By the time you’ve spent a day or two in Yellowstone you’ve seen so many bison you might be getting a little jaded, a little uninspired by the wildlife. That’s when it’s time to head to Lamar Valley for a day full of wildlife, especially the reintroduced and stunning gray wolf. Wherever you’re camping, get up a little bit before dawn, and just hit the road. Save breakfast for when you get to the valley. Don’t be distracted by Mammoth Hot Springs or all the elk there. You want to get the early morning wildlife on your way to Lamar Valley and then get to the valley early when the wolves are active and there’s still some parking at the pullouts where you can eat your breakfast while wolf watching. This moose was a treat on the way to Lamar Valley.
Fifteen+ years ago when I went to Yellowstone I saw one wolf and it was incredible. In 2020 we saw upwards of 20 and we were just in one place. When you get into the valley keep your eyes peeled for the real wolf watchers. They have tripods and massive cameras and binoculars, and they follow the packs and specific radio collared wolves. Pull up next to some of them, make your breakfast and get your slightly lesser zoom lens or binoculars out. The folks with real wolf knowledge are generally happy to share as long as you’re polite and clearly actually interested in the wolves. The Western half of Lamar Valley from Tower-Roosevelt to Trout Lake is the overlapping territory of five packs; 8 Mile, Carnelian Creek, Junction Butte, Phantom Lake, and Wapiti Lake and is just outside the range of Mollie’s pack which is what makes it the best wolf spotting in the park (if not the country). I believe we were watching the 8 Mile pack, although word around the pullout was that Mollie’s pack was also on the move nearby. Now I don’t have a crazy zoom lens so the photo is not as incredible as the experience but there are at least 6 wolves in the photo below.