Few are the places where luxury works to complement the majestic rather than obscure it. Tour any of the parks and monuments that stretch across Wyoming, and you’ll find no views obstructed, no spaces impeded, no creatures or critters displaced — but rather, a place still as Western as it’s always been. Soak it up all you can; comfort awaits you at the end of the day’s journey: an exceptional meal, a glass of wine by a firepit beneath the stars, a hand-quilted bed. Everything as it should be — nothing more, nothing less.
Wyoming has seemingly endless places to witness wildlife in its natural habitat, from national parks and forests to wildlife refuges. Use the wildlife-watching hotspots below as a starting place for seeing the state’s bison, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles and much more.
Needing no introduction, Yellowstone National Park is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. From the road you’re likely to spot plenty of bison and elk, but venturing into the back country might earn you sightings of grizzly bears, black bears, moose, gray wolves, bighorn sheep, coyotes, pronghorn, bald eagles and plenty of other wild creatures. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and guided snowmobile trips offer wildlife watching in the crisp serenity of winter.
Like its larger neighbor to the north, Grand Teton National Park’s abundant wildlife is legendary. The park’s diverse landscape provides habitats for a wide range of animals, including black bears, grizzly bears, moose, elk, coyotes, bison, mule deer, river otters, bald eagles, golden eagles, sage grouse, trumpeter swans and much more. For a guaranteed wintertime elk sighting, visit the National Elk Refuge, just south of the park, where 7,500 migrating elk spend each winter.
North of the town of Green River, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge borders 36 miles along the banks of the river of the same name. In the otherwise arid Southwestern Region, the river provides a lush oasis for 220 species of birds and other wildlife. Drive, hike or kayak through the refuge for the chance to spot bald eagles, trumpeter swans, moose, mule deer, white-tailed jackrabbits, coyotes, foxes and more.
Two scenic byways offer spectacular views and access to the wildlife-rich Big Horns. The 47-mile Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway connects the towns of Worland and Buffalo and passes through Ten Sleep, while the 58-mile Bighorn Scenic Byway winds from Shell east toward Sheridan. Explore either road and keep an eye out for elk, mule deer, white-tail deer, coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, wild turkeys, sage grouse and bald and golden eagles.
Moose, elk, mule deer, beaver, black bear, bobcat and coyote are just a few of the species that make their homes in Medicine Bow National Forest, which encompasses the mountain range known as the “Snowies.” Travel through high mountain passes and past stunning lakes while looking for wildlife along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, which composes a section of Highway 130 between Laramie and Saratoga in the Southeast Region.
Connecting Green River and Rock Springs in the Southwest Region, the 24-mile Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop is one of the best places in the country to experience the thrill of watching a galloping herd of wild horses. The gravel road takes you through an area in which an estimated 1,500 horses roam along with pronghorn, elk, deer rabbits and birds.
Popular with mountain bikers and hikers in the summer and skiers and snowmobilers in the winter, Casper Mountain looms about 3,000 feet above the town of Casper. The sprawling mountain is also a mecca for those looking for wildlife. Explore one of the public trails and you might spot mule deer, elk, pronghorn, foxes, badgers, black bears, bald eagles and dozens of species of birds.
Part of the Black Hills National Forest, the Bear Lodge Mountains in Northwest Wyoming provide a gorgeous playground for both human visitors and a diverse array of animals. The town of Sundance makes a great base camp for exploring the rugged landscape and looking for mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, marmots, mountain lions and more.
Arid deserts aren’t often known as prime habitat for wild animals, but Southwestern Wyoming’s Red Desert is the exception. Its 6 million acres of sand dunes and buttes are home to 350 species of wildlife, including the largest migratory herd of pronghorn in the contiguous U.S. and the world’s largest herd of rare desert elk. You also might spy an endangered black-footed ferret as well as pygmy rabbits, wild horses, coyotes and prairie dogs.
The Wind River Range comprises a landscape of high peaks (35 of which reach more than 13,000 feet in elevation), lush valleys, more than 1,300 lakes and the wild Wind River, making it a postcard-worthy setting for backcountry wildlife watching. Hike one of the plentiful trails and look for moose, elk, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves and mountain lions. More tame-hearted visitors can visit the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center in Dubois, which is dedicated to educating the public and preserving the local bighorn sheep habitat.
This itinerary is compliments of Wyoming Travel & Tourism.