The Four Best National Parks for Wildlife Watching

The Four Best National Parks for Wildlife Watching
Encountering a wild animal in its natural environment can create the most memorable moment of a national park vacation. Make the most of your wildlife viewing experience by following all park rules and guidelines for observing wildlife, both for your own safety and that of the animals. Keep your distance, don't feed the animals, stay quiet, and move slowly. Always respect the animals you're watching--if they respond to your presence, you're too close.


America's first national park is in the northwest corner of Wyoming, with small portions in Idaho and Montana as well. With more than 60 species of mammals in the park, Yellowstone abounds with wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors frequently see bison, elk, black bears, deer, river otters, moose and porcupines. Less frequently seen animals include wolves, cougars, grizzly bears and foxes. Yellowstone also has more than 300 species of birds, including bald eagles.

Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190


Famed for its dramatic cascading waterfalls and sheer granite crags, California's Yosemite National Park provides the wildlife watcher with 1,200 square miles of varied terrain to explore. Diverse ecosystems within the park's boundaries allow for its wide range of animal life. Yosemite's 90 mammal species include bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes and 17 species of bats. The park also has more than 250 species of birds, including the California spotted owl.

Yosemite National Park
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Rocky Mountain

Home to Colorado's famed Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park offers tremendous wildlife watching opportunities. In fact, the park's three million annual visitors consistently rank wildlife viewing as the park's No. 1 attraction. Common wildlife sightings include elk, mule deer, moose, otters and bighorn sheep, as well as numerous smaller mammals. The park has some 60 mammal species in total, along with 280 species of birds and an eye-opening 139 species of butterflies.

Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517

Wrangell-St. Elias

The United States' biggest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, is on the southeastern edge of Alaska and holds within its vast borders more glaciers packed together than any other area on the continent, along with a wildlife-watching Mecca. In this park, you can see not only bison, wolves, moose, black bears, grizzlies, coyotes and otters but also caribou, harbor seals, Dall sheep, sea lions, whales and porpoises, as well as other mammals.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway
PO Box 439
Copper Center, AK 99573

Article Written By Alli Rainey

A professional writer since 1997, Harvard graduate Alli Rainey has written several books, including "Wyoming: An Explorer's Guide." Her articles have appeared in "Climbing Magazine," "Rock & Ice," and "Men's Fitness," among many others.

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