As we drove into West Yellowstone, Montana, there was an immense build-up of excitement and maybe a tiny squeal from me in the passenger seat as yet another bucket list moment was just around the corner. Yellowstone National Park – the land of bears and bison and steaming hot geysers were just around the corner. But before all that, we had a day to spend around West Yellowstone.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
Travelling around multiple National Parks and not seeing one bear as of yet, this was my chance to finally see one (or five) in the flesh.
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is a not-for-profit wildlife park and education facility that is open 365 days a year and your ticket is valid for two consecutive days. There is a museum in the entrance that provides a greater understanding of how Grizzly’s and Wolves survive in the wild. It involved taxidermic black and grizzly bears, set in their relative environments and had explanations on how they behave and hunt for food. There was a variety of areas that covered myths, history and science that all beautifully collided into an interactive experience. By visiting this centre, I felt more confident in knowing what to do if I would happen to sight a bear in the wild and how to react.
After a walk through the museum, you walk outside to the bears that are currently living at the Discovery Center. These bears were all born and raised out in the wild but unfortunately, have had their world clash with the general public one too many times and have created habits not sustainable long-term in the wild. This is almost like a rehab centre for them. The bears have a lot of room to move around, but you could argue it is not the same as living in their natural habitat. There are a variety of guided walks throughout the day to help you learn more about the animals here at the centre. We listened to a guide who taught you how to defend yourself using bear spray in the wild. There are many animals here, not just wolves and bears. There are also a variety of birds such as eagles and owls.
Overall, I found this experience beneficial for someone that has never had the chance to see a bear up close. I spent time just watching them play, clean themselves and just soak in the beauty of these gentle, yet dominating beasts. I would allow a couple of hours to look around and learn!
I do wish I had packed a hat and a bottle of sunscreen as there is limited shade outside when viewing the animals.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
201 South Canyon, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Hours vary depending on the season, please check the website here for more details
Yellowstone Giant Screen – National Parks Adventure
Located next to the Grizzly Discovery Center, it is just a short walk to see a film and get out of the hot afternoon sun.
MacGillivray Freeman’s National Parks Adventure was showing at Yellowstone Giant Screen, hearing rave reviews about it, I really wanted to see it.
The film itself showcased the national parks in their real beauty, and the storyline was intriguing and emotional. It even made me cry a little, to be honest.
The IMAX shows multiple films about Yellowstone as well as currently limited films.
To find out what is currently showing, see the link here.
Under Canvas at Yellowstone
Located just six miles outside the national park lies Under Canvas at Yellowstone. This accommodation is all about a luxurious camping experience nestled amongst the dry meadows, rolling hills and creeks while providing all the amenities and privacy to enjoy some well-deserved rest.
Arriving at the property, you will be met with rolling hills of Montana and a long driveway. Once you reach the large tent, you are satisfied with one of the workers who will check you in. You have then whisked away in a golf buggy and driven to your designated tent. Your tent is numbered and includes full bed linen and towels. As well as safari chairs, chest of drawers, bedside tables and a lantern. Our tent also contained a wood burning stove as well as complimentary firewood for those chilly nights.
The experience doesn’t just stop at the exquisiteness of the layout and design of the tent. These are multiple short walk trails that lead down to the creek. This is a favourite spot in Summer as it’s refreshing to swim or dangle your legs in after a long day’s drive. You will also see a Hammock Hangout nearby which we had a swing in a while.
There is also an on-site restaurant called Bar n’ Ranch. Here you can try local Bison and Elk burgers. I had to try the Elk burger. It was lean but delicious! Well worth a try for something a little different!
After dinner, we strolled back, with our tummies full and headed to the campfire. Under Canvas provide complimentary s’mores, so we thought, considering we grew up in Australia and did grow up with the practice, we would attempt to master the art of s’mores-ing. We enjoyed our night getting to know like-minded campers from all around the world. We all shared one thing in common, a love for nature and the national parks. We spent the night discussing what we did for a living as well as providing each other advice for the best ways to view the parks. The locals also showed us the true way to create the perfect s’more. I ended up with too much marshmallow over my hands, it was a little bit of a disaster, to be honest,, but at least everyone got a laugh. This was one of my favourite nights on our trip.
To book your next stay, check out the website here.
890 Buttermilk Creek Road, West Yellowstone, MT 59758, USA