Wildlife of Yellowstone National Park

Posted By Allison on Sep 14, 2012

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Bison are a common sight along the roads.

When we visited Yellowstone National Park over the 4th of July in 2008, I was astonished by two things. First, that Yellowstone is big enough to comfortably accommodate even the largest summer holiday crowd. Second, the park is full of wildlife that can be seen readily from the main roads. Here are some of the animals we spotted in Yellowstone National Park.

On our first morning in the park, we spotted our first and last coyote. He was just trotting down the road.

We saw this bald eagles’ nest as we drove to and from the park every day.

We were lucky to see this black bear from a distance. Bear sightings are not as common as they once were, and you don’t want to meet this guy up close.

Wildlife sightings are exciting, especially for city dwellers like us. Here are three important safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Always respect the animal’s space. The wildlife of Yellowstone seem tame because they are used to cars and people, but they are unpredictable. Bears, bison and other animals have injured and killed tourists. Even those adorable little chipmunks can give nasty bites.
  2. Never feed wildlife, and follow park rules about storing and disposing of food. Yellowstone has special bear-proof garbage cans at picnic and camp sites. Use them. These time-tested rules are in place to protect both tourists and animals.
  3. Drive safely. Yellowstone can be a busy park and an auto accident will ruin a vacation, or worse. Pay attention to the road when driving and pull out of the way of traffic if you want to stop for a better look at the wildlife.

Elk were not bothered by tourists near Mammoth Hot Springs

This post appeared in The Beauty of Nature Travel blog roundup at GreenGlobalTravel.com in April 2013.

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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.


  1. I love that you got to see a coyote and a black bear. We visited Yellowstone during Fall so it was bison and elk for our sightings. We’re still hoping for a moose sighting one of these days. Great tips to always keep in mind. We saw a guy within feet of a bear taking a picture of it with his iPhone in Sequoia NP last year.

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    • I saw a moose on my first trip to Yellowstone. Very cool. I hear that the spring is a great time to visit because of the potential baby animal sightings. That would also be the time to be extra careful around protective animal mamas. No photo is worth getting that close to a bear!

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  2. Yellowstone is amazing! We were there about 23 years ago and I still remember it vividly. The sheer massiveness of the park is beyond belief and there are so many different environments within the park, it is fascinating!

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  3. That is one big black bear. It almost looks like a grizzly. Cool that you saw a coyote too. I actually see them frequently in the city of Chicago when I run through the park at night.

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    • Really! I never would have expected coyotes in the city of Chicago.

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