If one of your main objectives while on vacation is to view wildlife, here are some of the top National Parks to consider visiting, along with the types of wildlife you are most likely to see there:
Glacier National Park, Montana. Best for: Grizzlies, mountain goats, elk, and deer. Unless you’re ready to get up close and personal with one or more of the resident grizzlies, don’t come to Glacier National Park. And though not likely, be prepared for encounters with wolves, mountain lions, and mountain goats. For the most wildlife encounters, do something that visitors usually don’t: Get out of the car and take a hike! More than 730 miles of hiking trails offer opportunities to see animals in the wild. Paddle the North and Middle Forks of Flathead into the heart of the wilderness where you’re likely to see mountain goats from the water.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Best for: Elk, wolves, bison, and deer. Yellowstone is home to more than 30,000 elk, 3,000 bison, 2,000 mule deer, and hundreds of grizzlies, moose, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope. The park is home once again to gray wolves, who were absent for more than 60 years due to extermination by park rangers, but are now considered a valuable component of the ecosystem. Get up early and head to the Lamar Valley, where elk herds graze under the watchful eyes of the wolf packs who prey on them.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Best for: Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, and marmots. Bighorns are well suited for the steep and rugged environment of the Rockies. In the summer they spend a lot of time around the Sheep Lakes. There is a special Bighorn Crossing Zone on Highway 34. Hike the Milner Pass trail to the edge of the Crater, where you’ll find them in their Alpine setting. The curious Rocky Mountain marmot and coyotes can be found in the park’s forests, large, open meadows, and Alpine tundra. Best seen at dawn or in the late evening are the park’s more elusive animals: mountain lions, bobcats, and elk.
Everglades National Park, Florida. Best for: Alligators, crocodiles, manatees, turtles. The last remaining everglades in the world, this park is truly a unique environment. Almost completely submerged beneath water; even deer and bobcats have adapted to the semi-aquatic environment and can be seen wading in the water foraging for dinner. You can boat or paddle the waterways where you’re likely to see alligators, deer, herons, and numerous turtles. Try the half-mile long Anhinga Trail, where saltwater meets fresh. You’ll find a staggering variety of fauna. You can bike the 15-mile, paved Shark Valley Tram Road, where you’ll see alligators, deer, herons, and turtles.
Whichever park you choose, encounters with animals in the wild are bound to be a thrill. You will be entranced with their beauty and grace, and their ability to survive, against all odds, in the modern world. Tracks and Trails offers trips to all of these National Parks – the wildlife awaits!