Yellowstone Wild is a local guiding service offering custom wildlife tours in Yellowstone National Park. We specialize in crafting personalized educational experiences with Yellowstone’s iconic wildlife, natural history and geology. Our highly-experienced naturalist guides and top-of-the-line equipment produce the highest quality wildlife sightings and wilderness excursions. Deep personal knowledge of Yellowstone’s wolves, bears, bison and other treasures fuel our teachings, which appeal to all ages. Our tours consistently prove to be meaningful and memorable to our guests, and we remain the highest-ranked outdoor activity at the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana.
(See our Trip Advisor reviews here https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g45184-Activities-c61-Gardiner_Montana.html)
Each Yellowstone Wild guide has years of experience sharing the wonders of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We specialize in educational wildlife watching, day hikes, multi-day backpacking excursions, fly fishing, photography, geology, and winter tracking programs, and we offer specialized family-oriented tours to engage your young adventurers in discovering the wonders and beauty of Nature. Our tours are often focused on viewing and learning about Yellowstone’s dynamic wildlife, most notably wolves. Wolves are our passion, and they are what draw many of our guests to Yellowstone — partly because the Park Service successfully restored the grey wolf to Yellowstone in 1995-1996 in perhaps the greatest achievement of wildlife management in history, and partly because this is the best place in the world to see wild wolves. Our guiding service is especially well-suited for viewing Yellowstone wolves because our guides have years of experience following their movements and social dynamics on a daily basis. On our tours, it is common to witness a pack of wolves galloping across Yellowstone’s vast landscapes, hunting their wild prey, or traveling to and from their dens to feed their playful puppies. In the unforgettable beauty of a Yellowstone dawn, we often hear wolves howling across the breathtaking expanses of Yellowstone’s famed Northern Range.
We custom-build each expedition into the world’s first national park around your interests and expectations, and we fill your day with our intimate knowledge and personal experiences with the magical landscapes, wildlife, and geological wonders throughout Yellowstone. Each day in Yellowstone is different and special in its own way. This place is truly wild — it is Nature at its purest extremes, without restraint or control, and within that wildness lies Yellowstone’s unique beauty. Our tours are not scripted or filled with canned jokes and rehearsed speeches. Each tour is a unique full day of authentic adventure into North America’s most prized wilderness, carefully crafted specifically for you by your highly-experienced naturalist guide and shaped by Yellowstone’s very own unprecedented wild spirit and the special surprises that Yellowstone bestows upon us each day.
Meet Our Team
Emil was raised on a remote ranch in the mountains of southern Colorado, where from a very early age he developed a deep interest in the wildlife and wild places around him. As a child growing up in a wilderness environment, he spent much of his youth exploring the natural world and taught himself to track and observe the wildlife in the mountains and forests near his home. Emil earned a Bachelor´s degree in biology with an emphasis in ecology from Colorado College. He studied carnivore ecology on campus and abroad, and in 1997 he began formal field research in Costa Rica with leading jaguar scientists. Shortly after college he studied mountain lions in Yellowstone National Park, and gained valuable first-hand experience with Yellowstone´s amazing wildlife. Emil then spent an instrumental winter snow-tracking wolves through the Northwoods of Michigan, before attending graduate school to earn a Master´s of Science degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management from Humboldt State University. His graduate studies included five years of field research on mountain lion feeding ecology. Emil has authored many scientific publications and educational articles and taught courses on traditional and modern animal tracking.
Emil´s work to study and conserve wild carnivores has taken him to many unique locations throughout North and Central America, Europe, Southern Africa and the Saharan Deserts of Morocco. Prior to returning to Yellowstone, he spent five years working for the European Union on the reintroduction and conservation of the Iberian lynx, the world´s most endangered wild cat, in the Sierra Morena Mountains of Spain and Portugal.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Tyrene fell in love with Yellowstone and its ecological diversity during her first visit to fish in the park in 1996, while pursuing a BFA in Acting in Ashland, Oregon. It was a life changing experience, and in 2002, she made the choice to give up her dreams of Broadway to live the dream of moving to Yellowstone. Since 2007, Tyrene has worked in the park as an Interpretive guide, snowcoach driver, fly-fishing guide & instructor, Interpretive Trainer, and outdoor educator. Tyrene finds inspiration in guiding both new and seasoned park visitors to find a deep and personal connection to Yellowstone as well as encouraging them to discover what wildness means to them.
Tyrene’s greatest joy is the timeless beauty of a day on a river, and she spends as much time as possible in the backcountry of Yellowstone and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness searching for wildlife (not just fish!), wildflowers, and her next great adventure. She passionately believes that fostering education through fun, interactive, hands-on experiences has the power to inspire change, increase understanding of, and develop a voice for, our wild places.
Chelsea is a born-and-raised Yellowstone-area resident who grew up alongside thermal features and free-roaming bison on the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake. Chelsea’s family eventually moved to the North Entrance community of Gardiner, Montana, where she and her sister attended Gardiner Public School. Upon graduating, Chelsea temporarily traded the wilds of Yellowstone for a career reporting and writing in the urban jungle.
Chelsea earned a bachelor of arts in print journalism from the University of Montana and had work published in a variety of publications over the course of the next decade ranging from the Missoulian to the Portsmouth Herald to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. She’s also had work published in magazines including Rediscover Montana, OM Yoga & Lifestyle, and Northern Arizona Mountain Living. She continues to freelance write educational blogs for the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce’s web site and travel guide and interpretive retail text for Yellowstone National Park’s non-profit partner, Yellowstone Forever.
Chelsea left the world of journalism in 2008 to pursue a decade-long career as a Grand Canyon river guide during summer and ski and wildlife-watching guide during winter. Today, she is fortunate to combine her dual passions of writing and helping visitors experience and enjoy the natural world – in particular, the national parks.
Kristi Johnson originally hailed from Kitsap Peninsula in Washington. It was there in her youth that she was never to be found once school was out because she was always in the thick woods that surrounded her house and community either on foot, or on horse. She developed a strong knowledge of the natural world that existed there, learning all about the plants, animals, geology, and climate of her home.
Completely on a whim in 2002, Kristi left Washington to take a summer job with the main concessionaire in the park, Xanterra. She has worked ever since in the ecosystem as a horse guide with Xanterra and Rockin HK Outfitters, and snowmobile guide & snowcoach driver for Xanterra and Two Top Snowmobiles. In her off time, she is still in the element somewhere either hiking in the summers or skiing in the winters.
Kristi has a great passion for this wonderful place and all that it has to show us. She is skilled in interpreting the landscapes, weather, and life that surround us, having spent near every day in the outdoors and strives every year to understand better the patterns in the wild that she finds. She has followed the stories that Yellowstone has to share and loves to share those stories with those that she meets.
Kyle Dudgeon is a naturalist, nature photographer, writer and guide with true passion and knowledge for the wildlife and wilderness of the American West. After pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in the Environmental Sciences in northern New York, Kyle found his home in Bozeman, Montana. It was here that he began several seasons of field work involving birds, spanning from the open prairies to the tall mountains across the state. Kyle discovered his true love for Yellowstone through numerous solo experiences throughout the park watching wildlife. Whether it be tracking great gray owls through dense, lodgepole pine forests in Yellowstone’s interior, or spending sub-zero mornings with American bison in Lamar Valley, Kyle is dedicated to his role of capturing the park’s essence through eyes and camera.
Through interpretive tours, Kyle strives to convey the importance of keeping our wild places wild, our flora and fauna thriving and our ecosystems as intact as the modern world will allow. What better place to do so than Yellowstone National Park?
Travis developed a passion for the natural world at an early age while growing up in Utah. After spending a year studying Forestry at Utah State, Travis just had to get out into the thick of things. He first worked in Yellowstone the summer of 1991 as a groundskeeper at Canyon Village. Following that summer, he joined the U.S. Navy for a “4 year enlistment”, which turned into a 20-year career. After retiring with an honorable discharge, Travis returned to Yellowstone in 2014 as an interpretive guide for the main park concessionaire. He now works summer and winter seasons in Yellowstone… because there’s no cooler place on the planet!
Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Ryan was exposed to the outdoors early on through family fishing and camping trips, one of which brought him to Yellowstone in the 6th grade. Getting his first job on a trail crew and spending weeks in the woods at a time really opened his eyes to true wildness. Once he finished high school, Ryan moved east and started his Yellowstone adventure in earnest; he has now been here for nearly half his life.
In his time in the world’s first national park, Ryan began mixing pleasure with work as a fishing guide on Yellowstone Lake. From then on he was hooked, turning a passion for the outdoors into a career of teaching about it for over a decade. From summers to winters Ryan’s message has remained nearly the same: “Keep it wild”.
Through his guiding career, Ryan has taken guests on a multitude of activities. In winters he has been a snowcoach driver and snowmobile guide, taking people cross country skiing and snowshoeing. In the summer months he has taken people on interpretive tours seeing Yellowstone’s wonders. He has also brought clients on adventures like hiking, rafting, fishing and even taken people by horseback to some almost-forgotten fly fishing spots. Having been requested to work with videographers from National Geographic and the BBC shows how professional and fluent Ryan is in his home away from home: Yellowstone!
Rob was first captivated by the grandeur of Yellowstone as a 9-year-old on a family vacation. Over the next two decades, the pull of Yellowstone grew ever stronger as he racked up hundreds of miles exploring the trails of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. When yearly trips were no longer enough to satisfy the Yellowstone craving, he decided it was time to make the park his home. Rob spent 3 seasons working in the park before relocating to Gardiner permanently to guide full-time. He is passionate about sharing Yellowstone’s eminent wildlife, geology, and natural history with others.
In addition to guiding, Rob is an avid landscape photographer, climber, and all-around lover of mountains. On his days off, he can be found exploring the deep backcountry of Yellowstone and the Beartooth Mountains, climbing in the Tetons, and capturing photos of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s world-class scenery.
Rob is a Certified Interpretive Guide and Certified Wilderness First Responder. He studied Outdoor Recreation Leadership & Management at Northern Michigan University.
Matt took the scenic route to Yellowstone and hasn’t left. After obtaining a degree in Wildlife Biology from Illinois State University, Matt followed some great advice and headed west.
He worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife on projects restoring native cutthroat trout to mountain lakes throughout the Centennial State. At CPW he also contributed to projects involving monitoring burrowing owls, raptors, and songbirds. From Colorado he continued west living and working in Oregon and Alaska. Matt was the crew leader for a research project in the Alaskan bush on Kodiak Island focused on sockeye salmon. The crew spent the summer collecting data on the migration of the young salmon from the freshwater lake they were born in to the sea.
Making his way back to the lower 48 he landed in Yellowstone where he now lives, plays and works. Yellowstone is a playground for a naturalist like Matt. Between the bears, birds, wolves, weasels, and thermal features, he might never leave. Matt spends his summers hiking and recreating all over the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In winter Matt is a backcountry ski guide in Yellowstone doing multi day trips staying off the grid inside the park. He will bring a deep knowledge and enthusiasm of the natural world to your time in this magical place.
Laura first came to Yellowstone from Chicagoland on a whim in 2005 with a friend to work for a summer at Old Faithful before heading off to college. After graduating with a degree in Sociology, getting married and exploring the west for a little over a decade, Yellowstone beckoned with its sulfuric arm.
While reconnecting with the wildness of Yellowstone, Laura became a certified interpretive guide who enjoys sharing her knowledge about wildlife, imagining what the park looked like over millions of years of geologic history, and discovering some of Mother Nature’s hidden secrets.
In winter, Laura works as a backcountry ski guide, loves identifying small scurrying critters’ tracks, and venturing out into seemingly untouched wilderness. She is trained in avalanche safety and ready to explore this enchanting part of our world together.
Since 2003 Luz has been visiting, living, and working in Yellowstone. Starting as hostess at Roosevelt Lodge and most recently working as an interpretive park ranger for the National Park Service, Luz’s background provides a unique local and professional perspective on Yellowstone’s captivating wildlife, history, and geothermal features. Receiving her undergraduate degree in history at Montana State University, Luz’s passion for human history extending back to 12,000 years ago in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem inspires her to be mindful of those who inhabited Yellowstone before it became a national park. In addition to her interest in Yellowstone’s history, Luz has dedicated years to protecting and educating visitors on the wildlife found in Yellowstone. When she is not working in the park, she is typically found on a stream with a fly rod in one hand and a rainbow trout in the other.
After growing up in Syracuse, New York, Aleksa stayed fairly close to home for a few years after graduation. With a degree in Wildlife Science from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry under her belt, she studied small mammals and visitor use of trails in the heart of the Adirondacks starting in 2018. She even had a stint helping to bring back the suffering American chestnut tree through genetic engineering. Eventually, Aleksa started to wonder if New York was truly where she wanted to be, and she visited Yellowstone for the first time with her mother in 2021.
Trading the High Peaks of New York for the Rocky Mountains after that eye-opening visit, Aleksa is ready to experience all things big and small in Yellowstone full time. While she loves the larger animals of the park, insects, birds, amphibians, and all of the “little guys” continue to captivate her. When she is not birdwatching or hiking, you can usually find Aleksa hunched close to the ground, marveling at the creepy-crawlies of the world.
Carolyn has been exploring, learning about, and sharing her passion for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for over two decades. She first observed wild wolves in Yellowstone in 2002, watching the famed Druid Peak Pack successfully hunt an elk in Lamar Valley – an experience that fueled a lifelong passion for observing, studying, and teaching about wolves. While studying Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management with emphases in ecology and cultural anthropology at Northern Michigan University, Carolyn spent her summers working in the park and moved here to become a full-time naturalist guide upon graduation.
Carolyn’s professional experiences in Yellowstone have been diverse: She has volunteered on snow tracking surveys with the Yellowstone Cougar Project and as an interpretive ranger with the National Park Service, and she has spent countless days leading classes on topics ranging from hiking and backpacking to nature journaling and wolf research through the Yellowstone Institute. Her favorite tours to lead are wolf-focused tours, because wolves challenge all of us to re-envision our relationship with wild places in Yellowstone and beyond. As a certified trainer of interpretive guides through the National Association for Interpretation, she enjoys teaching new guides the art and science of naturalist guiding.
During her free time, Carolyn enjoys hiking, backpacking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, tracking and filming cougars, and otherwise immersing herself in the land around her. She lives in Gardiner, MT, with her husband and daughter.
Virginia comes to Yellowstone from a long history in outdoor education and the Girl Scouts. She first worked in the park in 2012, thinking it would be just a fun one- summer job. But after falling in love with the animals, the thermals, and even the lodgepole pines, she never left! Virginia has worked for 8 years as a Yellowstone Naturalist, working with families, teachers, school groups and everyone in between. In the Girl Scouts, she has worked as a summer camp counselor and Leadership Director, and as an international volunteer and Leadership Seminar facilitator. Virginia is a Certified Interpretive Guide, a Leave No Trace Trainer, and a Wilderness First Responder. After the initial shock of her first -30° Yellowstone winter days, this California girl now thrives in the winter and lives for summer hikes and paddle trips. She uses her degree in theater to make science and the outdoors come alive for students of all ages!
After starting her pet photography business in the Twin Cities of Minnesota back in 2009, Jess soon found herself in a world deeply immersed in international travel. She was lucky enough to photograph horses in New Zealand, dairy cows in Portugal, chickens in France, and cats in Spain. Not to mention the beautiful, magical world afar for those several years. After moving and settling in Montana in 2018, she switched her focus to learning and exploring the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem plus photographing the adventurous people who come to visit via her business Chocolate Moose Images. Since then, she has had the privilege to work with hundreds of travelers and locals to give them a personal piece of Yellowstone they can treasure forever.
Jess feels incredibly strongly about the power of images. She says, “When you look at an image of your favorite people doing the most simple or extreme things, are you transported back to that moment? To those feelings? … I know I am! That is the incredible beauty of images. They allow for time travel. You can find my full range of thoughts about the importance of remembering HERE. For now, trust that photographs such as these are something no one will regret.”