Jackson Hole plays host to some of the most spectacular wildlife in the lower 48 states, but nature offers no guarantees. Some of the most iconic species in the region are notoriously shy. Below, we highlight a few top secret wildlife watching tips and hot spots (including our favorite, the Snake River!) to help increase your odds of victory in the Serengeti of North America.
Tips for Jackson Hole Wildlife Watching:
1) Don’t approach the animals—Wild animals are just that: wild. Don’t be the visitor who is involved in an unfortunate incident with a bear or bison while trying to take a photo. The National Park Service recommends maintaining a distance of at least 100 yards from predators and 25 yards from everything else.
2) Dawn and dusk are best—Many of Jackson Hole’s charismatic species are most active in the early morning and early evening. For wildlife photographers, that means the perfect photo in the magic hour. For drivers, that means increased risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Slow down and pay attention!
3) Spring and fall are best—Time your visits to coincide with local wildlife migrations for a better chance of viewing elk, bison, pronghorn and many other species.
What: Bald eagles, waterfowl, moose, elk, river otters, etc.
When: Spring, Summer, Fall
Description: Take a float trip with Barker-Ewing Whitewater and let your guide show you the dozens of species that call the Snake River corridor home.
Where: Miller Butte, Elk Refuge Road, the National Elk Refuge
What: Bighorn Sheep
Description: The National Elk Refuge abounds with wildlife viewing opportunities, but one of the most rewarding involves a trip out on Elk Refuge Road to watch bighorn sheep on Miller Butte.
What: Bison, elk, everything
When: Spring for baby bison
Description: This iconic loop in the east part of Grand Teton National Park is known for lots of wildlife. In the spring watch for baby bison. They’re the bright orange/red bundles of cute at the center of the herd.