Cow elk looking at you

Wildlife watching is the premier activity on the National Elk Refuge.


Visitors are easily able to observe elk, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and coyotes. Visitors looking to observe wildlife should travel the Refuge Road, visit the National Elk Refuge & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, or participate in a winter sleigh ride. Please view the Winter Wildlife Viewing Guide (English) (En Español)


Migratory birds dominate the Refuge during the spring and summer months. Visitors looking to observe migratory birds should visit the National Elk Refuge & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, the Historic Miller Ranch, and the Multi-use Pathway. Badgers and pronghorn are often observed along the Refuge Road.


During the few first weeks of autumn, flocks of migratory birds move through Refuge grasslands while large herds of pronghorn band together. Patient wildlife watchers may spot several Bighorn sheep or soaring raptors near Miller Butte on the Refuge Road. Visitors are encouraged to drive the Refuge Road or visit the Flat Creek observation deck north of the visitor center for the best wildlife watching opportunities. Elk are rarely observed on the Refuge until mid-November or early December.