photo credit: Bill Sincavage

Winter Wildlife in Wyoming

Winter wildlife viewing in Wyoming supplies opportunities to see elk, bison and maybe even an otter or two — if you’re willing to don layers, warm footgear and a big smile. Read on to find out where you can see Wyoming’s creatures in their snowy habitats.

Yellowstone National Park 
Fewer crowds, deep snow and cooler temperatures make winter the best time to see wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. You can almost count on seeing frosty-faced bison as they warm near Yellowstone’s thermal areas and watching deer wander through Lamar Valley, known as the “Little Serengeti of America.”

It’s even possible to catch a glimpse of otters sliding in and out of openings in frozen Yellowstone Lake. Other animals you might see include pronghorn antelope, bull elk, bald eagles, bighorn sheep and coyotes. Learn more about visiting Yellowstone in winter.

The National Elk Refuge
The National Elk Refuge is a winter sanctuary for Jackson’s elk herds and other wild friends such as bison, coyotes, wolves, eagles, ravens and magpies. Bighorn sheep can frequently be seen at Miller Butte within the refuge. 

Grand Teton National Park
Antelope Flats is another excellent place to catch a glimpse of wildlife in Grand Teton National Park. Look for bison, deer, elk, moose, antelope, coyotes, foxes and bald eagles. The Gros Ventre River area affords spectacular views of the Tetons and the chance to spot a moose.

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge 
Located in Sweetwater County, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is a migration corridor for many types of birds, including hawks, finches and trumpeter swans. The refuge is also the winter hangout of rabbits, beavers, porcupines, deer and pronghorn.

Because winter can be a rough time for the animals at Seedskadee, a few of the refuge’s roads are closed to vehicles in the winter to limit stress to inhabitants. Contact the refuge’s headquarters before visiting for more information.

National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center
At the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center in Dubois, life-sized dioramas and interactive exhibits tell the story of one of the region’s most beloved residents: the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The Whisky Mountain area just east of Dubois is the stomping ground of the largest wintering sheep herd in North America.

For a real treat, call the center to schedule a winter tour of nearby sheep herds. The areas where these majestic animals roam are also home to ancient petroglyphs carved by native tribes; see if you can spot ones depicting bighorn sheep.

Casper Mountain

With about 26 miles of groomed trails, the Casper Mountain area attracts snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers in the winter. The tree-lined trails offer optimum spots to catch roaming mule deer, a variety of birds and pristine views of the valley. The Casper Mountain Trail Center is a great place to warm up and grab a bite to eat.

Will you have a ‘Three Dog Day’? 
If you’re lucky enough to see a fox, wolf and coyote all in one day, that’s considered a “Three Dog Day.” Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and his producer/writing partner Dayton Duncan had one during their first winter trip to Yellowstone. The duo toured America’s first national park and saw a red fox dive into fresh snow, a pack of wolves make their presence known to a resting herd of bison and a team of coyotes on the side of the roadway. Will you be next?

Explore more winter activities here.