America’s national parks offer breathtaking landscapes with a fascinating abundance of wildlife living right in the midst. There is nothing more exciting than visiting a national park and seeing wild animals in their natural habitat. The wilder the animal, the more exhilarating and memorable the experience.
Yellowstone National Park
While visiting in July, I had one of these unforgettable experiences at Yellowstone, which is known as the world’s first national park. This awe-inspiring park is located in northwestern Wyoming, as well as in Idaho and Montana. It is well-known for its wildlife and geysers. Shortly after going through the west entrance, we noticed bison meandering along the road. While these prehistoric-looking mammals are very rare, they are a common sight throughout the park.
Not far from there, in the fields between the west and the north entrance, we spotted majestic elk that were grazing and resting in the protective fields. Further along, we noticed many cars pulled over to the side of the road. When we got out to see what visitors were looking at, it was the most fascinating sight ever. There, between the north and the east entrance, a black bear was following a grizzly bear in a meadow along Hayden Valley.
Yellowstone is also home to wolves, lynx, moose, and other common smaller mammals. The road through makes a loop around the park. Plenty of wildlife can be spotted from the car, or outdoor enthusiasts can explore the many trails throughout the park. The park is open year-round with an entrance fee of $25 per car.
Denali National Park and Preserve
Denali National Park, located in central Alaska, is also known for its wildlife. It harbors the tallest mountain in North America, Mount McKinley. The park consists mostly of glaciers and forests, which are home to moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears.
The grizzly bears are most visible due to their increased activity from May to September. They are going to be found wherever their main food source is the most abundant at that time of year. Grizzly bears, the largest land mammal in North America, have been spotted along the one and only 92-mile road that runs throughout the park and in the backcountry, especially along the rivers when the salmon are running.
Sheep can be found along the park’s eastern and western ridges like Primrose Ridge. Caribou are mostly found east of the Foraker River and north of the Alaska range. Moose and wolves are seen throughout the park. The park is open year-round, and there is a $10 per person entrance fee along with additional fees for campgrounds, shuttle buses, and tour buses.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, located in northwestern Montana, is a nature lover’s paradise. It is made up of bountiful forests, majestic glaciers, glistening waterfalls, and pristine lakes. Moose are often spotted along the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, especially around Fishercap Lake and Bullhead Lake. Grizzly bears are prevalent in the Many Glacier vicinity along the surrounding hillsides and near Logan Pass. Mountain goats are abundant in the Logan Pass vicinity as well, especially along the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail and along the Garden Wall Overlook. Bighorn sheep are most often seen around Logan Pass. The park is open year-round. The entrance fee is charged by vehicle; $25 for the summer rate and $15 for the winter rate.
Katmai National Park and Preserve
Katmai National Park, located on the Alaska Peninsula, is famous for its volcanoes, waterways, wilderness, and coastline. It is heavily populated by brown bears because of the abundance of fish during the salmon runs. Brown bear sightings and sport fishing are extremely popular in this area.
The best viewing location for brown bear is at Brooks Camp when the salmon are running. The best months for spotting brown bear at Brooks Camp are towards the end of June through July, and the month of September. The bears can also be spotted along the coast in the areas of Hallo Bay in June and Geographic Harbor in August. As far as the lagoon goes, August is the best viewing time, where they have been spotted at Moraine Creek and Funnel Creek. Caribou are frequently spotted throughout the park while lynx and wolves are a rare sighting. The park is open year-round. There is no entrance fee but there are fees for camping.
Along with the opportunity for communing with wildlife in their natural habitat comes a deep respect for these amazing animals. While these national parks provide great sighting opportunities, it is important to remember to respect the animals’ territory and keep a safe distance from the wonderful experiences presented to us from the wild.