7 Wonderful Destinations for Viewing Wildlife in the U.S.
The U.S. is home to more than 3,000 native species of vertebrate animals, according to NatureServe, an online database of biological statistics. Given a nation as sprawling and a climate as varied as ours, it’s no surprise that American terrain provides habitats for an enormously diverse cross-section of wildlife. Seeing some of these creatures for yourself is as easy as visiting the local park — or even just walking outside your home.
For the very best wildlife viewing experiences in the country, try visiting any of these 7 destinations.
Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming)
Spanning 3,472 square miles through Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park is home to 67 types of mammals. According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone provides a habitat for animals such as elk, grizzly bears, black bears, gray wolves, coyotes, wolverines, mountain lions, and bison — the largest land mammal in the United States, according to NBC News. The park also provides a habitat for the majestic bald eagle, America’s official national animal.
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles of space offer great diversity in their large mammal population, making the site a top wildlife viewing destination. The National Park Service reports that this site provides habitats for around 60 species of mammals, 280 species of birds, six varieties of amphibians, one reptile species, 11 species of fish, and innumerable types of insects and butterflies. The park’s 3 million annual guests seek out elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and moose during their visit.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)
Due to its geographic isolation, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most biologically unique and fascinating wilderness areas not only in the country but in the world. This park rests on the southeastern border of the island of Hawaii. The flora and fauna in this natural space began evolving more than 70 million years ago, writes the National Park Service, and over 90 percent of these species are found only on the Hawaiian islands. Only here can you witness the isles’ wide variety of native songbirds, along with endangered sea turtles, bats, feral pigs, and the largest dragonfly in the United States.
Everglades National Park (Florida)
The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness area in the continental United States, consisting of nearly 2,400 square miles of wetlands, writes the National Park Service. The park is best known for its alligators and crocodiles — famously, this region is the only place in the world where these two species coexist. Visitors can (with caution) walk among these creatures or simply delight in viewing the park’s 40-plus species of mammals and 350 species of birds. Among these are bobcats and wading birds such as ibises, wood storks, and egrets.
Denali National Park (Alaska)
In addition to containing the nation’s highest point, Mount McKinley, Denali National Park offers one of the greatest opportunities for viewing bald and golden eagles. Alaska alone contains more bald eagles than the other 49 states combined, and golden eagles outnumber balds by about 70 percent, writes NBC News. The diverse array of wildlife in Denali includes 39 recorded species of mammals, 169 species of birds, 14 species of fish, and one species of amphibian, according to the National Park Service.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park (North Carolina, Tennessee)
This park’s 800 square miles of mountainous terrain constitute America’s largest federally protected upland landmass east of the Mississippi River, reports National Geographic. The park’s temperate climate makes it a hotspot for biological diversity: According to the National Park Service, more than 17,000 species have been documented within the Great Smoky Mountains, and scientists believe that 30,000 to 80,000 undocumented species may inhabit the land, as well.
Acadia National Park (Maine)
This national park sits along the coast of Maine, spanning approximately 65 square miles, writes Britannica. The park boasts a unique array of both aquatic and arboreal wildlife, containing 2,500 species of plants and animals. Acadia is a particular favorite for birdwatchers, who travel from far and wide to view the park’s 338 recorded species of birds like peregrine falcons, bald eagles, herons, and many varieties of seabird, according to Travel + Leisure.