Eco-Friendly Wildlife Tours in Montana: Your Guide to Sustainable Travel

wildlife tourism

Montana’s sprawling landscapes and rich biodiversity make it a premier destination for wildlife enthusiasts. From the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the serene prairies and extensive forests, Montana offers unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature. However, enjoying these wonders comes with a responsibility to preserve them. This guide aims to answer your questions about eco-friendly wildlife tours in Montana and provide sustainable travel tips.

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Let’s embark on a journey to explore how you can make the most of your adventure while protecting the environment.

Common Questions and Concerns

What Are Eco-Friendly Wildlife Tours?

Eco-friendly wildlife tours are designed to minimize environmental impact while providing an educational and immersive experience. 

These tours prioritize conservation efforts and promote sustainable practices. 

By choosing eco-friendly tours, you help protect wildlife habitats and support local communities.

Why Choose Sustainable Travel Options?

Sustainable travel ensures that the beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife of Montana remain intact for future generations.
It involves making conscious decisions that reduce your carbon footprint, support local economies, and preserve natural resources. 

Sustainable travel is not only about protecting the environment but also about enhancing your travel experience by fostering a deeper connection with the places you visit.

How Can I Make My Wildlife Tour in Montana More Eco-Friendly?

There are numerous ways to make your wildlife tour in Montana more sustainable. From choosing responsible tour operators to adopting eco-friendly practices, your efforts can significantly impact the preservation of Montana’s natural beauty.

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Wildlife Tour

Choose a Responsible Tour Operator

Selecting the right tour operator is crucial for an eco-friendly experience. Responsible tour operators implement practices that protect the environment and contribute to local communities. 

Here are some questions to ask potential operators:

  • What is their conservation policy? A good operator will have clear policies focused on minimizing environmental impact.
  • Do they employ local guides? Hiring local guides supports the community and provides authentic insights into the region’s culture and ecology.
  • How do they minimize their environmental footprint? Look for practices like using fuel-efficient vehicles, limiting group sizes, and adhering to Leave No Trace principles.

Travel Light and Pack Wisely

Packing thoughtfully can reduce waste and environmental impact. 

Here’s a checklist of eco-friendly items to bring on your trip:

  • Reusable water bottle: Avoid single-use plastics and stay hydrated.
  • Eco-friendly sunscreen: Choose sunscreens that are free from harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate.
  • Biodegradable soap: Use biodegradable products to prevent water pollution.
  • Reusable bags and containers: Pack snacks and personal items in reusable bags to reduce waste.

Respect Wildlife and Their Habitats

Respecting wildlife and their natural habitats is paramount during your tour. 

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Keep a safe distance: Use binoculars or a zoom lens to observe animals without disturbing them.
  • Stay quiet and unobtrusive: Avoid loud noises and sudden movements that could startle wildlife.
  • Do not feed animals: Feeding wildlife can harm their health and alter their natural behaviors.
  • Stick to designated paths: Straying off paths can damage fragile ecosystems and disturb wildlife.

Support Local and Sustainable Businesses

Supporting local businesses not only boosts the local economy but also reduces your carbon footprint. 

Consider these options:

  • Eco-friendly accommodations: Stay in lodges and hotels that implement sustainable practices like energy conservation and waste reduction.
  • Local dining: Eat at locally-owned restaurants that source ingredients from nearby farms and producers.
  • Handmade souvenirs: Purchase souvenirs made by local artisans to support the community and reduce the environmental impact of mass-produced goods.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Adopting the three R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle—can significantly lower your environmental impact:

  • Reduce: Limit the use of single-use plastics and unnecessary packaging.
  • Reuse: Bring reusable items such as water bottles, coffee cups, and shopping bags.
  • Recycle: Properly dispose of recyclables in designated bins provided by your accommodation or tour operator.

Leave No Trace

The Leave No Trace principles are essential for preserving natural areas. These principles include:

Plan ahead and prepare: Research your destination and pack accordingly.

  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites to avoid damaging vegetation.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Carry out all trash and use biodegradable products.
  • Leave what you find: Do not disturb natural or cultural artifacts.
  • Minimize campfire impact: Use a stove for cooking instead of making a fire.
  • Respect wildlife: Observe animals from a distance and do not feed them.
  • Be considerate of other visitors: Keep noise levels down and respect other travelers’ experiences.

Relatable Examples

Imagine you’re hiking through Yellowstone National Park, your reusable water bottle filled from a natural spring. 

As you walk, you spot a herd of bison grazing in the distance. You quietly observe, using binoculars to get a closer look without disturbing them. 

Later, you dine at a local eatery that prides itself on sourcing ingredients from nearby farms. 

These simple, mindful choices enhance your travel experience and contribute to the conservation of Montana’s natural beauty.

In-Depth Look at Montana’s Eco-Friendly Wildlife Tour Options

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, often called the “Crown of the Continent,” is a prime location for eco-friendly wildlife tours. With over a million acres of rugged terrain, including pristine forests, alpine meadows, and glacial-carved valleys, it’s a haven for diverse wildlife.

Eco-Friendly Tour Options

Ranger-led Programs: Participate in programs led by park rangers that focus on conservation and the natural history of the park.

  • Guided Hikes: Join small group hikes that follow Leave No Trace principles and educate participants about local ecosystems.
  • Wildlife Safaris: Opt for tours that use eco-friendly transportation methods like electric vehicles or bicycles.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world, is renowned for its geothermal features and abundant wildlife. From grizzly bears to wolves, bison, and elk, Yellowstone offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.

Eco-Friendly Tour Options

Sustainable Wildlife Watching: Choose tours that emphasize minimal disturbance to wildlife and educate guests about the importance of conservation.

  • Eco-conscious Camping: Stay in campgrounds that implement sustainable practices, such as recycling programs and solar energy usage.
  • Geothermal Tours: Explore the park’s geothermal features with operators who prioritize environmental stewardship.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex offers solitude and stunning landscapes. This area is perfect for those looking to connect deeply with nature.

Eco-Friendly Tour Options

Backpacking Trips: Join guided backpacking trips that follow Leave No Trace principles and promote environmental education.

  • Horseback Tours: Experience the wilderness on horseback with outfitters who practice sustainable grazing and waste management.
  • Fly Fishing: Enjoy fly fishing with guides who emphasize catch-and-release practices and habitat conservation.
Eco-Friendly Wildlife

Sustainable Travel Tips for Specific Activities

Hiking and Trekking

Hiking and trekking are popular activities in Montana. To ensure your hikes are eco-friendly, follow these tips:

  • Stay on trails: Prevent erosion and protect vegetation by staying on marked trails.
  • Pack out all waste: Carry a small bag to collect your trash and any litter you find.
  • Use eco-friendly gear: Invest in durable, high-quality gear that lasts longer and reduces waste.

Wildlife Photography

Capturing stunning wildlife photos can be a rewarding part of your trip. Here’s how to do it sustainably:

  • Use a long lens: Avoid getting too close to animals by using a long lens for close-up shots.
  • Avoid flash: Flash photography can startle wildlife and disrupt their natural behavior.
  • Stay patient and respectful: Give animals time and space, and never chase or harass them for a photo.


Camping is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in Montana’s wilderness. Ensure your camping trip is eco-friendly by:

  • Choosing established campsites: Use designated camping areas to minimize your impact on the environment.
  • Practicing fire safety: Use a camp stove instead of an open fire, and always follow local fire regulations.
  • Minimizing waste: Bring reusable dishes and utensils, and pack out all trash.

Boating and Fishing

Montana’s rivers and lakes offer excellent boating and fishing opportunities. Here’s how to enjoy them responsibly:

  • Use non-motorized boats: Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards have a lower environmental impact than motorized boats.
  • Practice catch-and-release: Preserve fish populations by practicing catch-and-release fishing.
  • Follow local regulations: Adhere to fishing limits and guidelines to protect aquatic ecosystems.


Embarking on an eco-friendly wildlife tour in Montana is not just about exploring nature—it’s about forging a meaningful connection with the environment and contributing to its preservation. 

By choosing responsible tour operators, adopting sustainable practices, and respecting wildlife and their habitats, you can make a positive impact on the places you visit.

As stewards of the Earth, it’s our responsibility to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience the beauty and wonder of Montana’s wilderness. 

Whether you’re hiking through Glacier National Park, exploring Yellowstone’s geothermal wonders, or venturing into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, every action you take can make a difference.

Together, let’s embrace the principles of sustainability and conservation, leaving behind only footprints and taking with us memories that will last a lifetime. 

By traveling mindfully and respecting the natural world, we can preserve Montana’s wild heritage for generations to come.

Thank you for joining us on this journey toward a more sustainable future. Keep exploring, keep learning, and keep making a difference.

 Happy travels!


What are some eco-friendly wildlife tour options in Montana?

EcoTour Adventures in Grand Teton National Park offers 4-hour sunrise wildlife tours that allow you to observe animals like moose, elk, bison, wolves and bears from a safe distance. They have been 100% carbon neutral since 2008 and donate 2% of proceeds to local environmental non-profits.

The Yellowstone Safari Company gives 1% of tour revenue to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to help protect the lands, waters and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

How can I reduce my environmental impact while visiting Yellowstone National Park?

  • Use recycling bins placed throughout the park to divert waste from landfills
  • Recycle used bear spray canisters before leaving the park
  • Stay at LEED-certified hotels like Hotel Terra in Teton Village, Wyoming
  • Eat at restaurants that source food locally and sustainably
  • Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it at the park’s many water filling stations
  • Support the Yellowstone Forever Institute by booking a tour or buying souvenirs – proceeds go towards protecting wildlife and resources

What are some sustainable dining options in the Greater Yellowstone area?

  • Roadhouse Brewing in Jackson, Wyoming was named a “Best for the World” B Corp in 2021 for their environmental practices
  • Over 60% of food served in Yellowstone National Park is sourced locally or organically, including Montana lamb, grass-fed bison and locally distilled spirits
  • Vegan options like lentil dal and portobello wraps have the lowest carbon footprint

How can I minimize my carbon footprint when visiting the parks?

  • Visit in an electric vehicle and take advantage of charging stations in and around the parks
  • Opt for public transportation like the park’s semi-customized snow coaches that run cleaner and quieter than old models
  • Fly into Bozeman Airport and recycle your bear spray canister there before flying home

What are some ways the parks are working to be more sustainable?

  • Yellowstone National Park has a recycling program that diverts 63% of waste from landfills
  • New light fixtures in the park direct light downward to reduce light pollution and improve dark sky views
  • Yellowstone National Park Lodges sources over 60% of food locally and organically
  • The new Canyon Lodges in Yellowstone are LEED certified