Best Places in the USA for Wildlife Watching

It’s no secret that the United States is a wild place. There may be plenty of historic towns and sprawling metropolises, but most of the nation is still wilderness. Whether it’s rugged mountains, pristine forests or vast deserts, it’s quite easy to escape the city stress and rekindle your affinity with nature. Wild animals also find refuge in these rugged regions and in this post, we’ll feature a handful of the best places for wildlife watching in the USA.

Best Places for Wildlife Watching in the USA

From the Appalachian Mountains to the Florida swamps, Californian islands and Alaskan wilderness, the USA has countless places where wildlife thrives. And the beauty of all this is that the variety of animals you might encounter is immense. When visiting these places in the USA for wildlife watching, you can almost be certain to spot iconic wildlife such as buffalo, grizzly and black bears, dolphins and alligators.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park - National Parks to Visit in Winter
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

The oldest national park in the world, Yellowstone National Park is one of North America’s finest wildlife watching destinations. Home to essentially all major megafauna species, this is where you can (relatively easily) spot wolves, moose, elk, black bears and American bison. Especially the huge herds of bison that live in the park are a major drawcard, alongside, of course, the famous geysers and multi-colored hot springs.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands National Park
Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands National Park

Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands are an overseas territory of the United States. If you’re after a tropical holiday but don’t want to technically leave the country, there’s no better place to go. Lined with sand beaches and surrounded by crystal-clear water and wildlife-rich coral reefs, this is also one of the world’s best destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling. Put on a pair of flippers and a mask and explore the amazing underwater world. There are more than 300 fish species!

Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia and North Carolina

Black bear in Shenandoah National Park
Black bear in Shenandoah

A subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains are home to an incredible biodiversity. These lush, rolling, forested mountains provide a home to numerous animals, from black bears and deer to foxes, bobcats, skunks, raccoons and possums. This is also where you’ll find not just one, but three national parks—Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which are linked by the phenomenal Blue Ridge Parkway.

Denali National Park, Alaska

Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska - Best Places for Wildlife Watching in the USA
Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska

Comprising no fewer than six million acres in central Alaska, Denali National Park is the epitome of wilderness in the United States. With its various landscapes, from taiga forests to glaciers and valleys, it is home to huge numbers of wildlife. This is one of the best places for wildlife watching in the USA. This is especially true if you want to spot grizzly bears, moose, wolves and caribou. Join a guided ranger tour, head out for a wilderness trek yourself or go mountain biking. In winter, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are popular things to do, as well as Northern Lights watching.

Channel Islands, California

Humpback whale, Channel Islands National Park, California
Humpback whale, Channel Islands National Park, CA

One of the most biodiverse places on the planet, the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara are home to huge numbers of marine animals, as well as a few endemic land mammals. You can only get to this archipelago by boat from Ventura; an excursion that’s almost certain to result in dolphin and whale sightings. Among the marine life that is often spotted here are humpback whales, California sea lions, harbor seals and gray whales.

Everglades, Florida

Alligators in Everglades National Park, Florida, Best Places for Wildlife Watching in the USA
Alligators in Everglades National Park, Florida

The largest tropical wilderness in the United States and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Everglades National Park is one of the best places for wildlife watching in the USA—if not the world. This unique system of wetlands, woods and rivers provides a habitat for all kinds of animals. These include the iconic alligators but also vast numbers of birds, several mammals and about 300 species of fish. Go for a boardwalk hike, explore on your own in a kayak or join an airboat tour.

Have you ever been to any of these best places for wildlife watching in the USA? Share your experiences in the comments below!

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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