Take a walk on the wild side in West Yellowstone, Montana, at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center (GWDC). The American Zoo & Aquarium Association-accredited wildlife park and educational facility offers groups the unique experience of an up-close look at Yellowstone’s most extraordinary and notable animal species, including grizzly bears, wolves, and river otters.

From raptors and great horned owls to grizzly bears and three different wolf packs, the center aims to provide intimate viewing and educational opportunities to inspire the next generation of naturalists, conservationists, and wildlife advocates. The 14-acre wildlife center is home to eight wolves, eight grizzlies, and numerous other wildlife species.

“The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is a great place to start or end a visit to Yellowstone National Park,” says John Heine, executive director of the GWDC. “While groups may see bison in the wild at the national park, animals like wolves, bears, and river otter sightings are much more rare. Our destination gives groups the opportunity to learn from naturalists as they see the animals up close.”

Naturalist Cabin
Credit: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

Inside the center’s Naturalist Cabin, floor-to-ceiling windows give visitors an intimate view of the complex social lives of the GWDC’s wolves as they interact across packs. The center also houses the world-class exhibit “BEARS: Imagination and Reality,” originally produced by the Science Museum of Minnesota. The exhibit offers groups the chance to better understand the science, natural life, and behavioral habits behind some of the world’s largest mammals.

In 2019, the center opened the state-of-the-art “Banks of the Yellowstone River Otter” exhibit, which showcases and educates the public about Yellowstone’s native animal species, including the exhibit’s showstopper: the North American river otter. Groups can walk through the immersive facility that reflects the otters’ pond, stream, and waterfall habitat found within Yellowstone. Get a good look at the otters and learn from supplemental interpretive and educational materials throughout the exhibit.

“Banks of the Yellowstone River Otter” exhibit
Credit: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

“Groups can really get the lay of the land and a better understanding of the ecosystems and animals you can find throughout Yellowstone,” Heine says. “Here, groups have the unique opportunity to go nose-to-nose with the wolves at the Naturalist Cabin glass viewing area or watch river otters interact in our Yellowstone riparian habitat.”

Daily presentations and demonstrations from the center’s naturalists, as well as talks from actual Yellowstone National Park rangers, take place in the museum theater, along with a variety of rotating educational wildlife movies, which are included with admission.

To book a group trip at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, tour planners should email the education department at education@grizzlydiscoveryctr.com and include information on the size of the group, age of the visitors, date and time of the proposed visit, and the planner’s contact information.

For more information about Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center call 406-646-7001 or go to grizzlyctr.givecloud.co.

Main image: Bear viewing; Credit: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

Article by Erica Zazo