Wyoming has seemingly endless places to witness wildlife in its natural habitat, from national parks and forests to wildlife refuges. Use the hot spots below as a starting place for seeing bison, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles, and much more wildlife in Wyoming.
Please remember that wildlife is wild. Always stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other wildlife.
1. Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
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.
Wildlife Highlight: See the Birds of Wyoming at Seedskadee
The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is home to uncommon species of migratory birds in the winter. Visitors can see large numbers of rough-legged hawks that hunt the wetland and riverine habitats for food. Gray-crowned rosy-finches are often spotted around refuge headquarters near bird feeders or picking seeds from annual weeds. It’s not uncommon to find more than 200 Trumpeter swans as they escape freezing temperatures during the height of winter.
2. Bighorn Mountains
Two scenic byways offer spectacular views and access to the wildlife-rich Bighorn Mountains. 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.
3. Medicine Bow National Forest
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.
Wildlife Highlight: Go Fishing in Medicine Bow National Forest
The Sierra Madre Range southwest of Saratoga, Wyoming, on the Medicine Bow National Forest offer a variety of lakes ideal for ice fishing. Big Creek Lake is open year round.
4. Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop
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.
Wildlife Highlight: Learn About the Pilot Butte Wild Horses
Witness the living history of the west when you see the breathtaking herd of wild horses at Pilot Butte as they wander through the beautiful high desert of Sweetwater County, seeking food, water, shelter, and room to roam. About 1,500 wild horses roam the area and are direct descendants of the horse cattle ranchers reintroduced to the area in the 1800s. If you are limited by time or weather and cannot travel the wild horse loop tour, you can visit the wild horse viewing area at the Bureau of Land Management wild horse corrals in Rock Springs.
5. Casper Mountain
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.
Wildlife Highlight: Go Birdwatching on the Platte River Trails
The Platt River Trails System is a virtual oasis for people and for wildlife. During the winter, visitors can spot several types of birds of prey, including bald eagles, red-tail and red-shoulder hawks, and owls. Yet what people from all over the world come here to see is the sandhill crane migration. Visitors can catch the end of the migration in November and early December, with the spring migration occurring from late February through March.
6. Bear Lodge Mountains
Part of the Black Hills National Forest, the Bear Lodge Mountains in Northeast 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.
Wildlife Highlight: Search for Wyoming Mountain Goats in the Black Hills
Thanks to Canada’s gift to Custer State Park in 1924, you have the chance to spot rocky mountain goats in the Black Hills. These distinctive goats with shaggy white coats and black horns, noses, and hooves are direct descendants of the six goats who escaped their pens. You can spot skillful climbers in the craggy granite core of the mountains.
7. The Red Desert
Arid deserts aren’t often known as prime habitats 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.
Wildlife Highlight: Watch Herds of Mule Deer in WY Red Desert
Recently, the longest mule deer migration ever recorded was discovered, where thousands of deer migrate 150 miles from winter ranges in the Red Desert to summer ranges in the mountains of northwest Wyoming. An outreach and education program that includes a short film documenting the mule deers’ amazing 300-mile round-trip journey.
8. Wind River Mountains
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.
Wildlife Highlight: See Wyoming Bighorn Sheep in Dubois
More tame-hearted visitors can visit the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois, which is dedicated to education and outreach for the national conservation of wild sheep, wildlife, and wild lands. Guests can learn about the many species of bighorn sheep, take a guided eco-tour, find resources for kids and more.
9. Grand Teton National Park
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, wolves, 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.
Wildlife Highlight: The Best Place to See Wildlife in Grand Teton Is Oxbow Bend Turnout
Visitors flock to the Oxbow Bend Turnout for the chance to glimpse moose, beaver, muskrat, river otters, trumpeter swans, and more. The turnout gets its name from a bend in the Snake River that resembles the bow under an oxen yoke which formed when a meandering channel was cut off from the mainstream creating a pond.
10. Yellowstone National Park
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 backcountry 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.
Wildlife Highlight: The Best Wildlife Viewing in Yellowstone Is the Lamar Valley
Often called the American Serengeti, the Lamar Valley along the Lamar River is a place to easily spot large animals in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park. Common sightings include wolf packs, large bison herds, pronghorn, badgers, and deer.