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Top 10 Wildlife Species to Add to Your US National Park Bucket List

Bison
Bison. Image via Unsplash

These are the top 10 must-see animals in America’s national parks. Which animals have you seen?

1. American Bison

Bison
Adult female American bison and 1 week- and 1 month-old calves at the Prioksko-terrasny biosphere reserve, Russia. Image by oksanavg via Depositphotos
  • Parks: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park
  • Description: The iconic symbol of the American West, these massive herbivores roam freely in several national parks. Yellowstone boasts the largest population.

2. Grizzly Bear

grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear in Banff. Image by jill@ghostbear.org via Depositphotos
  • Parks: Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Denali National Park
  • Description: These powerful predators are best observed from a safe distance. Spring and summer are prime viewing times as they forage for food.

3. Bald Eagle

Bald eagle
Bald eagles build some of the largest nests of any bird species, often reaching up to 10 feet in diameter and weighing hundreds of pounds. Image by Andreas Barth via Pexels
  • Parks: Olympic National Park, Denali National Park, Everglades National Park
  • Description: The national bird of the United States, bald eagles are commonly seen near large bodies of water where they hunt for fish.

4. Gray Wolf

mexican gray wolf
Mexican gray wolfImage by donfink via Depositphotos
  • Parks: Yellowstone National Park, Denali National Park, Isle Royale National Park
  • Description: Reintroduced to Yellowstone in the 1990s, gray wolves have become a success story in wildlife conservation. They are often seen in packs.

5. Elk

Juvenile Elk
Juvenile male tule elk near Tomales Point, Point Reyes National Seashore, California. Image viaFrank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park
  • Description: These large deer are commonly found grazing in meadows and valleys. Fall is the best time to hear their distinctive bugling calls during mating season.

6. Alligator

Alligator
American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) photographed in Chambers Co., Texas, USA. Image via Wilafa, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Parks: Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Description: American alligators are a quintessential part of the Everglades ecosystem. They can be spotted basking in the sun or swimming in the park’s waterways.

7. Peregrine Falcon

Falco in spain
Captive peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in the Community of Madrid, Spain. Image via Carlos Delgado, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Parks: Grand Canyon National Park, Acadia National Park, Zion National Park
  • Description: Known for their incredible speed, peregrine falcons can be seen nesting on cliff faces and hunting for birds in mid-air.

8. Mountain Lion

mountain lion on grass
A mountain lion. Image via depositphotos.
  • Parks: Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park
  • Description: These elusive predators are rarely seen, but signs of their presence, such as tracks and scat, can be found in several parks.

9. Moose

Moose
Moose in Tierpark Oberwald (Karlsruhe, Germany). Image via MartinThoma, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Parks: Denali National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Isle Royale National Park
  • Description: The largest members of the deer family, moose often gather near water sources. They are particularly active during the early morning and late afternoon.

10. Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn sheep. Image via depositphotos.
  • Parks: Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
  • Description: Adapted to arid environments. These sheep skillfully climb and people often spot them on rocky cliffs and steep terrain.

Conclusion

Rocky Mountain Elk
Elk. Image by Byron Johnson via Unsplash

These wildlife species show the diverse natural heritage protected within America’s national parks, making each visit an adventure in itself! Which animals have you seen?

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