Today, Yellowstone National Park is as famous for wildlife as it is for its spectacular geology. In winter, there are plenty of opportunities to see a wide range of animals. You just need to look in the right places.
For birders, there are 42 species that live in the park year around and at least 7 species that migrate to the region in winter. For many birds, open-water is needed to survive. Thermal runoff from the geyser basins help keep many stretches of water ice-free.
These open stretches of water attract waterfowl, like trumpeter swans, that are migrating south from their nesting grounds in Canada and Alaska. There are more swans here in winter than in summer. Bald eagles, many of which spend the summer on lakes, can also be found near the open water of rivers.
Away from the rivers, the best birding is at the lower elevations found in the northern sections of the park. In areas like Lamar valley, ravens, magpies, eagles and other scavengers can be seen on winter-kill and predator-killed carcasses.
For much of the winter, Lamar Valley is the best place to see many species of wildlife. Yellowstone’s wolf population is more concentrated in the park’s northern range. Lamar just many be the best place on earth to watch wolves in a natural setting.
If that is something that interests you, get out at sunrise or sunset; wolves are more active then. Watch for groups of people with spotting-scopes. There is quite a contingency of wolf watchers. Find them and more than likely you will find wolves.
Wolves are more abundant in the north because of the high density of large mammals. Elk, deer, bison, pronghorn and coyotes can be found in the open meadows. Away from Lamar Valley, the Madison and the Firehole River basins are the best wildlife habitats in winter.
If you are a wildlife lover, a trip to Yellowstone in winter can surely meet your expectations. Always keep a safe distance from wild animals; dress warm, get out early and have the trip of a lifetime.