Winter in Yellowstone: Hanging with the Coyotes


The end of the day on the Blacktail Plateau in Yellowstone, February 8, 2013.

A lone coyote makes his way across a hillside in the late afternoon sun.



He’s looking at his shadow, trying to figure out how it is that he’s suddenly turned into a tropical iguana.

Or a warthog.


Before the wolves returned to Yellowstone in 1995, the coyotes there had a pretty cushy life.  Sure, they had to watch out for mountain lions and grizzlies -and cars – but for the most part they were in charge.   In the winter, especially, they were the kings: the grizzlies were sleeping, and they could have their fill of winter-killed elk and bison.   I imagine it was a pretty rude shock once the first wolves were released to discover that someone way bigger than they were was not going to let them near a downed elk until all of the good stuff was gone.

The coyote population decreased by about half in the first ten years after the wolves were re-introduced, but you can still see plenty of them in the park, especially on a clear winter day.

As I watched the lone guy checking out his shadow, another coyote trotted up over the ridge, and came to say hello.



I’m thinking we’ve got a dating situation going on here.

They move in for a closer look:


Dance around for a bit:


And that’s it.  They go their separate ways.


Maybe not a date, after all.

About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife, Yellowstone and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Winter in Yellowstone: Hanging with the Coyotes

  1. lylekrahn says:

    Beautiful shots and story. I’m looking forward to going there in a couple of months.

  2. We actually have coyotes here in the city, right in our neighborhood not three miles from downtown. I always enjoy seeing them. Thanks for the lovely photos.

  3. So exactly how far were you from these coyotes? Apparently there are lots in Minnesota, too, although I’ve never seen, only heard, them. Great shots and accompanying story.

  4. beeseeker says:

    You know how to start a rumour then … Great pictures and commentary, thanks!

  5. ldsiebs says:

    Beautiful shots! I particularly love the one with both coyotes with the sun sparkling on the snow. I love Yellowstone. We have only been in the summer, but it’s one of my favorite places. Thank you for sharing!

    • westerner54 says:

      Thanks! Having the chance to go to Yellowstone is one of the things that makes winter bearable for me, so I’m glad I can do it. (And discovering how fun it is to share stuff on my blog helps with the winter doldrums as well!)

  6. oopsjohn says:

    What beautiful coats they have in the winter, not the scrawny summer look I’m used to. Great pictures! From what I am reading the Blacktail wolves are pretty active now too. Can’t wait until I can return in May!

    • westerner54 says:

      I’ve been reading the same thing. We were skiing near where they were, and I did hear some howling, but never saw them. And I can’t wait until May just because it will be warm (kind of!).

  7. LuAnn says:

    We love Yellowstone in the winter. It is like you have your own private park…just beautiful. 🙂

  8. wyominglife says:

    Great shots and the Lamar Valley is a great place!

    I cross country ski and I’d like to take my Digital SLR camera along, but I haven’t come up with a good way to have the camera handy, yet protected from the cold. How do you carry your camera while you’re skiing?

    • westerner54 says:

      Thanks. The camera isn’t usually too handy while I’m skiing – it’s in a case in my backpack, so I have to stop and fumble around for a while. I keep it out more when I’m snowshoeing, just because I’m not so worried about losing my balance!

  9. wyominglife says:

    Do you have trouble with it functioning when it’s below 20-ish F? Mine quit on me again today at 14 degrees F. I read somewhere the LCD screens can’t take those temps.

  10. I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! Come check it out and claim your award:

  11. znara says:

    I love the cute shadow shots. They had me giggling because I never would have noticed if you hadn’t pointed them out.

  12. ailsapm says:

    Oh wow, amazing, I long to visit Yellowstone in the winter. Those coyotes are so cool.

  13. I envy your access! But I also enjoy it enormously, traveling with you in this vicarious way. Great post.

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