Grab your camera, your hiking boots, and your sense of adventure as you and your group head out to some of the most beautiful and untouched pieces of wilderness across the United States. Each place holds an especially exceptional population of wildlife within its borders for extra outdoor fun. This is the perfect opportunity to get active, get into nature, and have tons of fun while doing it!
In today’s society not only is it important to visit and appreciate pristine places with diverse wildlife, but it is also important to understand the complexities of conservation and ecology in these places. It just so happens that each location on this list will make a great educational and hands-on opportunity to do just that!
- Glacier National Park - Montana
Mountain Goats, Brown Bats, Grizzly Bear, Mountain Goats, Elk
At Glacier National Park in Montana, you will be able to immerse yourself into the rocky, once-glacier-shaped peaks and lush green valleys of a gorgeous 1,583 square mile park chock-full of wildlife. There are over 700 miles of trails within the park to explore all the diverse animal populations. Glacier holds one of the largest grizzly bear populations in the lower 48, though you are probably much more likely to see mountain goats during your visit, as well as considerable populations of brown bats, elk, and ground squirrels. To guarantee a glance at one of the mountain-dwelling goats, head to Goat Lick Overlook!
- Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
Bison, Grizzly Bears, Moose, Wolves, Heron, Marmot, Elk, Deer
Yellowstone is a well-known playground for several different species of animals, most notably probably the many herds of bison as well as the largely-populated bighorn sheep. This is actually one of the few spots within the United States that you can still see free-roaming bison, truly quite the sight in person! You will also see fields of yellow wildflowers, endless gardens, geothermal spots, and even sections of rocky terrain while here, the entire park truly the perfect spot to study biology, snap some great photography, and get involved in the sport of animal tracking!
- Everglades National Park - Florida
Alligators, Crocodiles, Seaside Sparrow, Sea Turtle, Florida Panther
Down in the swamps of the Sunshine State, you will have the unique wildlife opportunity to view such animals as alligators, crocodiles, sea turtles, and tons of different birds that call the Anhinga Trail home. This unique landscape is 20 percent original everglade land and is sort of a "last chance" territory for many species, such as the cape sable sparrow and the population of around 50 native Florida panthers. If you are lucky, however, you may spot such common species as alligator or flamingo here or there!
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Tennessee, North Carolina
Black Bears, Salamanders, Groundhogs, Bats, Chipmunks
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in lush, green, and misty Tennessee is a true wonderland of animal diversity, one of our top choices for conservation and ecology education as well as photography and sightseeing. Within this park you will find one of the largest tracts of wilderness in the East, a critical sanctuary for over 65 mammals, 200 bird species, 67 fish, and most impressively perhaps over 80 reptiles, such as the hellbender salamander. This spot even boasts a high population of black bears (mostly within Cades Cove), sitting at 1,500, or about two per square mile!
- Acadia National Park - Maine
Red Squirrels, Deer, Moose, Beaver, Fox, Bobcat, Coyote
Welcome to Acadia, the massive national park in Maine that holds over 40 different species of mammals alone, not to mention the countless species of birds. This park is maybe most known for its beaver population, once extinct in this region then repopulated here in 1920. Native American remains on-site show evidence of extinct species such as sea mink, but today you will more than likely see such animals as deer, fox, black bear, bobcats, chipmunks, squirrels, and coyotes. Mount Desert Island is a great spot to see it all!
- Denali National Park - Alaska
Gold and Bald Eagles, Caribou, Grizzly Bear, Dall Sheep, Marmot, Grey Wolf
If you can make it to Denali National Park in Alaska, you definitely should as the entire park the very definition of true wilderness. Here you will find predators and prey living a more edgy lifestyle, the residents of the lush forest, cold tundra, glacier, rock, and snow-land constantly on the hunt for their next meal, a truly unique viewing, and learning opportunity. See Mt. Denali, the highest point in North America, alongside the diversity of wildlife including grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep, marmots, hares, fox, lynx, wolf, and moose. You definitely won’t want to forget your camera for this one!
- Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado
Coyotes, Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Mule, Deer, Moose
What Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is perhaps most well-known for is its dense population of coyotes, as well as their large and frequently spotted herds of elk. Within the confines of this park, you will see elk herds of around 3,000, as well as a herd of around 800 sheep, and various groupings of mule deer, moose, and white-tailed deer. There is a highly popular wildlife spotting trail that goes one mile along the Colorado River called the Coyote Valley Trail, a great way to guarantee some coyote sightings!
- Yosemite - California
Mule Deer, Pacific Frogs, Yosemite Toad, Bobcats, Fox
Within Yosemite National Park in California, you will be surrounded by a large diversity of wildlife, the entire park holding over 400 different species of vertebrates alone. See such animals as woodpeckers, squirrels, bobcats, or lizards, each step bringing new animal sighting opportunities. Animals here have made a home of the chaparral, conifer forests, and alpine rock, especially such location-specific species as the Sierra Nevada red fox and Yosemite mule deer. This is also a great location to hike, photograph, or take an impromptu hands-on lesson on California ecology and conservation.