USA wildlife vacations guide

The fact that every USA state has a national animal says it all. Just to put it into perspective, in the UK, ours is a lion Ė a case of symbolism over substance, it would seem. In the USA, they are more in touch with real wildlife and, with their extensive national park system, prioritising its conservation. In California the state animal is the endangered grey whale. In Colorado it's the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and Nevada the Desert bighorn sheep. Alaska has the moose, Wyoming the bison and Montana the grizzly bear.
Itís miraculous enough watching all those salmon swimming upstream to spawn, taking one last final leap up a waterfall. But then the greedy grizzlies come out to feast upon them mid-flight. I couldnít tell if my tears were of grief or joy.
The USA's national animal is, of course, the bald eagle, which soars around large expanses of water such as Katmai National Park, Alaska, the Hudson River in New York State, mangrove swamps of Florida and the Grand Canyonís Colorado River. Which is more than can be said for lions in the UK. Read more in our Wildlife vacations in the USA travel guide.

Is this type of vacation for you?

Go ifÖ

...you are organised. Bear watching vacations, for example, book up well in advance. ...you want to get what USAís national parks system is all about: protecting wildlife. Öwolves, whales and wilderness are your thing. Öyou crave a USA that is free of theme parks and highways. There is so much more out there.

Donít go ifÖ

...you want to do a whistlestop wildlife tour. Good things come to those who wait.
...donít do extreme elements. USAís wild places get super hot and super cold.
Ö. you think national parks are like safari parks. They arenít. There are no fences, they are all about allowing wild animals to roam free. And donít even think about touching any of them.
Öyou want to drive everywhere. Hiking is the way to hone in on habitats.

Our top USA wildlife Vacation

Denali National Park holiday in Alaska

Denali National Park vacation in Alaska

Experience untouched wilderness off the beaten path

From US $2040 to US $2090 12 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 16 Jun, 7 Jul, 28 Jul, 18 Aug
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about USA wildlife or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Wildlife in America

The USAís prolific and pioneering national park system is inextricably linked with wildlife vacations, as the parks were fundamentally created to protect wildlife and their habitats. There are thousands of hiking trails, but they are carefully managed to allow habitats to grow and wildlife to thrive. Watch elk roam free in Rocky Mountain National Park, bison or elusive wolves in Yellowstone, grizzlies in Alaskaís Denali National Park and golden eagles soaring over the Grand Canyon. Wildlife isnít exclusive to national parks, however; you just get the most undisturbed viewing there. Head to Hawaii for extraordinary whale watching or Fort Myers in Florida for loggerhead turtles and manatees. Just an hour from Manhattan, you can see dolphins off Long Island and bears in the Catskills Mountains.
1. Alaska
2. Bears
3. Bison
4. Hawaii
5. Wolves
6. Yellowstone National Park
Alaska

1. Alaska

Alaska is way up there, and way out in terms of wildlife watching too. A land of extraordinary national parks including USAís largest, Wrangell St-Elias, take in tumultuous taiga and tundra with resident wildlife wonders such as orca and humpback whales, grizzly bears and wolves. Katmai National Park is a top spot for viewing Kodiak bears preying on migratory salmon heading upstream Ė if they can make it past the clambering claws.
Bears

2. Bears

Bears are surprisingly widespread across the USA, with Yellowstone National Park the top spot for viewing grizzly and brown bears out on fishing expeditions. The national parks of Alaska, with their tumultuous taiga and tundra, shelter Kodiak bears preying on migratory salmon Ė particularly in Katmai. Head to Yosemite, the Appalachians or the Rocky Mountains for black bears to be in awe of.
Bison

3. Bison

Once thundering across the plains in their millions, North Americaís largest land animal was reduced to just a few hundred individuals in the 1800s by hunters. Bison have had an impressive comeback though Ė and while many now live on farms, herds free roam in Yellowstone in large numbers. Massive males can weigh up to 900kg, with their humps up to six feet tall. Wobbly babies can be seen in April-mid June.
Hawaii

4. Hawaii

Humpback whales arenít stupid: they choose these tropical islands as their mating and birthing grounds. They perform their acrobatics in the wild between late Dec-May, sometimes directly off the Maui coastline. Other cetaceans to celebrate include dolphins, false killer whales and pilot whales, with boat trips for closer sightings. Alaska is another top spot for cetacean seekers, as is Californiaís Monterey from April-Dec.
Wolves

5. Wolves

Head to Yellowstone National Parkís Lamar Valley in winter for a magical wolf tracking experience, following their distinctive prints through the snow. Montanaís Glacier National Park protects a section of the Rocky Mountains in Montana where wolves roam free, and Alaskaís enormous Wrangell-St Elias National Par kĖ the largest national park in the USA Ė also has resident packs.
Yellowstone National Park

6. Yellowstone National Park

The mother of them all, Yellowstone was Americaís first national park. It's also where Mother Nature nurtures a plethora of wildlife. Although Yellowstone is famous worldwide, it is not as packed with visitors as you might think, as itís harder to access. So, take in the bison masterfully marauding the plains, grizzlies or brown bears fishing by the creeks, or go wolf tracking in winter in the Lamar Valley.
Written by Catherine Mack
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