Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, West Yellowstone

Are you planning on visiting Yellowstone? Looking for up close encounters with wolves and bears? Of course, there’s a chance to see wolves and bear in Yellowstone National Park. We have seen them at varying distances each time we have been to the park. Whether you get to see these great animals in Yellowstone or they evade you during your stay a trip to West Yellowstone to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is a side trip worth the effort and fuel!

While the main attractions here are the bears and wolves, there’s more! Other exhibits that are definitely worth checking out include river otters, birds of prey, ground squirrels and more. The onsite Bald Eagles are rescued birds that are no longer able to fly in order to hunt for themselves.

The Grizzly bears are rescues or bears that have been trapped looking for food and/or finding it too close to humans or have become aggressive toward humans. GWDC offers an enrichment program that involves allowing younger children to participate in hiding snacks/treats for the bears to find when the are released from their dens into the habitat. Since our visit, I have noticed that there have been some habitat changes and some of the bears have been relocated. Great news for the Grizzlies!

GWDC is home to three packs of grey wolves for a total of 9 wolves. The exhibit is set up to offer excellent unobstructed views of the wolves, well, being wolves. The handlers provide enrichment through adding scents and hiding bones and fish.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center provides a wealth of information about these amazing wild animals. Handlers provide talks about behavior and we even caught a bear talk that involved how to properly use bear spray. Bear proof and not so bear proof products were also on display showing just how strong and determined these bears are especially when it comes to food.

Want to know more? Visit the GWDC website to plan your visit and learn more about this non-profit Wild Life Park and Educational Facility. If you are looking for a campsite nearby, we have just the secret spot! It wouldn’t be a secret if I told everyone about it now would it?!

Thermopolis Wyoming

I think that Thermopolis is the not so secret, secret getaway awesome nature AND family fun experience just waiting for everyone in Wyoming. Hot Springs State Park is the main attraction here. One feature of the park is the Buffalo Trail Road. Park staff often feed the buffalo.

We didn’t manage to catch a feeding, but we did get to see some of the babies. It is important to remember that these are wild animals. Even if the calves are cute and the adults seem to be relaxing, do not approach buffalo. It is best to enjoy them from a distance or from your car.

Now that I told you a little about the nature in Thermopolis, I can tell you about Star Plunge. Star Plunge is not the only hot springs water park in Thermopolis, Hellie’s TeePee Pools is across the parking lot. Both of these pay for use water parks are located in the Hot Springs State park, but hey are not part of the State Park(you’ll have to pay to use). Here we are taking a dip at the Star Plunge Hot Springs Water Park. We have not been to Hellie’s.

You can take a free dip in the hot springs at the State Bath House. The Bath House is a free soaking facility with showers. In addition to these great activities there are mineral pools, hiking trails, interpretive trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, river access, amazing views and more. Check out the Hot Springs State Park website for more information.

An honorable mention has to go out to Taco Johns.. All of my boys love Taco John’s and were happy there was one in Thermopolis. They talk about going somewhere there is Taco John’s at least once a week.

Yellowstone National Park

We have visited Yellowstone National Park three times over the past 6 years. Each time we visited we got to see plenty of wildlife. I won’t go on and on in this post about Yellowstone. It is an amazing, yet smelly place, to to go visit the inside of a super caldera(you know, the inside of a volcano). Yellowstone is a hot spot for not only buffalo traffic jams, bears being bears, and giant herds of elk; there are also plenty of places to stop and enjoy super heated water and volcanic gases. Our advice is to follow park rules and stay on boardwalks. Stepping off of the boardwalks to get closer to a hot spring can lead to fatal injury.

What I want to talk about is a curiosity. At a location I am not going to disclose inside Yellowstone we experienced seeing something truly strange – each of the three times we visited. Now, this involves elk and only elk. There is a meadow that you can drive by and the main attraction, at least for us, has become a pair of bull elk. The best buds like lounging around, just relaxing and perhaps enjoying watching tourists drive by. Here is the thing about these fellas, they don’t appear to move. It’s not that they aren’t looking around, eating, and what not. It is, each visit we have found them in the same exact spot and doing the same exact thing. Ruminating away and growing this seasons antlers. I’m not kidding, we found them in virtually the same positions.

While we have plenty of excellent pictures of other elk. These guys we far enough from the road to make getting a good shot on our phone camera while we were driving. We were not prepared for something like this. Of course, what are the odds of this even happening? We hope to see them again on our next visit!

Please remember that even elk are wild animals. Do not approach any of the wild animals in the park. Encounters with these and other animals in the park can lead to serious injuries and even death.

For more information visit the Yellowstone National Park website.