Photographic Focus: Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Moose, Grizzly Bears, Mule Deer
Best Time: Early Morning and Afternoon
Season: Summer, Fall
Wild and desolate, the scarred peaks that rise around the Eastern Entrance road of Yellowstone as it leads out in the direction of Cody, Wyoming are some of the most beautiful in the park. The steep peaks shelter large swathes of conifer forests which blanket the steep slopes with a carpet of green. The road can be split into two zones with each offering different wildlife viewing opportunities.
The first zone stretches 5.7 kilometers from the park’s Eastern Entrance to the Sylvan Falls pullout area. The road here meanders along Middle Creek through dense conifer forest’s. The thick undergrowth on both sides means that the visibility is limited but there is a good chance of spotting Elk and Mule deer along this stretch of the road. Grizzly Bears are also not uncommon and can sometimes be seen high above the road grazing in alpine meadows. With some luck, the morning hours may produce one of Yellowstone’s most unique species: The Moose.
Given that it is the largest species of deer in the world, the Moose is considerably hard to find in the confines of the Park for they prefer the lower elevation willow swamps around the Grand Teton. While the best place for Moose in Yellowstone is around Willow Park just south of Mammoth Hot Springs, with some luck, the Eastern Entrance road offers a chance to glimpse the usually secretive species firsthand. The numbers of Moose are on the decline in Yellowstone due to the shrinking of their preferred habitat because of the drier summers in recent decades and today there are only about 400 Moose left in the park.
The second zone starts after the Sylvan Falls pullout as the road gains elevation on its way to Sylvan pass. The pass reaches an elevation of 2598 meters and is closed during the winter and early Spring season. This stretch of the road will often produce male Bighorn Sheep who will often be found grazing along the roadside.
A few kilometers ahead and with the pass now to your back, the Eastern Entrance road starts to weave through the Absaroka range and passes by the beautiful Sylvan Lake which can often produce a range of duck species. The area is also good for finding lone Bison males who will often use the young Lodgepole pines to scratch an itch to their hearts desire. Grizzly Bears can also be seen in this area from time to time, especially near Sylvan Lake.
The Eastern Entrance offers something different than any other area of Yellowstone. While wildlife density in the area seems to be lower than the likes of Lamar or Mammoth, no other part of Yellowstone feels as untamed and wild as the Eastern Entrance. Some mornings you can be one of the only cars on the road, and few places offer the sheer glory of seeing a sunrise like the one pictured below all the while a male Elk’s Bugle call permeates through the surrounding forest and cuts right through your soul.
Table of Contents