Wildlife

Planning a trip to Glacier? Wondering what Glacier National Park wildlife awaits your visit? 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! 

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. Try to avoid disturbing their natural behavior when you view them. 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!

Northwest Montana contains many areas of 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
Iconic Glacier National Park wildlife, for sure. Symbol of the Great Northern Railway, too. 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

Mountain Goat, Montana

Bighorn Sheep

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.

Bighorn sheep resting peacefully in a field of Glacier Lillies in Glacier National Park, Montana.

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 Bear

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.

Grizzly Bear

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.

bear in Glacier National Park

Moose
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 Otters
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 Snakes
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 Eagle

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.

Bald Eagle Smith River

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.

wolf track in Glacier National Park

Cutthroat Trout

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.

westslope cutthroat Glacier National Park