I’ve only been to 20 of the 59 National Parks in the U.S. so far. I doubt I’ll ever make it to all of them, but I would definitely like to add another ten or fifteen parks to my list. Anyway, while I haven’t been to all of the parks, I have been to enough parks to make totally subjective lists about which parks are best for certain things. In this blog post I’m going to list the parks I’ve been to that I think are best for seeing wildlife. I’m talking bigtime wildlife, or megafauna. That’s the kind of wildlife that draws tourists to a park specifically for the chance to see them. I’ve been to a lot of parks where I didn’t see any wildlife, and I’ve been to a few that have been very impressive in the wildlife department. Here’s my top three:
- Yellowstone National Park; Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. In my opinion, you have to start with Yellowstone if you’re talking about wildlife. There are so many fantastic types of wildlife to see it’s like you’re visiting a zoo. It’s truly amazing. There are elk, mule deer, moose, bison, pronghorn, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. There are black bears and grizzly bears. Then there are the hard-to-find big cats; the lynx and mountain lion. Other impressive, but hard-to-spot animals include the gray wolf and wolverine. There are plenty of other types of wildlife, including foxes, river otters, and eagles. I’ve seen grizzlies, bison, elk, deer, and bighorn sheep in the park.
- Glacier National Park, Montana. Glacier would have to be next on my list. Just like Yellowstone it is home to an impressive assortment of large wildlife. I’ve seen grizzly bears, rams, moose, deer, and lots of mountain goats. Several of Yellowstone’s hard-to-find animals are also present in Glacier, but they can be equally hard to spot there. Among them are the gray wolf, bobcat, wolverine, lynx, and mountain lion. In my experience the Grinnell Valley and Logan Pass have been full of wildlife. I’ve seen multiple mammals each time I visited each of those parts of the park.
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. The third and final park I’m going to list is Grand Teton. Coincidentally, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier are probably my three favorite National Parks. I guess that shows how much I like to spot bigtime wildlife in their natural environment (although the three parks are also home to absolutely stunning landscapes). I haven’t seen quite as much wildlife in the Tetons as I have in Yellowstone and Glacier, but I’m still very pleased with what I was able to find there. I have seen elk, bison, several moose, and a black bear cub near the shore of Jenny Lake. Grand Teton is definitely the park to visit if you want to spot moose (at least based on my time there).
So, that’s it for my list. I would give honorable mention to Yosemite, where I saw a rattlesnake, marmot, and black bear. Otherwise, I haven’t had too much luck as far as wildlife viewing goes in the National Parks (outside of the parks listed above). Denali National Park in Alaska is probably at the top of my list of National Parks I’d most like to visit and from what I hear that is among the best when it comes to spotting wildlife.
Can you recommend any other parks for great wildlife viewing?