Yellowstone Tours

Lamar Valley

The Lamar Valley Stuns With Wide Open Landscapes And Alpine Backdrops During The Spring Season When It Is Covered In Shades Of Vibrant Greens

In general, the northern region of Yellowstone is a prime spot for observing wolves in their natural habitat. The Lamar Valley, in particular, attracts most wildlife enthusiasts due to its abundance of diverse fauna, earning it the nickname “the American Serengeti.” This area played a crucial role in the successful reintroduction of wolves to the park back in 1995 and 1996. During that time, 31 wolves were captured in the Canadian Rockies, brought to Yellowstone, and carefully acclimated in an enclosure before being released into the wild. This reintroduction effort laid the foundation for the present-day wolf population in the park, restoring balance to the ecosystem. Several wolf packs still call the Lamar Valley their home.

Although the Lamar Valley is widely regarded as the best location for wolf-watching in Yellowstone National Park, spotting these majestic canids is no simple feat. Wolf packs cover vast territories spanning hundreds of square miles and can travel up to 30 miles a day in search of food. Understanding their daily habits, knowing the whereabouts of their prey, and planning visits during specific seasons are all essential for increasing the chances of witnessing these valuable creatures. Therefore, having the assistance of a knowledgeable local guide is highly recommended!

Yellowstone Safari Company (YSC) has been dedicated to providing visitors with unforgettable experiences since 1991. Our tailored, premier wildlife tours focus on the thrill of discovering the diverse wildlife inhabiting Yellowstone National Park. We offer a range of tours that emphasize the pursuit of finding wolves in their natural habitat, along with expert guides eager to share extensive knowledge about this species and its crucial role in maintaining balance within one of the world’s largest intact ecosystems. The guides at Yellowstone Safari Company are exceptionally skilled in identifying wildlife hotspots and possess an unwavering passion for the natural world, which they eagerly share with their guests.

While July and August boast fair weather, they are not necessarily the ideal months for Lamar Valley wildlife observation, unless you’re opting for a multi-day tour that allows for early morning and late evening game drives. During these months, higher temperatures and dry conditions force most animals to seek better foraging and hunting opportunities in higher elevations. Therefore, fall, winter, and spring present the most opportune seasons for a wildlife safari. Many guides would readily recommend “winter” as the ultimate time for wolf-watching. As snowfall and freezing temperatures intensify, species like elk and deer descend from mountainous areas to valleys, drawing their predators, the wolves, along with them. Wolves are apex predators, and during the winter months their skills are on display in the hunting grounds of the Lamar Valley.

For those with only a single day to explore Yellowstone’s wonders, Yellowstone Safari Company offers fantastic options. We provide full-day vehicle-based tours during both summer and winter seasons, lasting 8-10 hours. Expert guides optimize the morning start by taking you to locations where you have the best chances of spotting bison, elk, moose, foxes, bighorn sheep, and, of course, the elusive gray wolf. The tour includes lunch, high-powered UHD binoculars, and spotting scopes, enabling wildlife watching from a safe distance.

If you wish to increase your chances of encountering a variety of wildlife and exploring more of Yellowstone’s vast preserved landscape, consider a multi-day trip. Yellowstone Safari Company offers multi-day tours throughout the year, with a focus on searching for wolves (and bears during summer) in the world’s first national park. With more time to spare, you can leisurely explore valleys, mountainsides, and forests, encountering diverse species, from massive bison to tiny short-tailed weasels. Accommodations provided with the tour are conveniently located near the northern entrances of Yellowstone, offering quick access to prime wolf-watching locations like the Lamar Valley.

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Where is the Lamar Valley?

The Lamar Valley is located in Yellowstone National Park, which spans across the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho in the United States. The Lamar Valley is situated in the northeastern part of the park, primarily in the state of Wyoming. It is known for its scenic beauty, diverse wildlife, and particularly as one of the best locations within the park to observe wolves in their natural habitat.

What is the best season for viewing wolves in the Lamar Valley?

The Lamar Valley offers different experiences throughout the year. Spring and summer are excellent for observing newborn animals and lush vegetation, while autumn provides opportunities to witness the stunning fall colors, mating displays and seasonal migrations. Winter offers a unique experience with snowy landscapes and the chance to see wolves in their prime hunting season.

For optimum wolf watching experiences, plan your visit for the winter months for an excellent opportunity to see these apex predators in their natural habitat.  During this multi-day tour, you’ll witness stunning sunrises over the Gallatin and Beartooth Mountain Ranges, potentially hearing the distant howls of wolves while your guide prepares a comforting hot drink. Despite the winter’s chill, it remains the most fruitful time for observing wolves, given the migrations of prey, snowy landscapes, and the wolf breeding season. Therefore, the months from December to April stand as the prime time for a wolf-focused multi-day adventure.

Is the Lamar Valley a good spot for viewing wildlife?

The Lamar Valley is renowned for its abundant wildlife population, making it a prime location for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Visitors have the chance to spot herds of bison, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mule deer, wolf packs, and various bird species. The valley’s rich biodiversity attracts nature lovers from around the world.  The Lamar Valley has gained fame as a premier destination specifically for observing wolves in their natural habitat. After their reintroduction to Yellowstone in the 1990s, wolves have thrived in this area, establishing several packs. Due to the large open spaces and ample prey, the valley offers excellent opportunities to witness wolf behavior, hunting, and pack dynamics.

Is Lamar Valley accessible in winter?

Yes, Lamar Valley is accessible in winter, but it’s important to note that driving in winter conditions in Yellowstone National Park is best done with an experienced guide, trained in winter driving conditions, in a 4×4 vehicle with winter tires. During the winter season, most of the park’s roads are closed to regular vehicles due to heavy snowfall and hazardous conditions.  You can access the northern range in Yellowstone National Park throughout the winter, and our tours depart daily.  These winter tours offer a unique opportunity to witness the park’s beauty and wildlife in a serene and less crowded setting.  Yellowstone Safari Company offers a full day tour, as well as a 2 day and 3 day tour to the region during the winter months.

When should we go to see grizzlies in Lamar Valley?

Anytime during the summer months holds the possibility of grizzly sightings, but springtime is considered the most optimal season. Grizzlies are very visible as they search for food after emerging from a long winter hibernation, and it is also their breeding season! Summer is a little more difficult as the hot weather keeps them seeking cooler, more sheltered areas. The fall is also an advantageous time as they are again more active in seeking food, this time to put on weight before hibernation.

When is the best time to see wolves in Lamar Valley?

While technically wolves can be spotted at any time of the year, winter is known for prime wolf watching. During this time, their prey such as elk are weakened after an arduous fall breeding season, and they are struggling to survive through the harsh winter. This gives wolves the upper hand, and they thrive. Additionally, the white snow provides a backdrop that makes it easier to spot them on the landscape. That being said, wolf watching is also exciting during the summer months!

Does Lamar Valley have any geothermal features?

Yes, although the impressive geothermal areas are located in other areas of the park. Lamar Valley houses an example of a travertine terrace, a feature known as Soda Butte Cone which can be seen right by the roadside!

Further Reading

Yellowstone’s Big, Wild, and Wonderful Landscapes

Mar 15, 2021

One of the trademark aspects of Yellowstone that amazes and bewilders so many people is how absolutely enormous the National Park is.  Yellowstone National Park encompasses more than 2.2 million acres of grasslands, forests, mountains, valleys, lakes, and rivers, all situated in or around one of the largest volcanic calderas on Earth.


Seeing Lamar Valley Wildlife on a Yellowstone Tour

Jan 20, 2023

On our wildlife safari tours, you’ll be able to get a glimpse into the lives of wild wolves, large herds of bison, pronghorn, deer and so much more. If you look up, you’ll be greeted by bald eagles and ospreys, and if you turn your eyes down, badgers and otters will keep your attention…