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Lamar Valley

NE Entrance Road, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone is home to one of the largest concentrations of mammals in the lower 48 states, and the spectacular Lamar Valley ranks among the best locations in the park to spot wildlife—black and grizzly bears, elk, bison, wolves, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and several types of birds. It’s easy to see why it’s nicknamed America’s Serengeti.

Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed in Lamar Valley, and since it’s located in the more remote northeastern corner of the park, it’s largely free of crowds. Self-guided driving tours of Yellowstone's Upper Loop often include Lamar Valley, as well as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin, Obsidian Cliff, and the Petrified Tree. For wildlife spotting tips from an expert, consider booking a private wildlife tour through the Lamar and Hayden valleys.

  • Lamar Valley is a must-visit for nature lovers and families traveling with kids.

  • Bring binoculars or a long camera lens to view wildlife safely from a distance.

  • Make use of the many pullouts lining the road through the valley for wildlife viewing.

  • Always remain at least 25 yards (23 meters) from wildlife and 100 yards (91 meters) from bears and wolves.

Lamar Valley is located along the Northeast Entrance Road (Route 212) just off Grand Loop Road at Tower Junction.

Lamar Valley is accessible to cars year-round, and the best time to visit depends on what animals you’re hoping to see. Bears tend to start emerging in March and April as they graze in the valley meadows, while wolves are easier to spot in winter when they stand out against the snow. No matter the season, plan to visit in the early morning or late evening when animals are at their most active.

During the early 20th century, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch was established in the Lamar Valley to breed bison to be released into the park’s free-roaming population in an effort to protect the species. Today, the park’s bison population ranks among the largest and most genetically pure in North America. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch Historic District, included on the National Register of Historic Places, comprises five historic structures.

Yes, you can visit the Lamar Valley area of Yellowstone National Park. Located in the northeastern corner of the park, the region is known for its grassland ecosystem and its wealth of wildlife, which has earned it the nickname the American Serengeti. It is an accessible place to explore.

Yes, the Lamar Valley is worth visiting. Located along the Lamar River, this section of the park is ideal for wildlife lovers. Home to wolf packs, herds of bison, deer, coyotes, bald eagles, and more, the Lamar Valley also boasts scenic features like Soda Butte and Trout Lake.

The easiest way to explore the Lamar Valley is by car, and it takes about one hour to drive the stretch of Route 212 between Tower Junction and Cooke City, roughly the valley's endpoints. Set aside a minimum of two hours if you want to drive there and back.

Old Faithful is at Yellowstone National Park's center, while Lamar Valley is in its northeast. It's about 1 hour and 45 minutes by car from Old Faithful to Tower Junction (the valley’s western endpoint) via US 89-N and Grand Loop Road, making it possible to do both in one day.

Cooke City, located at the northeastern edge of the Lamar Valley, is a good place to base yourself: It offers options for accommodation and amenities. Alternatively, Gardiner—located at Yellowstone National Park’s northern entrance and a 45-minute drive from the valley’s western edge at Tower Junction—is also a good base.

The Lamar Valley offers special scenery and wildlife-viewing opportunities throughout the year, although snowstorms can limit access in winter. For the best chance to spot wolves, bison, and other wildlife, aim for dawn or dusk, when the valley’s resident animals are likely to be most active.


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