Peaceful Co-Existing: How to Experience Yellowstone’s Wildlife Safely

by Vibrant Management


Jan 8, 2023

Yellowstone National Park’s famous bison have been in the news a lot lately—and not for good reasons. In a single month in 2022, three separate incidents of bison injuring tourists occurred. Attacks are rarely fatal. But they often leave victims with injuries that require a hospital visit. These bison attacks aren’t random or unprovoked. Instead, in each case, tourists got too close to the wildlife. 

Experiencing bison and other wildlife is often a highlight of most guests’ visit to Yellowstone. And if you follow a few simple rules and guidelines, it’s easy to enjoy the wildlife without putting yourself or those around you at risk.

At Utah Luxury Tours, we specialize in helping guests enjoy some of the country’s most incredible national parks safely. Whether you’re spotting bison in Yellowstone on our Yellowstone and Grand Teton Tour or bighorn sheep in Zion on our Wonders of the West Tour, keep reading as we offer a few simple tips for experiencing wildlife safely.

Keep a Safe Distance

In each of the bison attacks that occurred last summer, the individuals involved had gotten too close to the bison. You’ll typically find bison grazing in fields or slowly meandering along roadways in Yellowstone. Because of this, many people assume that they are gentle giants. But like most wild animals, bison may charge when they feel threatened. In the past, individuals who have been attacked by bison in Yellowstone have been trying to get closer to take pictures or even selfies with the creatures.

According to the National Park Service, it’s important to stay at least 25 yards, or 75 feet, away from wildlife in the park. This includes animals like mule deer, bison, and elk. Enjoying the wildlife from the distance will allow you to take pictures and experience them in their natural habitat, but without putting yourself or the bison at risk. If you’re lucky enough to experience bears or wolves while in Yellowstone, it’s important to stay 100 yards, or 300 feet, from these animals.

When enjoying wildlife, make sure to remain alert. If a bison, elk, or other animal begins to move closer to you, be prepared to back away to a safe distance. Those traveling with kids should make sure to keep them close while viewing wildlife.

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

It stands to reason that you shouldn’t feed the bison. But there are other, smaller animals in the park that you might be tempted to feed. It’s not uncommon for some wildlife, including mule deer and ground squirrels, to become accustomed to people in the park. As a result, they may approach you. This is especially common if you have food. 

But feeding wildlife can cause them to become dependent on people. This can cause them to become aggressive. Over time, it may even lead to them having to be put down. Some wildlife may also carry diseases that can be transmitted by a bite. Enjoy your meals and snacks in the park, but keep them away from wildlife. 

It’s also important to pack up and properly dispose of any garbage. That way it doesn’t wind up being eaten by wildlife. This includes any leftovers or food scraps, such as apple cores. Even seemingly “healthy” foods may not be a part of an animal’s regular diet.

Keep Noise at a Minimum

While it might be tempting to play your favorite tunes on a speaker while relaxing and taking a break in the park, wait until you get back to your hotel to do so. Loud music, shouting, and other noise can disturb wildlife, as well as other guests. 

If you’re traveling in a group, as on one of our national park tours, avoid shouting to your friends or family while hiking or enjoying the park’s highlights.

Planning a Visit to Yellowstone National Park

The park’s herds of bison are far from the only thing that you’ll experience during a visit to Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful geyser, with its 130-foot eruption, is another must-see. On our Yellowstone and Grand Teton Tour, guests will experience Old Faithful’s eruption, as well as West Thumb, a volcanic caldera in Yellowstone Lake, the vibrantly colored Grand Prismatic mineral pool, Mammoth Hot Springs, and more.

Utah Luxury Tours experienced guides will help you navigate the park and learn more about its unique history and the natural features that you’re experiencing. For a more intimate experience, we even offer this tour as a private experience. If visiting Yellowstone National Park is on your bucket list, there’s no better way to experience it than on one of our tours!

Ready to spot bison and other wildlife in Yellowstone? Check out our Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Scheduled Departure Tours and Luxury Custom Private Tour to choose the right one for you!

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