This Exclusive Wildlife Tour Gives Guests A Rare Look Inside Yellowstone’s Wolf Country

Yellowstone National Park is known for its iconic landscapes, towering geysers, vibrant geothermal sites – and one of the country’s most diverse and abundant wildlife populations. And while most of us likely picture bison, elk, and moose we’ve seen in countless books and postcards when dreaming about wildlife-spotting in Yellowstone, they’re just a small portion of the different species visitors may see in the park’s 2.2 million acres (which, for scale, is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined).

In fact, Yellowstone boasts a huge number of wildlife species: 300 bird species, 16 fish, six reptiles, and five species of amphibians. Plus, it’s home to an impressive 67 species of mammals, and has the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states. The northern range of the park also happens to be one of the best places in the world to watch the gray wolf – a far more elusive creature than the bison, elk, and moose visitors to Yellowstone can often see on the sides of the roads without even leaving their cars.

Starting this month, visitors have a new way to learn about Yellowstone’s majestic gray wolf population: a day-long excursion offered exclusively by Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole in partnership with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris and Yellowstone Safari Company. “The opportunity to engage with the Yellowstone gray wolf population in its natural habitat is a milestone experience not soon forgotten,” says Four Seasons Jackson Hole General Manager Ryan Grande. “This new program allows our guests to better understand the complexity of our unique ecosystem, and come away with a vested interest in preserving this environment – and diverse array of native wildlife, including the gray wolf – for future generations.”

Back in 1872, when Yellowstone was named America’s first National Park, hundreds of gray wolves lived in the area. But according to the National Park Service, by about 75 years later, they were gone: “At the time, the wolves’ habit of killing prey species was considered ‘wanton destruction’ of the animals. Between 1914 and 1926, at least 136 wolves were killed in the park; by the 1940s, wolf packs were rarely reported. By the mid-1900s, wolves had been almost entirely eliminated from the 48 states.”

Thankfully, in the mid-1990s, efforts began to restore Yellowstone’s wolf population: wild gray wolves were relocated from Canada and released into Yellowstone and surrounding areas. Now, more than 25 years later, the National Park Service and their partners in the conservation program continue to study and learn from the wolf population of the park. “This immersive experience with the gray wolf population of Yellowstone provides an unparalleled chance to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat, while also learning how to sustain their existence” says Matt Scott, owner of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris.

But while Yellowstone’s idyllic landscapes are rustic, this is an exclusive Four Seasons excursion – meaning the experience itself is anything but. The exclusive adventure starts with a private flight from the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in an eight-passenger Pilatus aircraft. From there, up to six guests will fly north over the pristine wilderness of the Grand Tetons and the greater Yellowstone basin before landing in Livingston, Montana – which is the northern edge of the Yellowstone ecosystem, and prime wolf-spotting country.

There, guests will be met by an expert naturalist, who will teach them about the history, movement, and behaviors of the gray wolf. Then, they’ll get the chance to see the wolves in their natural habitat…and may even spot some moose, elk, bison, and black or grizzly bears along the way. The guides will share their expertise about identifying animal tracks with guests while they travel the park on foot, and in a luxury safari vehicle.

“The beauty and grandeur of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem as an experience, an education tool, and a passion is at the very heart of what we do,” says Scott. “The cornerstone of our sustainable business works in a cyclical pattern: awareness and appreciation for the flora, fauna, and landscapes encourages conservation and protection for those resources. A nearly intact ecosystem provides a platform for our business to operate. Our wildlife safari tours serve to bring awareness and appreciation for our wild spaces.”

The just-launched Day with the Wolves excursion will be available annually from October through May. It’s an all-inclusive adventure that includes the private flight, guided tour by an expert naturalist, and customizable meals and drinks for the day. The price is $16,000 for up to six guests, and must be booked in advance. A portion of each trip will be donated to both the Yellowstone Wolf Project, which oversees research and monitoring of wolves in Yellowstone, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Visit Four Seasons Jackson Hole for more information.

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