This is what it's like being in the middle of a Yellowstone bison jam (minus the smell)

Bison on road at Yellowstone National Park, seen through car window
(Image credit: Getty)

Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which usually calls out bad behavior at US National Parks, has shared a video of a visitor doing the smart thing and staying inside while a herd of bison move past. The animals are undisturbed, and the park visitors enjoy a spectacular view as they trot past.

Wildlife reign supreme at Yellowstone, and if the animals decide to take a stroll across the road, walk along it, or just stand right in the middle, there's nothing you can do except wait. That might sound frustrating, but it's actually a chance to get a great look at these magnificent animals from within the safety of your car.

Queues are unavoidable if animals are blocking traffic (they come with the territory), but some bison and bear jams are caused by people stopping in the middle of the road unnecessarily. The National Park Service (NPS) warns visitors to act sensibly when driving, and not hold up other road users.

"Never park in the road or block traffic," says the NPS. "Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam."

Be bison aware

The safest place to watch wildlife is from within your car, and when hiking you should stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison at all times. If you're not sure how far that is, Park Rangers suggest closing one eye, holding out your arm, and giving the bison a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide the animal behind your thumb, you should be fine.

Although they may seem calm at first, bison are wild animals and can be unpredictable. They can also move extremely fast. Last month, two women were gored by bison at US National Parks, both of whom required hospital treatment for severe abdominal injuries. Officials are investigating both incidents, but took the opportunity to remind visitors to respect wildlife.

"When an animal is near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space," said the NPS in a statement after the second incident. "If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in proximity."

For more tips, see our guides how to avoid being gored by a bison and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.