Where to Find Winter Wildlife in Wyoming
One of the great pleasures of exploring the least populous state in the country is the intimacy of the view. Winter only enriches the opportunity to experience wildlife in its most unfiltered of settings. Elk, birds, bighorn sheep, bison and many more types of wildlife make the snow covered plains and mountains of Wyoming their winter home. Take a look at where you can spot these wild Wyoming residents this winter.
National Elk Refuge
The National Elk Refuge is a sanctuary for Jackson’s elk herds and other wildlife such as bison, coyotes, wolves, eagles, ravens and magpies. Each year 5,000-7,000 elk winter at the refuge, where visitors can hop on a sleigh ride for a closer look at these magestic animals. If you’re on the lookout for bighorn sheep, head to the refuges Miller Butte for optimum sightings.
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Sweetwater County, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge is a migration corridor for many types of birds, including hawks, finches and trumpeter swans. The refuge is also the winter hangout of rabbits, beavers, porcupines, deer and pronghorn. Because winter can be a rough time for the animals at Seedskadee, a few of the refuge’s roads are closed to vehicles in the winter to limit stress to inhabitants. Contact the refuge’s headquarters before visiting for more information.
Bear River State Park
Located in Evanston, Wyoming, Bear River State Park is an ideal place to spot wildlife in the winter and year-round. The park is home to both an elk and a bison herd as well as pronghorn, a variety of birds an other animals. Stop in the park’s visitor center to see widlife displays showcasing the area’s array of wildlife.
Photo: Bear River State Park
National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center
At the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center in Dubois, life-sized dioramas and interactive exhibits tell the story of one of the region’s most beloved residents: the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The Whisky Mountain area just east of Dubois is the stomping ground of the largest wintering sheep herd in North America. The areas where these majestic animals roam are also home to ancient petroglyphs carved by native tribes; see if you can spot ancient art depicting bighorn sheep.
For a real treat, call the center to schedule a winter tour of nearby sheep herds. Guided tours are conducted by reservation November through March.
Photo: Bill Sincavage
With about 26 miles of groomed trails, the Casper Mountain area attracts snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers in the winter. The tree-lined trails offer optimum spots to catch roaming mule deer, a variety of birds and pristine views of the valley. The Casper Mountain Trail Center is a great place to warm up and grab a bite to eat.
Grand Teton National Park
Catching a glimpse of wildlife against Grand Teton National Park‘s striking mountains is a treat any time of year, but wildlife viewing during the quiet, winter months is an especially breathtaking experience. Head to the Gros Ventre River area for spectacular views of the Tetons and the chance to spot a moose. Or venture to Antelope Flats for another excellent place to spot wildlife
Yellowstone National Park
There may not be a more appropriate setting for experiencing Mother Nature’s most magnificent species than Yellowstone National Park. The winter landscape creates a dramatic aura around wildlife such as moose, elk, bison, and bighorn sheep. Visitors can access the park via guided snowmobile tour, or by more aerobic means such as cross-country skis or snowshoes.