"The guest said out loud exactly what I was thinking, 'Is that a bear?'" a tour guide recalled.
Advertisement
Scenic view of lake by frozen trees in Yellowstone National Park
Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images

A wolverine was spotted inside Yellowstone National Park by a tour guide recently — and the rare animal was captured on camera.

The guide, McNeil Lyons, was in a car with a 9-year-old visitor and her father on the morning of March 5 when the animal appeared on a snow-dusted road, he told Travel + Leisure.

"The guest said out loud exactly what I was thinking, 'Is that a bear?'" he recalled. "For a hot second, we both thought it might be a young black bear moving away from us, but as it turned and looked over its right shoulder towards us – there was no mistaking the elusive animal was indeed, a Wolverine!"

A Wolverine spotted at Yellowstone
Credit: MacNeil Lyons/Courtesy of Yellowstone Insight

They spent three minutes studying the animal before another car approached and the wolverine climbed up a snow-covered hill.

Luckily, the tour guide and his group spotted the wolverine once more, allowing Lyons to snap some incredible photos from the roof of his vehicle.

Lyons also documented the experience in a Facebook post.

There are only seven documented wolverines in Yellowstone National Park and the adjoining national forests — two females and five males — according to the National Park Service. Wolverines are part of the weasel family, are active in cold and snowy environments, and tend to inhabit very remote areas.

Tapping the expertise of a wildlife tracker, Lyons was told that the wolverine traveled about less than 130 yards on the day they saw it.

"We actually were very blessed to be there at that exact moment to witness this rare animal before it scampered back into the dense evergreen forest that parallels that stretch of Yellowstone's road corridor!" he said.

Yellowstone, which is set over three different states, was created as the first national park in America on March 1, 1872. Today, the park is celebrating 150 years of welcoming people to marvel at its colorful hot springs, geysers, and herds of bison.

While wolverines are extremely rare, they aren't the only elusive animal in Yellowstone. The park is also home to just over 100 known Canada lynx, which have been listed as "threatened" in the lower 48 states, according to the NPS.

And at least eight packs with 95 gray wolves live in the park as of Dec. 2021 after wild wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were released in Yellowstone in the 1990s.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.