The United States is home to a diverse range of wildlife, from bald eagles and grizzly bears to alligators and manatees. This year, take advantage of the many excellent state parks for travellers seeking to see some of America’s wilder denizens. From Florida’s Everglades to Alaska’s Denali National Park, the following USA state parks and offerings are perfect for an up-close encounter with nature.
Best USA State Parks
California: Yosemite National Park
The wildlife viewing at Yosemite National Park is some of the best in the United States, with more than 400 species of animals and over 160 species of birds. Make sure to visit Glacier Point and Yosemite Valley — two popular spots well-known for spotting black bears, mule deer and coyotes. Before visiting Yosemite National Park, search online and find out how to avoid the crowds and stay safe around black bears.
Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is another great park for spotting American wildlife, including bison, elk and grizzly bears — but be careful if you encounter any! Visitors should always remain at least 100 yards from bears or wolves and at least 25 yards from all other large animals such as bison and elk. In the park, other fascinating creatures to look out for include coyotes, pronghorn, mule deer, moose, and mountain goats. For birders, you can find various species in the area, including eagles, hawks and owls.
Glacier National Park
This USA state park is located along Montana’s border with Canada. The park is home to various wildlife species including mountain goats, grizzly bears, hoary marmots and gray wolves. Visitors can also see wolverines and lynx if they’re lucky! In terms of birds, there are numerous species to spot in the area, including bald eagles and golden eagles.
Alaska: Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
With four active volcanoes and a major salmon stream, Lake Clark is home to a wide variety of Alaskan wildlife. If you’re interested in seeing bears, salmon, eagles and other animals that live in cold climates, Alaska is an obvious choice. This USA state park is an excellent place to see bears because they feed on the spawning salmon in Silver Salmon Creek. The park also offers opportunities to see wolves, caribou and moose.
Florida: Everglades National Park
The Everglades are home to many different kinds of birds and endangered species like the Florida panther, manatee and American crocodile. You may see alligators sunning themselves or a pod of dolphins swimming by when riding around on an airboat tour. Several guided tours are offered for those who want an expert’s opinion about the national park’s wildlife.
Arizona: Kartchner Caverns State Park
With 2.4 miles of caves discovered by two local cavers in 1974, Kartchner Caverns is home to numerous cave formations, including soda straws, cave bacon, flowstone and draperies (hanging soda straws). The caves also house several unique animals, including bats and cave beetles that have evolved to live underground.
California: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Located east of San Diego, this 600,000-acre desert park is home to more than 200 native animal species, including bighorn sheep, golden eagles, kit foxes and desert tortoises. Spring is the best time to visit Anza-Borrego when wildflowers are blooming everywhere.
Michigan: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park,
This USA state park is one of the last remnants of old-growth forest left in the Midwest. A rugged wilderness area along Lake Superior, it’s a popular destination for hikers, backpackers and wildlife photographers. Moose are often spotted here, along with white-tailed deer and black bear. Bird watching is also fantastic, with species like the gray jay, boreal chickadee, black-backed woodpecker and several types of warblers living here year-round.
Kentucky: Red River Gorge Geological Area
Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, this scenic 25,000-acre area is home to elk, river otters, fox and mule deer. The park also has an incredible array of plants and trees. The park explodes with wildflowers in spring, including bloodroot, blue cohosh, and butterfly weed.
The Final Word
Several parks offer backpacking, canoeing, and other outdoor recreational activities if you’re looking for adventure. If photography is more your style, many parks provide nature photography tours. No matter what you’re looking for in your next USA state park visit, there is bound to be one that you’ll fall in love with.