Corrie N. Cody Salutes the Cody/Yellowstone Wildlife
Yellowstone National Park and the Cody area are known throughout the world for the wildlife viewing opportunities. Most people do not get to experience animals in their natural environment. It is exhilarating to see a bear meandering through the woods! Many visitors come to Yellowstone just to see the wildlife. One of my favorite wildlife viewing spots in Yellowstone is the Lamar Valley also known as the Serengeti of the US. Large herds of bison meander the valley while wolves, coyotes, antelope, bears, deer and elk forage nearby. Stop and sit a spell and you will be surprised at the wildlife you experience.
Yellowstone National Park is home to 67 species of mammals. The most watchable mammals are bison. Bison are located throughout the Park and tend to wonder outside the Park boundaries. Areas like the Hayden and Lamar Valleys are home to large herds. Solitary males tend to hang out all over the Park. Practically every visitor to the Park will get to a bison and often quite closely from their car! Other watchable wildlife include elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and coyotes. It is not unusual to see these animals grazing near the Park’s main roads. If you are lucky, you may see a moose in a marshy area or a Big Horn sheep on a rocky ledge.
Everyone visiting Yellowstone wants to see a bear. They are the stars of the Park! There are two types of bears that call the Park home, black and grizzly bears. Bear sightings are frequent along the roads of the Park. You may even get stuck in a “bear jam” where traffic backs up for miles because a bear is hanging out near the road. Park rangers will be present when there is a bear jam and will make sure everyone respects the bear’s space. You need to be extremely cautious when encountering any wildlife in the Park. Remember, all the animals are WILD.
In the mid 1990’s, thirty-one gray wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone. Since that time they have flourished and number around 300. Wolf watching has become a huge attraction in the Park and special tours are available. As you drive through the Park, you may see a group of people with spotting scopes and cameras set up along the road just waiting for a wolf to come into view. Most of the Park’s wolf packs have very specific roaming areas so it is easy to find the spots where they have been hanging out. Wolf watching takes patience and knowing where to wait it out.
Bird watchers have a lot to be excited about in the greater Yellowstone area. There are 330 documented species of birds in Yellowstone. Bald eagles are a highlight to see. These majestic birds soar throughout the area. Osprey and Trumpeter swan can be found around Yellowstone Lake feeding on fish. A variety of hawks, owls and waterfowl are common along the roadways. The National Parks Service provides a birding checklist at www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/birds.htm.
Just because you have left Yellowstone, don’t stop looking for wildlife. The corridor from the East Entrance to Cody is full of wildlife. In fact, I have seen more moose along that section than in the Park! There are several bison that hangout along the river. River otters are also visible along the river from the road. Big Horn sheep are often along the edge of the road grazing. In the winter and spring time, it is not unusual to see a couple of rams sparing! Mule deer are a given so be sure to watch for them crossing the road.
There are so many wonderful reasons to visit Buffalo Bill Cody’s Yellowstone Country but wildlife has got to be at the top. The best part about wildlife watching is it is fun for all ages and you can do it year round!
So until next time, I’ll be lovin’ wildlife in Cod/Yellowstone Country!