Top Places to View Wildlife in the U.S.
From phones and laptops to smart televisions, the constant connectivity starts to become overwhelming. Luckily, the easiest way to break the cycle is to unplug, head outdoors, and witness Mother Nature in all her glory. If you’re ready to immerse yourself in nature, take your next trip to one of these great places to view wildlife.
Yellowstone National Park
Not only is Yellowstone National Park the oldest federal park in the country but it’s also one of the most beloved. The Wyoming sanctuary’s 2.2 million acres are packed with native and migratory species, making it impossible to visit the site and not see animals roaming or flying around. The extensive list of species at the park includes:
Badgers | Bats | Bighorn sheep | Bison | Black bears | Bobcats | Chipmunks | Cougars | Elk | Gray wolves | Lynx | Mountain goats | Mule deer | River otters
There are also nearly 700 grizzly bears on-site as well as 150 bird species, including the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon.
Different areas of the park attract certain species. Lamar Valley offers the greatest variety with just about everything from wolves to bison. The biggest predators are sighted often at Hayden Valley while the grazers, like mule deer, are easy to spot at Mammoth Hot Springs. For moose, the West Thumb and North and South entrances are your best bets.
Denali National Park & Preserve
Composed of six million acres, Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska is without a doubt one of the top places to view wildlife in the U.S. The park offers nearly every type of terrain, from snow-capped mountains and forests to wide-open tundra. As such, the area is home to an impressive selection of larger-than-life animals, including moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears. There are also smaller species that are just as eye-catching, like arctic ground squirrels, wolverines, and snowshoe hares.
Catching a glimpse of wildlife is a breeze in Denali National Park. In fact, you’re likely to see caribou within the first few miles of entering the park. They also congregate around water — as do grizzly bears, so the Savage and Teklanika rivers are excellent viewing spots. Dall sheep, on the other hand, prefer the mountainside, so you may need to leave the main trail and hike Mount Margaret or Mount Wright to find them.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park offers one of the most unique experiences for viewing wildlife in the U.S. Covering 1.5 million acres in southern Florida, the area offers a mixture of forests and wetlands that provide a safe haven for a massive amount of tropical animal species — many of which are on the endangered species list or considered threatened. This includes the American crocodile, the rare Florida panther, and more than 350 bird species.
There are a variety of ways to explore the park. Guided tours are one of the easiest options to catch glimpses of wildlife. The park offers ranger-guided tours daily, and there are also land and water tours available through local outlets. If you prefer to trek it alone, Shark Valley and Eco Pond are two excellent spots to catch reptiles and freshwater species. For birding, grab a canoe rental and head to Nine Mile Pond.
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Located near Juneau, AK, it’s virtually impossible for Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve to disappoint nature enthusiasts. From bears to sea lions, it offers one of the most diverse ranges of wildlife species in the world. Along with the animals, the landscape offers spectacular views on its own.
You can explore the park on land, by foot, or over water using a chartered boat, canoe, or kayak. In the bay, you’re likely to catch glimpses of sea otters, seals, dolphins, orcas, and whales with towering glaciers glistening in the background. On land, wolves, moose, foxes, deer, and both brown and black bears are abundant in the park. There is also an incredible variety of birds — 281 species to be exact, with the highest density being present during the summer months.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Spanning over 522,000 acres in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most beautiful locations to view wildlife in the U.S. The heavily-wooded, rolling landscape attracts a variety of species, including wild turkeys, woodchucks, white-tailed deer, and elk. There are also around 1,500 black bears living in the park. With such a high density, you’re likely to see one on your adventure, so be sure to stay aware, bring bear mace, and avoid getting closer than 150 feet to one.
The Smoky Mountains are densely covered with trees and shrubs. While the scenery is breathtaking, it’s not always easy to spot wildlife out in the open. For the best viewing opportunity, head to one of the open landmarks in the park, like Cades Cove. You may also have a better chance of exploring early in the morning when many of the species are active.
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