The sightseeing opportunities in Yellowstone National Park are seemingly endless with such famous spots as Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs.
But if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you might consider Lamar Valley. It’s a three-hour drive from the ranch and located in the northeast corner of the park.
Named for Lucius Lamar, who was the Secretary of the Interior in 1885, the valley is known for the abundance of wildlife. It’s home to wolves, large herds of bison, pronghorn, badgers, grizzly bears, bald eagles, osprey, deer and coyotes.
The prevalence of so many species is why Lamar Valley is often called the Serengeti of America.
This corner of the park used to be the least visited but the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone in 1995 has helped transform it into one of the more popular destinations. Elk and bison spend the winter in the valley making it prime hunting ground for wolves.
Today, Lamar Valley has the highest concentration of wolves and is home to the Junction Butte and Lamar Canyon wolf packs, two of the more famous packs.
Northeast Entrance Road
Northeast Entrance Road begins your 29-mile long journey into the valley. Numerous pullouts afford you the opportunity to observe the wildlife at your leisure. Other notable points of interest include Soda Butte and Trout Lake.
The road is also the only one in the park that stays open year-round and serves as a vital connection for children traveling from Cooke City, Montana, to Gardiner, Montana, for school.
You can think of the valley as being divided into three segments.
The expanse between the Yellowstone River Bridge and Lamar River Bridge starts your journey. You might not technically be in the valley, but that doesn’t mean the wildlife is absent. Bear Jams, the phenomena when bears emerge from a winter slumber in their dens, are common in this stretch of road. Should you encounter one, here are some safety tips to practice.
The Yellowstone Picnic Area and Slough Creek Campground are also located in this section.
This is the valley proper. Carved out by glaciers during the ice age 10,000 years ago, the vast expanse of land stretches for miles. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is in the valley. It’s a historic bison conservation ranch that helped bring the population back in the area after near extinction in the 1800s. Stop by one of the education centers, which are open to schools and the public.
The final section of the road takes you from Soda Butte Creek to Cooke City, Montana. Along with the butte, you’ll also pass the Pebble Creek Campground and Ice Box Canyon as the mountains start to surround you.