You can be sure the sight of a moose, bear, elk, wolf or other large mammal is a moment that always thrills. Montana is home to all these animals and driving on the Backroad to Yellowstone offers unlimited opportunities for these random meetings. Here are some tips for spotting and photographing wildlife.
1. Keep your distance! Although you may encounter animals while hiking or horsebackriding, it is important to remember that they are more at home in the woods…and faster runners…than you are. Making noise while you hike will prevent unexpected encounters.
2. Keep your camera ready. You never know when a great photo opportunity will present itself and you have to act quickly!
3. Do not feed wild animals! Absolutely DO NOT FEED WILD ANIMALS! Got it???
4. Be driver aware! If you are in Yellowstone National Park or anywhere along the Backroad, you may find others have spotted a grizzly or bighorn sheep and created a bison or bear “jam”. Keep your eyes on the road until you can safely park.
5. Watch out for animal mothers! Baby animals are amazing and adorable…they are also almost never alone. Mom will be nearby and protective of her young. Back away from young and do not move closer for a photo.
6. Keep your pets leashed! Dogs love the woods and meadows – it is tempting to let them run off-leash. This is not allowed in YNP. In the National Forests and BLM properties it is allowed, but a sudden chase can lead to a lost or injured pet.
7. Look for the small mammals, too. Marmots, chipmunks, hares, beavers, badgers and many more critters populate the forests. Find them and learn about their natural habitats.
To improve your chances of seeing and photographing wildlife safely, find a location near water in the early morning or late evening. Check with Park rangers for good viewing spots and then post your photos to our FB page!