North America

Why winter is the perfect time to spot Yellowstone’s wildlife

Stunning landscapes have drawn visitors to Yellowstone National Park for almost 150 years, but there’s never been a better time to discover how the park turns into a wildlife wonderland in winter.

Among the sparkling, crystalline snow the world may appear to be still, but for those who know how to listen, life is clearly thriving in Yellowstone.

Historic wolf reintroduction

There is almost nowhere in the US where wolves can be spotted in the wild. Before colonization, America was a nation of wolves.

At their peak, there were up to 500,000 of the apex predators living in balance with the other creatures of the land (humans included).

They lived in every corner of North America, besides present-day California’s coast.

But by the 1960s systematic killing reduced the lower 48 states’ wolf population to only 300.

Myths of the wolf’s treachery fueled bounty hunters and vengeful ranchers, and the hatred these stories fostered ultimately made wolf conservation a political challenge.

But in 1995, grassroots efforts won out, and 31 Canadian gray wolves were brought to Yellowstone in an attempt to reintroduce the species to its historic habitat.

The park is known for its prismatic pools and gushing geysers, natural sights that not only inspired the creation of the National Parks System, but attract more than four million visitors every year.

Official statistics show 91 percent of those people visit between May and September, leaving the park virtually empty during the other months, particularly in the heart of winter.

Winter, however, is when Yellowstone is at its best – particularly for wildlife lovers. It isn’t just the lack of people, although that’s always a bonus when visiting any outdoor space.