7 Types Of Wildlife in Big Sky, MT & Yellowstone National Park

What Wildlife Will You See? Probably a lot!

Elk by the water

A quality wildlife spotting makes every day better. In Big Sky it's almost easy to spot wildlife. Watch out for elk and bighorn sheep as you're driving your car. Look out the window as you brew your coffee and you might spot a moose snacking on a tree. Or scan the distance peaks for mountain goats as you ride the Big Sky Resort Tram. Wildlife is everywhere around here!

According to VisitMT.com, "Montana has a greater variety of wildlife than anywhere in the lower 48." Due to Big Sky's location, it's a prime habitat for large animals to thrive. Southwest Montana, including Yellowstone, is filled with vast mountains, large rivers, and few people, which means that we share our living space with an abundant selection of different species. It's wild. You never know what you're going to see - or what's going to see you.

Here are 7 types of wildlife you can see in Big Sky, Montana and Yellowstone National Park:

1. Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep often welcome guests to Big Sky. These majestic animals can be seen along the side of the Gallatin River or on Highway 64. During rutting season in the fall, you can hear the echoes of bighorn sheep butting heads on early morning hikes.

2. Elk

Stunning herds of elk can be spotted roaming the forests or grazing in the valleys. They are often spotted on the drive up to Big Sky Resort or in the Park. You might find shedhorns when you go for a hike or hear a bull elk bugling to his harem.

Bighorn Sheep in the snow
Moose by a cabin

3. Moose

Moose are unpredictable giants that should always be treated with respect and enjoyed from a distance. These ornery mammals are a sight to behold. They are often seen on Big Sky Resort’s golf course, in the Meadow, and near the Gallatin River.

4. Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears, aka Ursus Arctos Horribilis, are a bit more elusive than the other large mammals in Southwest Montana. Grizzlies have a fierce reputation, but generally they keep their distance from humans. If you're heading into the Madison Range or the Gallatin Range, bring your bear spray and make lots of noise because it's best to avoid these animals.

5. Gray Wolf

Wolves are thriving in Montana, specifically in Yellowstone. It's more likely that you'll hear packs of wolves howling in the distance while you're on a hike, than actually spot one. But if you do, be sure you have your camera ready!

6. Mountain Goats

When you hike in Beehive or you ride the Big Sky Resort tram, keep your eye out for a mountain goat or two playing on exposed and rocky terrain. These sure-footed creatures are fun to watch as they gracefully clamber over vertigo-inducing alpine features.

7. American Bison

Bison, often called buffalo, can be seen when you head south from Big Sky toward Yellowstone National Park. These massive and iconic animals are easy to spot, but should be given lots of space if encountered in the wild.

A wolf in the snow
Bison in the snow

Learn more about these magnificent creatures and other wildlife that lives in Montana on VisitMT.com.

Head out at dawn or dusk and you might spot other animals like bobcats, badgers, foxes, or bald eagles. Just remember that the wildlife you can see in Big Sky always deserves respect. Wildlife can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

About the Author

Derek Lennon