Hwy. 34.
10. 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.
11. 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.