Caribou-Targhee National Forest is located in the states of Idaho and Wyoming, with a small section in Utah. Part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a vast expanse of over three million acres of pristine wilderness On a recent camping trip, we were lucky to have multiple sightings of the animals in Caribou-Targhee National Forest that call this paradise home!
This enchanting forest is home to a diverse array of wildlife, offering campers the opportunity to encounter unique and captivating creatures.
Here, we present 17 animals you may come across during your camping adventure in Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
The majestic elk is one of the largest species of deer found in North America. With their impressive antlers and striking appearance, these creatures are a sight to behold.
Elk, one of the largest deer species in North America, are often seen in the meadows near Teton Canyon Campground and along the Teton Creek Trail.
With their impressive antlers and social behavior, these creatures are especially captivating during their rutting season in the fall.
The massive and powerful moose can be found in marshy areas and around water bodies within the forest. Be sure to keep a safe distance as they can be unpredictable.
The massive and powerful moose prefer marshy areas and water bodies. They are frequently spotted at the Lower Palisades Lake Trail and in the vicinity of the Green Canyon Campground.
Keep a safe distance, as moose can be unpredictable, especially when they have young calves or during the rutting season.
This iconic species is known for its large, mule-like ears and graceful, bounding gait. Mule deer are commonly found grazing in meadows and along forest edges.
Mule deer are known for their large, mule-like ears and unique bounding gait called stotting. You may encounter them at the Mike Harris Campground and while hiking the Darby Canyon Wind Cave Trail.
Mule deer are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk.
With their curved horns and agile movements, bighorn sheep are a symbol of the rugged wilderness. Look for them on steep, rocky terrain where they excel at climbing and navigating.
Bighorn sheep, characterized by their curved horns and exceptional climbing abilities, are often spotted in the steep, rocky terrain near the Table Mountain Trail and the Alaska Basin Trail.
Males, called rams, may engage in impressive head-butting battles during the mating season.
These sure-footed animals are native to the region and can be spotted in high-elevation areas. Their thick, white coats and black horns make them a distinctive sight on the mountainside.
Mountain goats are native to the region and can be seen in high-elevation areas, such as the Jedediah Smith Wilderness and along the Teton Crest Trail.
These sure-footed animals have specialized hooves that enable them to navigate the rugged, steep terrain with ease.
Famous for their speed, pronghorns are the fastest land mammals in North America. Their unique, forked horns and white patches on their necks make them easily identifiable.
Pronghorns, famous for being the fastest land mammals in North America, are most likely to be encountered in the open grasslands near the Kelly Canyon Campground and along the Fall Creek Trail.
They are also known for their incredible migratory journeys, covering hundreds of miles each year.
The awe-inspiring grizzly bear is a symbol of North American wilderness. While they can be dangerous, observing these powerful animals from a distance is a memorable experience.
Grizzly bears, powerful and awe-inspiring, inhabit various parts of the forest but are most commonly seen around the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road and near the Yellowstone National Park boundary.
It is essential to maintain a safe distance and follow bear safety guidelines to protect both yourself and the bears.
Smaller than the grizzly, black bears are skilled climbers and can often be spotted foraging for food in trees or on the forest floor.
Black bears, smaller and more agile than grizzlies, can often be spotted foraging for food in trees or on the forest floor near the Reunion Flat Campground and along the Phillips Pass Trail.
They are highly adaptable and have a varied diet, including berries, insects, and fish.
The elusive grey wolf, once nearly eradicated from the region, has made a remarkable comeback. Keep an ear out for their haunting howls echoing through the forest.
The elusive grey wolf, once nearly eradicated from the region, has made a remarkable comeback.
They have been known to frequent areas around the Pacific Creek Campground and the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.
Wolves are highly social animals, living and hunting in packs led by an alpha pair.
Coyotes are highly adaptable animals, thriving in a range of habitats within Caribou-Targhee National Forest. You may spot them in meadows, forests, or even near your campsite.
Coyotes, highly adaptable and intelligent animals, can be found in various habitats within Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
You may spot them near the Teton Basin Ranger District campgrounds or along the South Fork of the Snake River.
These cunning predators have a diverse diet, including rodents, rabbits, and even insects.
With their fiery red fur and bushy tails, red foxes are a striking sight in the forest. They are skilled hunters, preying on small mammals and birds.
Red Foxes, with their fiery red fur and bushy tails, can be spotted throughout the forest, particularly in the vicinity of the Big Elk Creek Campground and while exploring the Huckleberry Trail.
They are skilled hunters, and their keen sense of hearing enables them to locate prey hidden beneath the snow or vegetation.
North American River Otter
These playful, aquatic mammals can be found in the rivers and streams of the forest. Watch for their sleek, streamlined bodies as they dive and swim in search of fish.
North American river otters are playful, aquatic mammals found in rivers and streams throughout the forest. Look for them near the Cave Falls Campground or while hiking the Bechler River Trail.
These sociable animals often engage in playful behavior, such as sliding down muddy banks or wrestling with each other.
The small, rabbit-like American pika is a delightful sight among the talus slopes and rocky terrain of the forest. Listen for their high-pitched calls as they communicate with one another.
American pikas, small, rabbit-like creatures, are commonly seen among talus slopes and rocky terrain near the Grand Teton National Park boundary and along the Teton Crest Trail.
They are adapted to cold climates and create “haypiles” of vegetation to store food for the harsh winter months.
As the national bird of the United States, the bald eagle is a powerful symbol of freedom. Look for them soaring above the forest, scanning for prey with their sharp eyes.
Bald eagles, the national bird of the United States, are often seen soaring above the forest, particularly near the Palisades Reservoir and along the Snake River.
The Swan Valley area is another prime location to spot these magnificent birds, which have a wingspan of up to 8 feet and are known for their exceptional fishing skills.
With their wide wingspan and piercing eyes, red-tailed hawks are skilled predators. They can often be seen perched on tree branches or soaring overhead.
Red-tailed hawks, with their wide wingspan and piercing eyes, can be observed perched on tree branches or soaring overhead near the Teton Canyon Campground and the Pine Creek Pass area.
These skilled predators use their powerful talons to capture prey such as rodents, birds, and even snakes.
Great Horned Owl
The nocturnal great horned owl is an impressive predator, with its large size and distinctive ear tufts. Listen for their deep, resonating hoots in the nighttime forest.
Great horned owls, the largest common owl in North America, are most active during the nighttime and can be found throughout Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Listen for their deep, resonating hoots near the McCrea Bridge Campground or while exploring the Kelly Canyon area. They are known for their exceptional hearing and silent flight, allowing them to hunt for prey in complete stealth.
The American dipper, also known as the water ouzel, is a small, plump bird found along the forest’s rushing streams and rivers. With their unique ability to walk and swim underwater, these fascinating birds search for insects and larvae in the water.
The American dipper, also known as the water ouzel, is a small, plump bird often spotted along the forest’s rushing streams and rivers, such as the South Fork of the Snake River and near the Warm River Campground.
Their unique ability to walk and swim underwater enables them to forage for insects and larvae in the water, and they are known for their distinctive bobbing behavior while perched on rocks.
Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a treasure trove of wildlife, providing campers with ample opportunities to observe and appreciate the diverse animals that call this incredible landscape home.
From the majestic elk to the playful river otter, the animals you encounter while camping in this vast wilderness will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Remember to respect the creatures you encounter, maintain a safe distance, and follow all guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience for both humans and animals alike.