Henry H. Holdsworth/wildbynaturegallery.com: Gray wolves, Elk herd, Soda Butte creek, Bull moose, Firehose Geyser Ben Forbes: Bison Eric Rock: Guide with scope, Snowshoeing group Paul Brown: Howling wolf
Paula Scherbroeck: Inline pack running
An Exclusive Winter Wildlife Expedition Deep into Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Frequently Asked Questions
The best time to see wolves in Yellowstone is the peak of winter. Wolves are some of the most elusive creatures in North America; however, the open snow-covered expanses of the Lamar Valley provide maximum possible viewing opportunities. Also, the off season is much less crowded than the summer season, so we have greater mobility to view the wolves.
The Lamar Valley of Yellowstone’s northern range is the best spot on the planet for wolf viewing. Due to the area’s wide-open expanses, our views of the animals are unimpeded, allowing for clear viewing from any distance.
Wolves are characteristically elusive, but the intentional off-season timing of this trip, our relationship with researchers, and the special design of our safari trucks maximize our chances for encounters with the animals. Over the past several decades we have operated hundreds and hundreds of departures and have seen wolves on all but a handful. At times these sightings are relatively close, and at other times the wolves are spotted at a great distance. You never know with nature!
Because this experience is 100 percent wild, we never know exactly how we will encounter the wolves. As they are typically very elusive animals and tend to keep their distance from humans, and because it is vital that we do not disturb their natural behaviors, much of our viewing happens from a distance, often using spotting scopes to observe their behavior across the vast expanse of Lamar Valley. There may also be times when we will have fleeting, close-up encounters, where the animals will surprise us and appear within very close range.
Aside from wolves, we are likely to see coyote, bison, bald eagles, red fox, elk, pronghorn and moose.
Nat Hab has created customized Mercedes Sprinter vans specifically for wildlife viewing in this U.S. national park. These vehicles are particularly good for wolf watching as they are spacious (they hold 12 guests, but we limit our capacity to 7). They have comfortable seats, and they keep us warm in the wolves’ cold natural environment. On most trips we use two vans, each driven by an Expedition Leader, so that we can cover more ground and share information on wolf locations.
In winter, Yellowstone country is snowy and frigid, as temperatures often dip below 0°F. Warm outerwear is an absolute necessity to remain comfortable when you’ll be outside the vehicles viewing wolves. Your packing list should reflect the unpredictable nature of the cold of Yellowstone, including multiple warm layers, thermal under layers, hats and gloves. A winter parka and warm boots will be provided, so you will not have to make unnecessary purchases, but feel free to bring your own if you have them. For further details of what to bring, peruse this helpful packing list and check out Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure.
On our Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolves & Wildlife trip we take 14 guests in two safari trucks. On the photo tour version of that trip we take 12 guests in two trucks. On our Wolf Quest trip, we take 14 guests in two trucks. On all trips each vehicle is filled well below capacity so each guest will have a window seat.
Natural Habitat rates the physical requirements of this trip as “easy to moderate.” The primary physical strain comes from Yellowstone’s cold temperatures, which, when combined with long days, can be physically draining. The itinerary also includes options for some light snowshoe experiences that can be up to 1 mile long. Please click here for further details of the physical requirements of this trip.
Our Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolves & Wildlife Safari includes two and a half days in the Lamar Valley tracking wolves with additional time exploring Mammoth Hot Springs and Grand Teton National Park—one of the most beautiful spots in North America, especially in the wintertime. The Western Route itinerary stays in individual cabins in West Yellowstone. The Wolf Quest trip is focused nearly exclusively on wolf watching and spends five full days in Lamar Valley, maximizing our chances to see the mystifying gray wolves on many different occasions. Our special photo safari is a longer version of Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolves & Wildlife Safari.
On our Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolves & Wildlife Safari, we have regular departures and special photography departures. Aside from being one day longer, the photo tours tend to begin a little earlier in the morning, and we will stay out a little later to take advantage of the better light for photography. We will also linger a longer at sightings so that guests can have a better chance to capture that perfect image. Though the Wolf Quest trip is not specifically deemed solely for photographers, we do tend to get keen photographers on board as the focus is so strongly on wolves.
Internet access will be available at all our accommodations but is slow in Cooke City. There is no cell service in the northern range of Yellowstone. With the focus of our trips on immersive nature and wildlife experiences, Nat Hab encourages minimizing the use of electronics, so we ask guests to refrain from using technology during group activities.
The required minimum age on these Yellowstone trips is 12. Nat Hab asks any families bringing teenagers to ensure that their teens behave in a respectful manner that does not disrupt other guests or the wildlife. If you’re looking for a trip designed specifically for children, teens and families, check out our collection of Family Adventures.
Yes! Families or friend groups can reserve entire departures on a private basis. Please call our office at 800-543-8917 to get details on group size and pricing.
This Yellowstone trip begins in Jackson, Wyoming and ends Bozeman, Montana, or it can run in reverse (beginning in Bozeman and ending in Jackson). Guests are responsible for making their own travel arrangements from their home city to Jackson or Bozeman, and from Jackson or Bozeman back to their home city, depending on the itinerary. Please check the Getting There & Getting Home section on the Dates, Prices & Info page for details on required arrival and departure times for this adventure.
Bozeman is situated in the Rocky Mountains. Its 45,000 residents give the town a laidback, outdoorsy character. Highlighted destinations for visitors are the Museum of the Rockies, the Gallatin History Museum, and various shops and restaurants along main street. Hiking and biking trails around the area include Peets Hill, Burke Park and Dinosaur Park.
Jackson is located in the heart of the Jackson Hole Valley. The town of Jackson, Wyoming, is home to three surrounding ski resorts, which give the town its strong, outdoorsy, skiing identity. The National Elk Refuge, George Washington Memorial Park, Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art are fun places to check out if you arrive a day or two early.
Nat Hab is happy to reserve a hotel room for you in Bozeman or Jackson before your Yellowstone tour begins, but please note that pre-nights are subject to availability at the time of booking.