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Watching Wildlife at Yosemite National Park

Nestled into California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is famous for its ancient sequoia trees, the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Fall, and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. More than just an ancient trove of geological spectacles, Yosemite boasts an impressive wildlife community as well.

Home to more than 500 black bears, although presenting more brown than black in appearance, Yosemite National Park is bursting with mammal activity. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars to view the 262 bird species that reside within the park!

Yosemite National Park’s Top Animals

  • Black Bears
  • Mule Deer
  • Bobcats
  • Mountain Lions
  • Turtles
  • Coyotes
  • Elk
  • Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
    • This specific branch-off breed of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep can be seen in Yosemite National Park. Home to more than 600 bighorn sheep, they are currently on the endangered species list.
  • Pacific Fishers
    • Fishers are tree-dwelling carnivores that were once abundant throughout the states of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. They have been extirpated from more than 50% of their previous range, though some live abundantly within Yosemite National Park. Although they have faced adversity in the past, they have proven to be a hardy and durable species.

Viewing Locations

Mariposa Grove: Mule deer, elk, coyotes, mountain lions, bighorn sheep
Tuolumne: Pacific fishers, black bears, bobcats, bighorn sheep
Meadows: Bears, elk, mule deer
Pine Campgrounds: Bears
Curry Village: Bears, bighorn sheep
Glacier Point: Bears

When Should You Go?

Due to Yosemite’s location high up in the mountains, the park can be closed for many months out of the year due to snow and dangerous conditions. Therefore, it’s most popular to visit the park between the months of May and September. The busiest wildlife viewing months are June through August, but if you want a better chance of being able to enjoy the animals in private, try late April/early May or late September when it’s less crowded. Less noise and commotion will make it more likely that the animals will show themselves near you.