Yellowstone is home to one of the largest concentrations of mammals in the lower 48 states, and the spectacular Lamar Valley ranks among the best locations in the park to spot wildlife—black and grizzly bears, elk, bison, wolves, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and several types of birds. It’s easy to see why it’s nicknamed America’s Serengeti.
Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed in Lamar Valley, and since it’s located in the more remote northeastern corner of the park, it’s largely free of crowds. Self-guided driving tours of Yellowstone's Upper Loop often include Lamar Valley, as well as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin, Obsidian Cliff, and the Petrified Tree. For wildlife spotting tips from an expert, consider booking a private wildlife tour through the Lamar and Hayden valleys.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lamar Valley is a must-visit for nature lovers and families traveling with kids.
- Bring binoculars or a long camera lens to view wildlife safely from a distance.
- Make use of the many pullouts lining the road through the valley for wildlife viewing.
- Always remain at least 25 yards (23 meters) from wildlife and 100 yards (91 meters) from bears and wolves.
How to Get There
Lamar Valley is located along the Northeast Entrance Road (Route 212) just off Grand Loop Road at Tower Junction.
When to Get There
Lamar Valley is accessible to cars year-round, and the best time to visit depends on what animals you’re hoping to see. Bears tend to start emerging in March and April as they graze in the valley meadows, while wolves are easier to spot in winter when they stand out against the snow. No matter the season, plan to visit in the early morning or late evening when animals are at their most active.
Lamar Buffalo Ranch
During the early 20th century, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch was established in the Lamar Valley to breed bison to be released into the park’s free-roaming population in an effort to protect the species. Today, the park’s bison population ranks among the largest and most genetically pure in North America. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch Historic District, included on the National Register of Historic Places, comprises five historic structures.