Glacier National Park Area Wildlife

Planning a trip to Glacier? Well, you’re probably curious about Glacier National Park area wildlife, whether you’re dying to see a grizzly bear, or would rather die than see one. Either way, we can help!

Glacier National Park is part of the 8 million acre Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. This incredible terrain provides habitat for amazing amounts of wildlife — and plenty of incredible viewing opportunities, too! If you’re into that sort of thing.

All wildlife deserves our respect and can be dangerous. An experienced guide can provide you with opportunities for safer viewing, and will always help keep you safe. Please act responsibly if you encounter wildlife, and try to avoid disturbing their natural behavior when you view them. Northwest Montana contains areas of natural wilderness, including Glacier National Park, that provide the required habitat for a wide array of flora and fauna. Many of these species are hard to find, or have been exterminated from other parts of the country. Here is an overview of what you can expect for Glacier National Park area wildlife viewing.

Mountain Goat Glacier National Park area wildlifeMountain Goat   
Yellowish-white fur; beard about 5″ (12 cm) long. Eyes, nose, hooves, and horns black. Backward-curving, dagger-like horns, to 12″ (30 cm) long in male, 9″ (23 cm) in female. Juvenile has brown hairs along back. Female smaller than male.

Bighorn SheepBig Horn Sheep Glacier National Park area wildlife
Color varies: dark brown to pale tan. White belly, rump, muzzle. Short, dark tail. Ram has massive curling horns; ewe has short, slender horns. Juvenile has creamy-fawn coat.

Hoary Marmot
Silver-gray; brownish rump; whitish belly. Nose and patch between eyes whitish; black on forehead; often black band above nose. Tail reddish brown, bushy. Feet very dark; forefeet may have white spots.

Grizzly BearGrizzly Bear Glacier National Park area wildlife
Yellowish brown to dark brown, often with white-tipped hairs, giving grizzled appearance. Hump above shoulders. Facial profile usually concave. Claws of front feet nearly 4 in (10 cm) long.  You can download a great booklet about grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, of which Glacier National Park is a part, here.

Golden Eagle
A large, all-dark eagle with a pale golden nape. Bill is smaller and darker than that of Bald Eagle. In young birds, tail white at base, black at tip; white patches on undersides of wings.

Black Bear
Black to cinnamon, sometimes with white blaze on chest. Snout tan or grizzled; in profile straight or slightly convex. Male much larger than female.

Moose Glacier National Park area wildlifeMoose
Long, dark brown fur. High, humped shoulders; long, thin legs; small tail. Huge pendulous muzzle; large dewlap under chin; large ears. Male larger than female, with massive, flattened antlers. Calf light-colored, unspotted.

Great Horned Owl
A large owl, varying in color – vermiculated markings, dark brown and gray. Mottled and streaked below, setting off the white throat; prominent, widely spaced ear tufts; yellow eyes.

Northern River Otter
Dark brown above; paler belly. Throat often silver gray. Ears and eyes small. Prominent whitish whiskers. Long tail thick at base, gradually tapering to a point. Feet webbed. Male larger than female.

Common Garter Snake
Coloration highly variable, but back and side stripes usually well-defined. Red blotches or a double row of alternating black spots often present between stripes.

Wild Turkey
Dusky brown, barred with black, with iridescent bronze sheen; head and neck naked, with bluish and reddish wattles; tail fan-shaped, with chestnut, buff, or white tail tips. Male has spurs and long “beard” on breast. Female smaller, lacks spurs and usually “beard.”

ElkElk Glacier National Park area wildlife
Brown or tan above; underparts darker. Rump and tail yellowish brown. Buck has dark brown mane on throat and large antlers with 6 tines on each side when mature; main beam up to 5′ (1.5 m) long. Juvenile spotted until 3 months of age.

Mountain Lion
Unspotted; pale brown to tawny above; white to buff below. Long, dark-tipped tail. Relatively small head. Dark spot at base of whiskers. Ears short and rounded, with dark backs. Juvenile buff with black spots

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Above and below 2-toned; inner dark and outer light. Above, inner dark area chocolate-brown with 2 red-orange patches on forewing costa, outer part has yellow band blending into bright orange band. Below, inner area brown; outer band tan.

White-tailed Deer
Tan or reddish brown to grayish. Belly, throat, nose band white. Tail brown edged with white above; white below. Black spots on sides of chin. Buck’s antlers have main beam forward, unbranched tines behind, small brow tine. Fawn spotted..

Bald EagleBald Eagle Glacier National Park area wildlife
A large blackish eagle with white head, tail, heavy yellow bill. Young birds lack the white head and tail, and resemble adult Golden Eagles, but are variably marked with white and have a black, more massive bill.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Back gray, brownish, or buff. Head and shoulders coppery red, forming golden mantle. Belly whitish. 1 white stripe bordered by black stripes on each side; no stripes on face.

Ruffed Grouse
A brown or gray-brown, chicken-like bird with slight crest, fan-shaped, black-banded tail, barred flanks, and black “ruffs” on sides of neck.

Gray Wolf
A very large canid, usually grizzled gray, but showing great variation in color, ranging from white to black. Long, bushy tail with black tip. The Gray Wolf is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; and is classified as threatened in Minnesota. The Mexican Wolf subspecies is considered extinct in the United States.

Cutthroat Troutcutthroat trout Glacier National Park area wildlife
Back dark olive; sides variable: silvery, olive, reddish to yellow-orange; belly lighter; dark spots on back, sides, and on median fins. Mouth extends beyond eye; basibranchial teeth present; bright red to red-orange slash mark on each side of throat, particularly visible in breeding males. 8-11 dorsal fin rays; 9-12 anal fin rays; adipose fin present. Caudal peduncle narrow; caudal fin slightly forked.

Glacier National Park area wildlife is always a delight to see, but remember to treat all wild creatures with respect and a safe distance. Zoom lenses are your friend!