In addition to seeing the Teton mountain range, spotting wildlife is one thing visitors to Jackson Hole are always anxious to experience. Bison. Moose. An elk herd. A fox or coyote. A bald eagle. Perhaps a wolf. Seeing one, all and more than that is possible by booking a tour with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, a company that for 16 years has been offering the ultimate wildlife and photography tours in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
We highly suggest taking a tour at the beginning of your visit so that when you spot wildlife on your own later, you’ll have more knowledge of that particular animal or bird.
SMALL GROUP TOURS WITH EXCEPTIONAL, PASSIONATE GUIDES
“The definitive factor between us and most tour operators are our guides,” says Matt Scott, owner of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. “We have top-level guides that we take great pride in,” he continues. “These professional, seasoned naturalists offer a deeper customer experience.”
The vast majority of the expert guides on staff have been living in Jackson and the immediate area and employed by Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris for more than 5 years. Scott says all are certified in “Track and Sign,” meaning they are able to interpret the spoor (tracks and scent) of medium to large animals and have a solid knowledge of animal behavior.
“Our guides share nuggets of information that you only gain with decades of time in Jackson and the national parks,” Scott says.
This was certainly the case with a seasoned guide named Duane Newman who helmed a recent sunrise wildlife tour. Duane has 17 years of guiding experience in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 7 of them with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. During the 4-hour drive in and around Grand Teton National Park, he regaled and educated us about the geology, history and ecology of the area.
After the excursion, the three young men from Ohio on the tour with me said they thought Duane was “incredible.”
“He was very informative with an endless amount of knowledge of the wildlife, history and trivia about the area and the animals,” said one the young men. “It was amazing!”
When asked what he loves most about his job as a guide, Duane replied that he couldn’t pinpoint just one thing because “every day is a new day.”
“The scenery is always different, the wildlife and the animals’ location are always different and, of course, the guests are different,” he said. “And even though I see the Tetons about a thousand times a week, the view never gets old.”
LEARN ABOUT WILDLIFE ETIQUETTE
Jackson Hole Wildlife guides will help you understand how to track and study wildlife in the national parks and forests without getting too close. Many visitors do not understand the nature of wild animals and how to respect their habitat and their space while still enjoying a wildlife experience.
“You don’t approach wildlife, because they’re wild!”
Case in point: A small herd of bison was visible as we approached a large meadow and ranch area situated on either side of the highway in Grand Teton National Park. As we pulled over on the opposite side of the road from where the bison were grazing, we noticed several people walking up to the wooden rail fence by which the huge animals were lumbering. Not a smart idea in the least!
“You don’t approach wildlife, because they’re wild,” said one of the young men, gaping at the tourists as it became clear to us the bison were getting ready to jump over the fence so they could cross the highway. “It’s a no-brainer.”
It was a very instructive moment for Duane who told us that bison can run up to 35 miles per hour and jump fences pretty easily. Once the lead bison breached the wooden fence, the wide-eyed looky-loos scrambled toward their vehicles.
“Some of the bison were getting pretty ornery,” Duane pointed out. “I don't know if you noticed, but one female's tail went up. When a tail goes up, that means charge or discharge.”
That little detail will be something I will look for the next time I encounter bison!
Take a Tour:
• Experienced guide and naturalist, dedicated to giving you a memorable day in the national parks
• High-quality binoculars and spotting scopes
• Pick-up and drop-off at all hotels and condos in Jackson and Teton Village
• A light breakfast and a nice variety of snacks that are locally sourced and organic when possible; lunch for full-day tours; hot and cold beverages are also available.
• Comfortable 4x4 vehicle where everyone is guaranteed a window seat.
VALUING THE CONSERVATION OF OUR VALUABLE RESOURCES
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris is committed to a culture of sustainability and is dedicated to purchasing products, establishing partnerships and educating the public in a way that values the protection and conservation of our most valuable resources. In fact, the company has been recognized as a Reduce/Reuse/Recycle Business Leader here in Jackson Hole.
“Because we have an audience in the vehicle, we always introduce sustainability,” says Scott, “and if we have people walk away with a better idea of what it takes to preserve these natural places and just the importance of conservation, then we have people who have gained a better idea of sustainability than they did before the tour.”
Scott and his wife visit the local farmer’s markets to source the breakfast snacks and lunch delights provided on the various tours, and instead of being given plastic water bottles, guests receive a reusable aluminum water bottle that they can take home with them.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR EXPERIENCE
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris can customize your small group wildlife-seeking experience. The exact routes and itineraries of its tours and expeditions will depend on a number of factors, the most important being your areas of interest, current wildlife sightings and road conditions. For private tours, especially, the guide will often call the day before to see what you’re interested in seeing, where you want to go and how you want the day to look, tailoring the adventure exclusively for you and your friends or family.
“We are a local, family-owned and operated safari company, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience beyond your ‘wildest’ dreams,” Scott says.
In addition to half- and full-day and multi-day wildlife tours to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks and the surrounding area, Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris also offers two different photography tours: The Grand Teton Photo Experience and Grand Teton Photo Workshop.
“We live in a wild place and it’s wonderful to share it with other people,” says Scott.
Allow Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris to help make your vacation here even more unforgettable!
Wildlife photographer Tiffany Taxis shares exploration in GTNP with guests. In addition to wildlife photography, Tiffany works as a year-round JHWS wildlife guide in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Tiffany hopes to educate, inspire, and foster a deep appreciation and understanding for wildlife and wildlife conservation through both her photography and guiding. Photography courtesy @tiffanytaxis.com