It’s not an exaggeration to say that Jackson Hole is one of the best wildlife watching locations in the world. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is the only area left in the lower 48 where every species that should be here still is.
The key to finding wildlife is to go with knowledgeable and experienced guides who know when and where to look. On a guided wildlife tour, you’ll be driven through the valley equipped with spotting scopes, binoculars, and even sustenance — everything you need for a successful day of wildlife viewing. Guides often have backgrounds in wildlife biology or natural history and offer an immersive, customizable, and educational experience. “It’s about providing a personalized experience,” says Tenley Thompson, a wildlife biologist and guide with EcoTour Adventures.
Sustainability tip: A good wildlife guide will have an endless supply of stories, facts, and passion to help you really connect with the local wildlife. And the more connected you are, the more inspired you’ll feel to help protect local wildlife for generations to come. An easy way to help? Spread the knowledge! Pick a fact or story that stuck with you and share it via social media. Use the hashtag #TheWildRules to help your followers connect with local wildlife too.
In 2016, a female mule deer made history by completing the longest documented migration ever recorded. Then she did it again… and again. Every year since, the now-famous Deer 255 has traveled some 242 miles from Wyoming’s Red Desert to Island Park, Idaho — and back. In December 2020, she made the journey with fawns. Hers is an incredible story of resilience and travel — and we know it thanks to a new campaign, Being Wild Jackson Hole.
Being Wild is a collaboration between the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation and Visit Jackson Hole. The goal is simple: to help visitors connect with local wildlife in a way that inspires conservation ethics and responsible behavior around wildlife. There’s no better way to engage with local wildlife than to engage with the science that helps understand and protect it — and now you can, even as a visitor. Being Wild Jackson Hole can connect visitors with any number of volunteer activities, from surveying local plants to removing or fixing barbed wire fences in order to reduce barriers to wildlife movement. It’s called citizen science, and it rocks. Plus, Jackson Hole and its wildlife will thank you for your contributions. Learn more here.
When to go
Without a doubt, the best time to see wildlife is during what locals call the “off-season:” spring and fall. These are the months that wildlife migrates, comes out of hibernation, returns to the valley floor or prepares to escape it for the summer. Jackson Hole is teeming with life. But there’s plenty to see in the summertime, too, if you know where to look. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife in peak summer months, out of the heat of the day. Don’t worry, most wildlife guides provide coffee on their early morning excursions.
How to do it
You’re bound to see wildlife without even looking around here. But for the best experience, head out with a guide. Take your pick from any number of Jackson’s top-notch outfitters.
What to expect
Different guides offer different experiences, but generally you can expect plenty of time in a comfortable car equipped with spotting scopes, binoculars, and snacks. Your guide will drive you to the best spots to see wildlife and let you take it in, from a safe distance. Some full-day or multi-day tours offer opportunities to hike and get further off the beaten path.
Know before you go
No matter how harmless it looks, wildlife is wild. With or without a guide, you should follow the Wild Rules and give wildlife their space (remember, 25 yards from most animals, 100 yards from big predators like wolves and bears). Follow any rules or instructions your guide offers — guides know best, and are operating with your and the wildlife’s best interests in mind.
EcoTour Adventureshttps://www.jhecotouradventures.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org +1 307-690-9533
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safarishttps://jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com/ +1 307-690-6402
Scenic Safarishttps://www.scenic-safaris.com/ +1 888-734-8898
Wildlife Expeditions of Teton Science Schoolhttps://www.tetonscience.org/what-we-do/wildlife-tours/ +1 877-404-6626
Great Western Expeditionshttps://greatwesternexpeditions.com/winter-tours/ email@example.com +1 307-222-0412