Yellowstone is perfect for family trips, any time of year. Children have a natural fascination with Nature, and we passionately explore Yellowstone’s wonders with them to create memorable learning experiences.
Winter Wolves and Wildlife Watching
Duration: 6 – 8 hours
Ages: Recommended for ages 5+
Meeting Locations: Gardiner, MT, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Buffalo Ranch
Further information: Private & customizable
- 1 person
- 2 people
- 3 people
- 4 people
- 5 people
- 6 people
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- 9 people
- 10 people
Yellowstone in Winter with a Private Wildlife Guide
Yellowstone National Park is world-famous for its abundance of iconic wildlife, stunning vistas and historic conservation efforts to restore wolves and bison. 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, bison, moose and other treasures fuel our teachings, which appeal to all ages. We specialize in crafting personalized educational experiences with Yellowstone’s iconic wildlife, natural history and ecology around your interests and expectations. Our tours consistently prove to be meaningful and memorable to our guests.
Winter is a special time to experience wildlife in Yellowstone, as the deep snows have pushed the wildlife out of the higher country, concentrating animals on the famed Lamar Valley and Yellowstone’s Northern Range. Thousands of elk and bison fill the lower-elevation valleys and grasslands. Abundant bighorn sheep, mule deer, whitetail deer, pronghorn and moose also filter out of the mountains and concentrate where there is less snow, milder temperatures and easier foraging. This migration places them where we can best observe them and observe the predators that come here to hunt them.
Our guides track the movements and behavior of Yellowstone wildlife almost daily and know the best places to find the animals you hope to see. Your guide will interpret the behaviors you observe and share stories about the wolf packs and individual wolves that we have gotten to know over the years of observing them. You will walk through visual examples of how animals live in this beautiful landscape, what their relationships are like with the other animals and plants around them and why certain animals might live in one place over another.
- Experience the magic of Yellowstone’s iconic wildlife
- Your own local wildlife guide
- Private and fully customizable tours
- Small, single-party groups
- Away from the crowds and into the wild
- Vast wide open spaces and clean mountain air
- Breakfast and lunch – picnic style
- Optics for EVERYONE
- Safe, fun and educational
For more information please visit our FAQ page!
Looking for a completely customized Yellowstone trip? We can plan a trip that is just what you’re looking for. Reach out to us!
Your tour includes:
• Full-day (8 hour) private guided tour
• Local naturalist guide
• Transportation in our fully equipped touring vehicle (we drive, you enjoy the scenery)
• Plenty of space for your extra clothing – please bring warm clothing (see “What to Bring” list)
• Optics for everyone- top-of-the-line binoculars and high-powered spotting scopes for all
• Breakfast pastries and hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot cocoa)
• Healthy and hearty snacks and beverages
• Full picnic lunch spread
• Dynamic and engaging discussions interpret the wildlife activity and behavior observed
• Informed and accurate information on the biology and conservation issues surrounding the wildlife you will observe
Gratuity is NOT included in the price of the tour. Tipping your guide is a common practice in North America, and tips are an important part of their income.
What to bring:
Yellowstone possesses some of the most extreme weather conditions anywhere. Temperatures on any given tour could range from -40°F to +40°F (-40°C to +10°C). We therefore recommend plenty of warm clothes that can be layered and easily removed; therefore, allowing you to adjust and stay comfortable throughout your tour.
Here are our suggestions and what our guides wear on winter tours:
- Long underwear. Starting with your base layers, synthetic or wool long underwear tops and bottoms are critical to your comfort (we can find places to shed this layer later in the day if necessary). Please stay away from cotton, which can hold moisture and drastically chill the body, whereas wool and synthetics wick moisture and can even insulate while wet.
- Sweater or fleece. Ideally more than one layer of insulating layers like fleece or wool sweaters will allow for effective layering and allows you to easily shed layers as the day warms up.
- Fleece or down vest. Vests are great as a layering item that can really hold in core body temperature, yet also allow for maximum comfort and mobility.
- A windproof and water repellent insulated jacket is your most important protection from the biting Wyoming winds. Gore-Tex or something similar is highly advised as the best moisture/wind barrier and goose down insulation is the best insulation.
- Snow pants/ski pants – Insulted pants with moisture/wind barrier. You should have long underwear thermal layers in addition.
- Heavy gloves or mittens with windproof barrier.
- Warm hat that covers your ears. We lose tremendous body heat from our heads. Protect your ears from the chilly wind with a wool or fleece hat.
- Warm wool or synthetic socks are key to keeping those toes from hampering your good time. Be sure you have plenty of wiggle room inside your boots. If your socks are too thick and fit too tightly in your boots, you will actually reduce blood flow to your feet, resulting in cold toes, regardless of how warm your socks are.
- Insulated winter boots (roomy boots are better as you do not want to restrict circulation in your feet/toes) (see below for boot recommendations).
- Hand and toe/foot warmers. These are lifesavers! We advise everyone to place a full-sized foot warmer inside your boots every morning before the tour. This keeps the edge off and keeps you comfortable to be able to enjoy yourself to the fullest during those hard-earned wildlife encounters! Toe and hand warmers can be used as needed
- With high elevation sun, many of us burn easily, especially when we are distracted by something like watching wolves for extended periods of time.
- Even if you are not a serious photographer, a camera is nice to have on tour.
- A day pack is very handy for personal items: hand and toe warmers, water bottle, sunglasses, camera, and of course for all the extra layers you will want.
There are several ways you can go for boots: the insulated rubber “muck” boots that farmers and ranchers like. These are slip on boots that come in varying levels of insulation (up to -50 degrees). They are fine for short walks, but you would not want them for full-day hikes. For the purpose of this trip, they would be fine. Good brands there are Muck and LaCrosse. These are probably the best bang for your buck.
The other option is a lace up insulated boot. There are lots of them on the market and you could spend a lot for a boot that you may never use again.
Here is a link with discussion about boots recommended for Antarctica tours. https://www.coolantarctica.com/Shop/antarctica-clothing/antarctic-boots.php
If you need to order boots, you could have them shipped here, and we will have them on hand for you when you arrive, not a problem at all. Just let us know.
Yellowstone National Park is a very large place divided by mountain ranges, deep valleys and a massive lake. The weather within the 2.2 million acres can vary widely, so checking the weather in the park can be a difficult task. We recommend checking several different NOAA weather stations around the park, and working an average of those if you’re planning to travel around the entirety of the park.
Can you expect to see all the wildlife you hope for?
It is important to remember that the wild animals we seek to observe are exactly that, WILD free-ranging animals that can roam across all of Yellowstone’s vast and rugged 2.2 million acres. The probability of locating and observing them is greatly elevated due to your guide’s intimate personal familiarity with the landscape and the animals themselves. We do not guarantee any wildlife sightings on our tours; however, we will guarantee that your guide will use their knowledge, skills, and network of other guides, wildlife watchers and photographers to do everything we can to find you the animals you’d like to see. We are in the park nearly every day searching for and watching wildlife, and that consistent experience pays off in finding the animals you’ve traveled to see.
Park Rules and the Yellowstone Wild Code of Ethics
As a licensed Commercial Use Permit holder with Yellowstone National Park, we must follow all park rules and regulations. Additionally, as life-long proponents of wildlife and wild places, we will also follow our own ethical wildlife viewing practices. We will take this opportunity to teach you about how we can have the very best viewing and photography opportunities possible without having negative impacts on wildlife by respecting the animals’ space and movements as they go about their lives.
While on tour with Yellowstone Wild LLC, we will observe the following park rules (subject to law
- Keep at least 25 yards from all wildlife
- Keep at least 100 yards from wolves and bears
- Avoid remaining near or approaching wildlife, including birds, at any distance that disturbs or displaces
It is our ethical responsibility as visitors to the park to make sure that our actions do not inflict undue stress or hardship upon the animals that we are observing. Wild animals in a natural setting do not have easy lives, and the last thing we want to do is make their lives any more difficult. Your guide is an expert at reading animal behavior, and the moment that our presence is bothering an animal, we MUST back off until we are no longer disturbing its natural behavior. Failure to promptly respond to your guide’s instructions to back away from wildlife may result in the termination of your tour, subject to the discretion of your guide.
This is where our optics prove invaluable. We use only the finest quality Swarovski and Vortex spotting scopes so that we can thoroughly enjoy our wildlife sightings at a distance that allows the animals to carry on about their business, as if we were not there. In fact, much of the time they probably don’t know we are there, yet our high powered and crystal clear optics give us an up-close and personal view. Furthermore, we must be mindful of any animal feeding on or resting near a carcass. Approaching such an area may drive the animal(s) away and deprive them of valuable food. It is important to remember that a carcass is regularly scavenged upon by any number of other animals, including grizzly bears, who will violently defend such a food source. Approaching such an area is strictly prohibited and can seriously put people and wildlife in danger. Finally, it is important to be mindful of the other park visitors and biologists who may also be observing the same animals. We promote quiet, respectful behavior to maximize everyone’s wild Yellowstone experience.
Custom Portrait Adventure Photography Package
Yellowstone Wild is proud to partner with Jess at Chocolate Moose Images to offer a unique custom portrait photography package as a special add-on option for your tour. If you are visiting Yellowstone to celebrate an important milestone in your life (anniversary, birthday, honeymoon or graduation) or are simply on a much-needed family trip, our Portrait Adventure Photography Package is designed to capture your special moment. Jess specializes in classic portraits as well as highly candid photographs in and around Yellowstone National Park. She has a special gift for capturing genuine moments that vividly portray personality and emotion – and in a setting like Yellowstone, personality and emotion shine bright!
Jess will visit with you before your tour to develop a rapport, share ideas with one another and discuss how her photo shoot works. She will then join us on your tour out in the wilds of Yellowstone. She works discretely to capture meaningful moments of you exploring Yellowstone, while also keeping her trained eye open for the perfect Yellowstone-themed backdrop for your portraits. To see a sample of images from a winter tour, please visit the gallery here. If you have more specific questions about how to customize this for your adventure, please reach out to Jess.
Cost: $689 including a candid session on tour and a slightly more formal session (time to be arranged).
Final products: In total, she’ll spend between 3-5 hours with your family providing around 70 images in an online gallery. Printing services are available and highly encouraged.