National Park Service/Public Domain

Gray wolf howls can carry for miles, and sometimes a lone wolf will howl to find fellow pack members. ©National Park Service

Wolves are capable of many vocalizations, including barks, growls, moans, snarls, whimpers, whines and yelps. But even though they make these sounds a lot more often than they howl, it is that sustained, doleful cry that seems to define the wolf for most of us.

Howling keeps members of a pack physically together. Because wolves range over vast areas to find food, they often get separated from one another. Of all their calls, howling is the only one that carries over long distances. Its typical low pitch and long duration are well suited for transmission through forests and across tundras. Unique features of each animal’s howl allow wolves to identify each other, and now—with the help of new advances in software programs—we humans are able to distinguish individual voices, as well.

Listen to the two examples of wolf howls below. The first is a gray wolf (timber wolf) chorus howl, interspersed with whines. The second is a howl from a single wolf. Whatever messages the wolves were communicating in these recordings, these “songs” are guaranteed to touch your soul—still today, as they have for millennia.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,


For an opportunity to hear and see wolves in the wild, take a look at our U.S. national park tours to Yellowstone and our Alaska trips.