Though Grand Teton National Park's scenery is the first thing that overwhelms you about the park, look a little closer and you'll find an incredible wildlife menagerie. There are bears -- black and grizzly --, wolves, bison, moose, elk, pronghorn antelope, and so much more.
Playing wildlife bingo is a great way to entertain kids, but with so much wildlife, it could be a short game! Along with the above-mentioned animals, there are sandhill cranes, herons, sage grouse, colorful western tanagers, marmots, bighorn sheep, coyotes, chipmunks, ground squirrels, pikas, mule deer, mountain lions and more.
But where do you look to find the animals, and when?
* In August and early September, the Moose-Wilson Road is pretty reliable for black bears, as they come to feast on the tasty hawthorn berries. The bruins are so fixated on gorging themselves that they pretty much ignore the cars on the road. Just remember that they're wild bears and keep your distance.
* Moose are often seen early in the morning and in the evening in Willow Flats right behind Jackson Lake Lodge, and I've even seen them browsing in ponds that pool along Cascade Creek up above Inspiration Point. They also like to browse along the Snake River in the area of Oxbow Bend.
* Bison congregate in the fields that wrap Mormon Row, as well as in the pastures on the east side of U.S. 191/26/89 just south of Moran Junction.
* The Oxbow Bend along the Snake River, and the trees along the river near Moose, all are great spots to look for bald eagles, osprey, and other birdlife. The Oxbow Bend stretch of the Snake River rich in birdlife -- white pelicans, trumpeter swans on occasion, osprey and even eagles. I've also seen otters frolicking on the river banks here, as well as moose.
* Head away from the rivers and into the lodgepole forests and you might see olive-sided flycatchers, yellow-rumped warblers, ruby-crowned kinglets, mountain chickadees, white-crowned and chipping sparrows and dark-eyed juncos.
* While you're hiking up Cascade Canyon and keeping an eye out for moose, also watch for Western tanagers, ruby-crowned kinglets and yellow-rumped warblers near the trail. You might also see golden eagles, Steller’s jays, gray jays, golden-crowned kinglets, dark-eyed juncos.
* Park biologists note that the wetlands and their creeks and ponds that lie within the Willow Flats behind Jackson Lake Lodge is great habitat for cinnamon teal, green-winged teal and American wigeons. Sandhill cranes, northern harriers, American bitterns, common snipes and soras also nest here, while Calliope hummingbirds feed on scarlet gilia growing near the lodge.
* The dry, dusty sagebrush flats between the Teton Park Road and the Snake River are good spots to look for sage grouse.
* While spring and summer are great times to look for wildlife, if you're flexible September and even early October are spectacular times to be in the park. Aspen glades begin to turn to gold in mid-September, while bull elk are anxious to form their harems and can be heard bugling in the evening and again around dusk if you go out into the park.
To find out what animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish you might encounter in the park, search the list found on this page.
Grand Teton Bird Checklist