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Cody Yellowstone is one of the best places in the United States to see roaming wildlife and fascinating creatures in their natural habitat. From our famous bison – North America’s largest land mammal — to bears, wolves, moose, eagles, and more, we’ve got your animal-spotting goals covered. But they don’t call it wildlife for nothing! Our creatures are untamed, which means they do not necessarily play well with humans and should be treated with the respect they deserve due to their size and strength. (Not to mention their horns, claws, talons, beaks, teeth, and predator drive — you name it, they’ve got it!) To remain safe and make the most of your wildlife-viewing experience in Cody Yellowstone, follow this guide of essential dos and don’ts.

Do: Bring Your Binoculars

When viewing the vast landscapes of Cody Yellowstone, you may find yourself feeling envious of birds of prey who are able to spot snacks from miles away. While humans were not gifted eagle eyes, a pair of binoculars can go a long way to making sure you have a safe and enjoyable Yellowstone experience. Binoculars allow you to get an up-close view of wildlife without risking injury by getting physically close. As a bonus, they help you better take in the spectacular vistas of our scenic byways and will come in handy for a variety of outdoor recreation activities.

Don’t: Try to Touch the Animals

Bison Crossing the Road at Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park

While many of our creatures may appear soft, cute, and cuddly, they aren’t housepets and shouldn’t be treated as such! You or your children may be tempted to touch the wildlife, but this should be avoided for many reasons, including the health of our animals. Some chemicals and germs that are harmless to humans can make animals sick or even kill them. Avoid introducing any potentially harmful substances to our wild population, as we want to ensure our creatures remain healthy and abundant for future visitors. 

Most animals have natural instincts to avoid humans (remember the old adage that “they’re more scared of you than you are of them”). Still, contact may condition them to believe that humans are not so scary after all. We don’t want animals approaching groups of visitors who are unprepared. Wild animals are gifted with a strong drive to defend themselves and are well equipped with the natural weapons to do so. You do not want to be on the wrong end of a bison’s horns, grizzly bear’s claws, or eagle’s talons — to name just a few of the potential dangers of touching these wild and wonderful beasts.

Do: Take Lots of Photos!

Man taking photograph of a bison in open field

Wildlife viewing here is an incredible adventure you’ll want to share with your friends, family, and social media followers! Make sure to take lots of photos from a safe distance to capture memories of your experience. If you’re into taking photos the old-fashioned way with a standalone camera, consider packing your telephoto lens so you can capture wildlife images that appear up close while keeping lots of space between you and your subjects. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll catch something worthy of a museum!

Don’t: Take Selfies with the Animals!

To put it plainly: If you’re close enough to a bear, moose, bison, or any other animal to take a selfie, you’re way too close for safety! Save the selfies for capturing those memorable moments with family and friends as you dine at one of our fantastic restaurants or go on a scenic or informative tour. You should always remain alert and at a safe distance when viewing our animals, which isn’t easy to do when attempting to get everyone into the frame for a selfie. 

Do: Go On a Tour with Professionals

One of the safest ways to explore Cody Yellowstone is on a tour. Professional guides know the area inside and out. They can provide tips for remaining healthy and safe while exploring some of Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres of land. Visit Yellowstone’s most iconic sites, including Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with Cody Shuttle Service and Yellowstone Tours. Their tours often spot bighorn sheep, wolves, bison, elk, river otters, black bears, and grizzly bears. Cody Wyoming Adventures offers Cody Wyo-Wild Mustang Safari and Tours, where you can see a variety of our famous wildlife from the safety of an open-air van. Grub Steak Expeditions offers customizable tours led by naturalist guides, which significantly improves your chances of seeing various wildlife. Whichever tour you choose, you’ll be guaranteed to get safe guidance from knowledgeable professionals.

Don’t: Feed the Animals

Wild chipmunk feeding on rock, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The animals of Cody Yellowstone don’t need to look at a menu — they rely on instinct to feed themselves and know the diet they require to remain healthy. If you feed the animals, they may begin to rely on humans for their food, thus damaging the ecosystem. Food you assume to be healthy may, in fact, be harmful or even toxic to an animal’s digestive system. We love our abundance of wildlife and want to ensure their populations thrive for many generations. Please help us with this mission by never feeding any wild animals. Feeding may also give them a false sense of security around humans, which could lead to future unwanted encounters or animals following visitors in search of a snack. Let the animals eat on their own terms. Cody offers an abundance of restaurant options for you to dine with your human companions! 

Bison Safety Tips

Wild Bison in Yellowstone National Park

Bison are perhaps the most famous residents of Yellowstone National Park, and historians believe the area is the only place in the United States where they have lived continuously since prehistoric times. The size of these majestic creatures should tell you all you need to know about their strength! Bison are the largest land mammal in North America, and adult males (bulls) weigh up to 2,000 pounds. While they may appear to be slow movers when they are grazing, they can run up to 35 miles per hour. That’s about the size and speed of a car, so you definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of a charging bison. Plus, male bison are equipped with sharp horns that they use to defend themselves. Make sure to keep a safe distance, as bison have been known to gore humans if they feel threatened.

Bear Safety Tips

Cinnamon Black Bear

Yellowstone is famously associated with a funny cartoon bear. However, the real-life versions of our ursine residents are less wise-cracking and more ferocious predators! Yellowstone is one of the only areas south of Canada that is home to both black bears and grizzly bears. Neither species should ever be approached closely by humans. The National Park Service provides excellent guidelines for keeping safe when in the presence of bears, and we would encourage you to review them and play an active role in your own safety. At the very top of their list: “Keep at least 100 yards (93 m) from bears at all times and never approach a bear to take a photo.” A photo is never worth risking your health and safety. Remember to pack your telephoto lens if you’re hoping to capture clear images of these beautiful beasts.

Wolf Safety Tips

Hungry wolf going through sage brush in Yellowstone

Gray wolves may remind you of your family dog, but don’t expect to pet them or play fetch! While there are only around 500 gray wolves throughout the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, there is a chance you may spot a wild pack while exploring the park. Wolves are generally not a danger to humans and tend to keep their distance unless they’re offered food. Make sure to never feed Yellowstone’s wolves to maintain this healthy fear. The National Park Service provides information about Yellowstone’s wolves as well as important safety tips. Review these before your visit to ensure a safe journey.

One Final Important Tip: Have Fun!

Viewing Yellowstone’s abundant wildlife can be an awesome learning experience, a memorable sightseeing expedition, and most of all, a fun-filled adventure! Follow the dos and don’ts outlined in this guide to help make sure your fun is not interrupted by any frightening close encounters — for you or the animals. 

Start planning your Great American Adventure to our untamed wilderness today!