Where to Find Wildlife Viewing in Vermont

Posted December 10, 2022

It’s easy to see wildlife in Vermont. If you’re up early and keep an eye out, you might even spy some of these animals venturing out on the slopes.

A scenic view of Okemo

You may have seen their tracks in the snow below while riding up a chairlift on one of Vermont’s ski mountains. Or caught a glimpse of movement in the woods to the side of the ski trail. While much of Vermont’s wildlife is hidden from sight in the winter months – either hibernating or finding refuge from deep snows at lower elevation—there are a number of critters that you can still spy from the winter slopes. And spotting and identifying tracks in the snow is always a fun family pastime. Wildlife viewing in Vermont is an unforgettable experience, so keep your eye out for these awe-inspiring creatures.

Best Places for Wildlife Viewing in Vermont’s Green Mountains

While you can see animal life just about anywhere, backcountry skiing or snowshoeing into the Coolidge State Forest or Green Mountain National Forest might be the best chance.

Okemo’s location in the heart of the Green Mountains with vast swaths of unbroken forest surrounding it, makes it an idea place to spy some of Vermont’s wildlife that’s active in the winter and early spring.

Okemo Wildlife Corridor:

In September of 2020, the Vermont Land Trust, the State of Vermont and the Mount Holly Conservation Trust protected a critical piece of wildlife habitat: the Okemo Wildlife Corridor. The Okemo Wildlife Corridor is a 346-acre property right in Okemo Resort’s backyard that connects the Okemo State Forest to the vast Green Mountain National Forest to the south. This helped to create a critical link in a 100-mile wildlife corridor, providing a bridge to the Coolidge State Forest to the north and the northern Green Mountain National Forest.

Long Trail:

The Green Mountain National Forest houses part of the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail, which is known for wildlife viewing. On the drive from Okemo Resort to the trail, you’ll pass through plenty of forest land and may even see some wildlife through your window.

Okemo’s Ski Lifts:

Okemo Resort is right on the edge of the Okemo Wildlife Corridor. While riding the lift, take a look down at the snowy landscape below. Chances are high you’ll see more than just ski tracks. Study the tracks for some of the animals mentioned here and see if you spot any. And if you wake up early enough to get first tracks, you may even see some four-legged creatures exploring your untracked terrain.

Vermont Wildlife Educational Opportunities

If you want to learn more about Vermont’s wild creatures, visit the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences in Quechee, about a 40-minute drive from Okemo. VINS has a natural history collection of more than 250 birds and mammals, the largest in the state, and 600 mounted specimens, many in dioramas. The Southern Vermont Natural History Museum in West Marlboro is another good place to learn about Vermont’s wildlife.

Here are some of the animals you might encounter at Vermont’s ski mountains or adjacent forests. Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect wildlife — keep a safe distance and never approach wild animals.

Common Animals in the Green Mountains

Snowshoe Hare:

Those big prints in the snow? The snowshoe hare’s large rear footprints are unmistakable, and you may see them all over the mountain on a morning when there’s fresh powder. The back feet act like snowshoes, allowing the rabbit to travel through deep drifts. In the winter, their fur turns white making it very difficult to spy them in the snow, especially as they tend to hide in dense conifers during the day and stay at altitude.


If you are skiing in the woods and there’s a sudden explosion from the snow in front of you, chances are you have flushed a ruffed grouse. The football-sized birds tend to spend much of the winter buried in snow, often near tree trunks in deciduous forests.

Moose in Vermont:

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that there are around 3,000 moose roaming Vermont, primarily along the spine of the Green Mountains, from Massachusetts to Canada. The Long Trail/Appalachian Trail through the Green Mountains provides great hiking with incredible scenery – and sometimes wildlife viewing.

Moose is actually the Algonquin term for “eater of twigs” and during springtime you can sometimes spy the huge animals chewing on branches or stripping the bark from ash and maples. Bull moose can weigh up to 1,500 lbs and cows can sometimes be protective of their calves so it is best to keep your distance should you see them.

Black Bear:

The Green Mountains of Vermont are critical black bear habitat. For most of the winter, Vermont’s black bear population is hibernating. But come spring when the sun starts to warm the slopes you might see them emerging from their dens, cavorting on the slopes or peering at you from a tree branch. The smallest of all the bear species, black bear are usually harmless and shy creatures though they are fond of garbage and will break into places they can smell food.

The Green Mountain Club has a bear canister lending program for those hiking the Green Mountain or Long Trail areas. You also may see bear-safe trash receptacles at homes and businesses around town.

Eastern Bobcat:

If you see cat-like tracks on the slopes, they most likely belong to an Eastern bobcat, notable for its bobbed tail and tufted ears. These nocturnal animals like to live on forest edges – particularly coniferous forests – and open slopes provide good hunting grounds for the mice, chipmunks and snowshoe hares they prey open. An even more rare sighting is a Canadian lynx, which is nearly extinct in Vermont and on the Endangered Species list. While each year a few Vermonters claim to see a mountain lion or catamount, there has been no documented proof of one in the state since the 1880s.


An elusive creature that’s related to weasels and wolverines, the fisher is rarely seen but often present in Vermont’s hardwood forests. With large paws, a fluffy tail but a weasel-like body, they are odd little creatures and one of the few animals that can prey on porcupines. A litter of fisher kits (usually one to four) is typically born in March and breeding season is March and April when you may see the creatures out in search of a mate.


Nocturnal by nature, porcupines spend much of their time in trees and that’s where you may spy one as you ride up on a chairlift at a Vermont ski mountain. In the winter, porcupine munch on bark and needles. They are generally shy and harmless.

Eastern Coyote:

According to the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Eastern coyotes you might find in Vermont are larger than their Western relatives, due to crossbreeding with Canadian wolves. The state of Vermont estimates there are between 4,500 and 8,000 animals living in the state and in a study in the Champlain Valley found that the animals prefer hardwood and softwood forests in the winter and open areas in the summer and fall.

Always remember to keep your distance from any wild animal and never provoke it, try to feed it or approach it for a photograph.

Produced in partnership with Vermont Ski + Ride Magazine.