Field Notes

Yellowstone National Park Tours

by McKinzie FinkSep 1, 2022

Yellowstone National Park draws millions of visitors each year to marvel at its grand offerings including unique hydrothermal sights, a vast wildlife ecosystem, and geologic wonders. At Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, our expert naturalist guides provide an in-depth exploration of the park’s geology, wildlife, and natural history while tailoring your safari around your specific areas of interest.

Read on to learn more about Yellowstone, the best time to visit for your desired excursions and which of our safaris we recommend.

An American Bison Walks At The Edge Of A Stream In Yellowstone National Park

What are the best conditions for spotting wildlife?

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, like we are here at Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, then any number of our Yellowstone Wildlife Safaris would be the perfect fit for you. Depending on what wildlife you’re keen on observing will determine the best time of year to visit Yellowstone.

During the spring and summer months there are plentiful opportunities to see wildlife including moose, elk, deer, bison, pronghorn, fox, coyote, bald and golden eagles, black bears, grizzly bears, and even wolves! Yellowstone guided tours are the best way for visitors to get close up looks at even the most elusive creatures. From May – October we even offer two and three day safaris that focus primarily on witnessing the ecosystem’s most dominant apex predators — wolves and bears — before the former descends to lower elevations and the latter hibernates for the winter.  These multi-day safaris also provide a more thorough park experience.  A day in Yellowstone will reveal much of its natural beauty, but within a rather limited time frame relative to the size of the park.  Two to three days within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will allow our guides to show you a greater variety of terrain, more geothermal features and more time to seek out the wildlife you are most interested in observing. 

Red Fox in Yellowstone National Park

What are the main highlights of Yellowstone?

Particular places of interest in Yellowstone include classic spots like Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Grand Prismatic Spring, among others, but we believe some of the true magic happens when you are able to witness the majestic wildlife as they interact with their environment and coexist against the fantastic backdrop of Yellowstone.  These wildlife viewing opportunities can happen nearly anywhere in the 2.2 million acres of this national park.  Bison can be seen lounging amongst steamy geyser basins, roaming by the hundreds through open landscapes like the Hayden Valley or potentially even wandering down the roadways right beside your tour vehicle.  Grizzly and black bears alike might also be spotted foraging in open meadows that could be a mere 20 yards from the roadside, or as far as a mile out in an open valley.  Often it takes a keen eye to spot wildlife, which is where the value of an experienced naturalist guide is exhibited. .  

Our Yellowstone National Park tours not only take guests along the entire “lower loop” road, visiting famous Yellowstone features like the Continental Divide, Old Faithful, Fountain Paint Pots, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and more.  We also provide guests with the best possible wildlife watching and photography opportunities.  With the help of our “eagle eyed” guides who also have valuable insight of seasonal wildlife hotspots your chances of seeing a variety of animals will be enriched.  Binoculars and spotting scopes are also provided for every tour, which are high powered optics that allow you to observe animals at great lengths, locations that the average visitor might overlook without the right tools.  Multiple guides that work with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris are experienced photographers as well, which if you happen to be traveling with your camera could enhance your photography experience in Yellowstone.

Grizzly Bears in Grand Teton National Park

What are the differences between a full-day tour and a multi-day tour?

To decide which tour is right for you, you first have to understand the differences between our full single-day tours and our multi-day tours. The primary distinction is the sheer amount of sightseeing that can be fit into one day vs two or even three days.  A full single day tour is often a 10-12 hour day that predominantly focuses on traversing the southern scenic loop road of Yellowstone.  This single day tour aims at exploring geothermal highlights like the Old Faithful geyser and kaleidoscopic hot springs, waterfalls that exceed heights of 300 feet, canyons that reach 1,200 feet in depth, open valleys where a variety of wildlife might be roaming and huge lakes that are 20 miles across at the longest point.  A lot can be seen in a single day in Yellowstone, which provides a wonderful scenic overview of the park.  However, if you are seeking a more in depth park experience, consider the two or three day Yellowstone tour.  

Multi-day safaris include both the southern and northern scenic loops of Yellowstone National Park.  This more expansive route will still include features like Old Faithful, but will also provide opportunities to view a greater diversity of geothermal features, like the notorious Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, as well as more waterfalls, more incredible geologic formations and increases your chances of spotting more elusive wildlife such as gray wolves, grizzly bears, mountain goats and bighorn sheep.  Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris will arrange lodging for you, choosing local lodges to support the gateway communities that surround the park when possible.  These lodges are usually near an entrance gate to Yellowstone, which allows for quick access to the park, which increases chances of accessing wildlife rich terrain at prime hours of the day for observation and photography.  These multi-day tours also provide a greater interface between you and your guide.  This allows more time to ask questions and discuss subject matter not only related to the park but also your guides’ unique life experiences from working and living within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

Young grizzly bear in Jackson Hole

Plan Ahead

If you’re already looking past the upcoming winter months and towards your next family vacation to Yellowstone this spring or summer, consider booking your tour early as spots fill up quickly! 

Explore our Yellowstone tours from Jackson Hole today or get in contact with our team to figure out which safari is right for you.

 

 

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Are you planning on arriving in Bozeman, MT instead of Jackson Hole?  Visit Yellowstone Safari Co. to browse their options from the North Entrance.

 

 

McKinzie Fink
Our Expert

McKinzie Fink

Naturalist Guide
See Bio