Where to see wildlife in the US

Have you ever wondered where to see wildlife in the US?


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A trip to some of the most wildlife- rich states of the United states will gurantee serendipitous encounters of a lifetime. An unmistakable vastness of biodiversity…

tour

With the sheer size of the United States has a great influence on the display of biodiversity across its varying landscapes.  It is home to multiple different ecoregions and has far too much variety in flora and fauna to cover sufficiently here.  With that said there are some recognisable and interesting species that make up an important part of the wildlife. 

There exists over 800 species of bird, some seasonal and some permanent populations, including the national icon, the bald eagle, American dippers and robins, brown pelicans and sandhill cranes and a range of falcons and owls.  There are more than 400 mammal species, ranging from large carnivores like grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves to beavers and squirrels, armadillos and bats and marine mammals like blue whales, spinner dolphins, orcas and porpoises. 

Where to see wildlife in the US:alaska

Reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate species are also found in abundance across the various terrains from rattlesnakes, snapping turtles and alligators to spotted salamanders and tree frogs to bull sharks, flying fish and rainbow trout right through to many both common and unique insects like giant Darner dragonflies, fireflies, tarantulas and sea-cucumbers.

Where to see wildlife in the US -map of usa

From North to Southern USA, we take you from the arctic tundra to the arid desert land and rolling coasts, swamps and mountain ranges of the greatest nature destinations in North American, USA.

Interested to read on further where to see wildlife in the US? Or jump to your favorite headline?

Alaska

New York

Wyoming

Colorado

California

Florida

Hawaii

Summary

Alaska: Where to see wildlife in the US

Many visitors venture to Alaska to see the jaw-dropping scenery of unspoiled nature, majestic mountains, glaciers, fjords, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and the National Parks.

If you want to see wildlife, Alaska should most certainly be a priority on your ‘to see’ list. Bald eagles gather by the hundreds, moose cause traffic jams and millions of salmon spawn in its rivers. Take a guided tour through a national park or wildlife refuge to see moose and caribou or a boat tour to see otters, whales and porpoises. No matter the destination in Alaska, one may encounter varieties of expansive wildlife.

Animals you may expect to encounter

Bears

There are four different types of Alaska bear. The Brown bear (grizzly), Polar bearBlack bear, and the Glacier bear. There are a number of Alaska bear viewing opportunities available to visitors. Denali National Park is one of the most popular areas in Alaska to view bears in their natural habitat.

Where to see wildlife in the US bears

Caribou, Moose, Mountain Goat, Sheep & Bison

moose/ caribou

Caribou in Alaska are distributed in 32 herds or populations and about 175,000 to 200,000 moose are widely distributed throughout Alaska. Mountain goats are estimated at 3,600 to 4,600 mountain which occupy the Kenai Peninsula. Dall Sheep inhabit the mountain ranges of Alaska and bison are a common sighting in many of the northern american states, but are especially the Delta River area in Alaska’s Interior.

Wolves & Arctic Fox

Alaska is home to an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. The wolf can be found throughout mainland Alaska.

spoor
Traces of the wolf in the snow, icy

Arctic foxes migrate from their fall breeding grounds and travel to coastal areas. The arctic fox is found in treeless coastal areas of Alaska from the Aleutian Islands north to Point Barrow and east to the Canada border. 

Orcas & Whales

whales
Whale in the ocean with scenic alaskan landscape and mountains

Killer whales can be seen in southeast Alaska between early May and early June with whales more sporadically spotted in June through September. They can be seen in the waters of Resurrection Bay, near Seward, as well as throughout Southeast Alaska, with the largest abundance found near Juneau and Ketchikan.

Salmon, beavers and otters

salmon run Where to see wildlife in the US
Salmon, Alaska

Huge salmon runs return to Anchorage area rivers and streams each summer. This is where you may encounter 5 species of Alaska salmon and Sea otters are seen from the Aleutian Islands, across the Kenai Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska

Birds: Owls, Falcons, eagles and Puffins

puffin

Hundreds of bird speciess inhabit Alaska, especially in coastal regions. With nearly 500 species of birds documented in Alaska, it is a bird lover’s paradise to visit.

National Parks & operators

With 17 national park units and 16 national wildlife refuges, the options may seem limitless.

Alaska Wildlife Guide for incredible and tailored tours from the arctic circle to the intricacies of Alaskan culture and heritage. Specializing in Summer, Winter and Northern Lights tours!

Adventure Kodiak bear tours and cruises offer unique access to nature enthusiasts and animal ( especially bear) lovers.

Seaward wildlife tours offer encounters with the many marine animals that visit alaska on migration each year. From whales to Orcas, birds and beautiful landscapes from the ocean perspective. Small and personalized tours.

Alaska Wildlife Adventures provides excitement to foreigners who fall in love with Alaska through mountainous adventures and more!

Alaska wildlife Conservation Center: Visit orphaned and rehabilitated wildlife close up and personal, and by doing so contributing to the conservation and protection of other animals.

tourists Where to see wildlife in the US

New York: Where to see wildlife in the US

New York and New York City itself is one of the most popular destinations for tourists and the hub of many economic and foreign interests around the world. New York is hardly a place where one would expect to find wildlife. What people often misconceive about New York is that it goes beyond the massive city and that infamous skyline… It leads to more nature the further inland you go and it can be deceivingly dense in wildlife- even in that big city!

new york
New York City, NYC, USA

Coyotes

The coyote has been present in New York state at least since 1920. Coyotes have been reported to live in New York City for the last 30 years, but only one is reportedly known to live in Central Park.Coyotes, commonly believed to live only in the more rural or wild parts of New York, readily adapt to living close to people. Coyotes live throughout Upstate New York and commonly inhabit many suburban and urban areas. Occasionally, they are sighted in parts of New York City and Long Island( very rarely).

coyote

Dolphins & Seals

Bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, pilot whales, and Risso’s dolphins can often be seen off the south shore of Long Island. Sightings of bottlenose dolphins are the most common since they live closer to shore in coastal waters like harbors and bays.

playing Dolphins

Seals are found on the shores of New York! Seals are found in New York from late fall until late spring, with the highest concentration generally occurring around April. Seals leave the water to rest on sandy beaches or rocks and this is to regulate their body temperature, socialize, give birth, and molt. Hauling out in groups also helps seals avoid predators. Up to five species can be seen locally, but harbor, gray, and harp seals are the most common.

swim with seals

Raccoons

In fact, raccoons “live in all five boroughs of New York City. They can easily adapt to live wherever food and shelter are available.” Despite their reputation as suburban residents, the city actually provides them with everything they need.

raccoons in New york

Raccoons can become a nuisance if people unknowingly supply food or shelter for them. They can be attracted by food available in gardens, fish ponds, pet feeders, or garbage or by cavities that might offer shelter.

Black Bear

Wildlife of the USA: Black bears can be found on almost all of the mountain ranges in the Catskill Mountains. The Catskill Mountains have the highest density population of Black Bears in New York State. The north side of the Kaaterskill Mountain Range (around 1800-3,300′) has the highest density population in the Catskill Mountains.

black
Animals in the wild.

Moose

In New York, most moose are located in the northeastern part of the state in the Adirondack Mountains and the Taconic Highlands along the Massachusetts and Vermont borders. Moose are primarily browsers, feeding on the leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs.

moose wild

Ideal moose habitat consists of a mosaic of upland mature mixed forest, open areas created by burns or logging, and wetlands. 

Wyoming: Where to see wildlife in the US

Wyoming is one of the most stunning states in America due to its small human living population and dense amounts of uninhibited wild land! Being Home to more than 100 mammal species and 400 species of birds, Wyoming’s wild residents include bison, mountain lions, wolverines, bobcats, grizzly bears, black bears, elk, moose, deer and pronghorn antelope, as well as wild horses. Where to see wildlife in the US:

bison
A bison stands in front of Mount Moran, north of Jackson Hole Wyoming

Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where Bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. Yellowstone bison are exceptional because they comprise the nation’s largest bison population on public land. Unlike most other herds, this population has thousands of individuals that are allowed to roam relatively freely over the expansive landscape of Yellowstone National Park .

Mountain Lions & Bobcats

Although not commonly seen, mountain lions are widespread throughout Wyoming. They prefer rocky, brushy areas with steep slopes or cliffs and scattered openings in the trees; but in the past few years, they have been encountered in more marginal habitats, often close to human habitation. Read on further about where to see wildlife in the US.

Cougar

One of three wild felids native to Wyoming (the others being bobcats and mountain lions), Canada lynx are specially adapted to live in areas of heavy snowfall and are specifically adapted to hunt a few species of prey, the first being the snowshoe hare.

Wolverines

Wolverines (Gulo gulo) are the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. Wolverines are naturally rare and persist at extremely low population densities. Very few individual wolverines have been detected in Wyoming, including in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The current status and distribution of wolverines in Wyoming is largely unknown, and there are vast tracts of potential wolverine habitat in the high country of the state.

wolverine

Bears

Wyoming has two bear species, the grizzly bear, and the much more common, widespread, and smaller black bear.

Brown Bear Cubs

There are currently approximately 700 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including parts of northwest Wyoming, southwest Montana and eastern Idaho.

Wild Horses

About 6,500 wild horses roam the rangelands of Wyoming.

Wild Horses in Wyoming

The three easiest places to view wild horses are in the Pryor Mountains, outside of Lovell, in southwest Wyoming near Rock Springs, and the Wild Horse Sanctuary located on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Operators

Wyoming is one of the most incredibly wildlife dense states in America, its amazing National Parks such as Yellowstone and Teton make the visit all the more worthwhile! If visiting Wyoming is now on your bucket list here are some operators which may be able to help you on your journey to disocering the “Wild West”. 

Wyoming Wildlife Advocates

Yellowstone National Park Trips

Travel Wyoming : Grand Teton National Park

Colorado: Where to see wildlife in the US

Colorado is considered a state home to one of the healthiest populations of people, possibly due to all the mountainous/ outdoor activities and health focused culture available and the nature at disposal to all. A reason to visit the fresh aired, serene landscapes of wildlife.

horses

Bighorn Sheep, Colorado Bison & Elk

Where to see wildlife in the US: The Bighorn sheep is the official state animal of Colorado, they are fairly elusive and hang out on the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the American Bison are large mammals that can reach up to 6.5 feet tall and weigh up to 2,200 pounds. They travel in herds and have an average life span of 20 years. Elk were almost completely lost from Colorado forever, but due to relocation efforts, Colorado is now home to more than 280,000 elk.

bull elk Where to see wildlife in the US:
Colorado Bull Elk in Rut at Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park

Mountain Lions

Mountains lions can be found throughout the state of Colorado, with most found in the foothills and hardly ever any in the eastern plains. They love areas dense in pinyon pine, juniper, ponderosa pines, and low-lying oak brush.

Where to see wildlife in the US:cougar

Black Bears

Black bears can be found throughout the state of Colorado in areas of Gambel’s oak and aspen and mostly living in oak brush areas and occasionally venturing into aspen forests. The highest concentration consists from Walsenburg to Trinidad, west of the San Luis Valley. 

Birds of Prey

eagle

With more than 400 species in Colorado, there’s no telling which wings you’ll see flapping. Favorite Colorado birds to seek out are the mountain. While there are many birding opportunities throughout the state, the Colorado birding trails are a great place to start. 

Prairie Dogs & Beavers

The black-tailed prairie dog  inhabits the eastern third of Colorado. According to one estimate, black-tailed prairie dogs once covered seven million acres in Colorado. They typically reside in grassland areas below 6,000 feet, east of Colorado’s foothills.

prairie dog

The North American Beaver is a native species to Colorado and plays an important role in the environment and the state’s ecology.They are fairly common in Colorado, including in urban areas. In Castle Rock, beavers are active along East Plum Creek and Sellars Gulch. 

Wildhorses

Where to see wildlife in the US:wild horses

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area covers more than 36,000 acres of beautiful canyons and plateaus where visitors can hike and see the horses roam throughout the area.

Snakes

Colorado is home to about 30 species of snakes. Of these, only three snakes are a risk to humans: the prairie rattlesnake, the Western rattlesnake and the massasauga rattlesnake.  Colorado is home to two species of rattlesnakes: the western/prairie rattlesnake and the massasauga. 

prairie rattlesnake colorado
prairie rattlesnake colorado

Colorado’s four National Parks — Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison are home to some of the world’s most wondrous and diverse scenery. 

Which wildlife in Colorado do you wish to see? Colorado state, has a diverse landscape of arid desert, river canyons and snow-covered Rocky Mountains and won’t disappoint nature lovers in seek of wildlife experiences. We recommend visiting the wildlife in colorado!

California: Where to see wildlife in the US

Wildlife in california; Because of California’s vast size and the fact that it’s a coastal state, it offers a bounteous array of animals. A number of different climates — from the temperate mountains in the north to California’s desert, and from coastal mountains to arid chaparral — contribute to this bounty of animal creatures. And in addition to all the animals that inhabit California’s land, there is another world beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Where to see wildlife in the US:yosemite
Beautiful view from the Yosemite National Park with a deer.

There are many reasons to visit California because there’s something for everyone in the Golden State – fun, adventure, beauty, and history await you in this particular West Coast state. After reading our list of reasons to visit California and the wildlife in california, you’ll be booking your CA trip in no time!

California has more native species than any other state in the U.S. and has the greatest number of endemic species that don’t occur anywhere else in the world.

Mountain Lions

Mountain lions are not threatened nor endangered in California. In fact, the lion population is relatively high in California and their numbers appear to be stable. Mountain lions are legally classified as “specially protected species”. These include the puma/ cougar and bobcats.

Where to see wildlife in the US:puma

Red fox, Wolves and Coyote

The red fox is common in Southern California. They are a secretive, often nocturnal creatures, with an omnivorous diet.The red fox is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the order Carnivora, being present across the entire Northern Hemisphere including most of North America.

Wolves are now returning to California on their own by dispersal of individuals from source populations in other states. For the best wolf sightings, visit in summer or midwinter and search during the early morning. In Yellowstone, look for packs living in the Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, and Blacktail Deer Plateau. In Grand Teton, head to Willow Flats.

coyote

Coyotes are found throughout California, from desert and mountain habitats to urban areas. Problems occur when people begin feeding coyotes, either deliberately or inadvertently.

Black Bears

Two of California’s national parks provide opportunities for bear encounters. Yosemite National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are home to hundreds of black bears.

black bear

Additional Animals:

Raccoons, skunks, weasels, squirrels , kangaroo rats, opposums and ornate shrew are some of the many smaller mammals that find their home in california. Some of the larger mammals that can be found in California are the Elk, Deer, Bighorn Sheep and Zebras.

Marine Life

Marine mammals found in California include harbor seals, elephant seals, sea lions, sea otters, killer whales, and blue, fin, humpback and gray whales.

Where to see wildlife in the US:whales

Especially popular for whalewatching family activities: Gray whales, orcas, humpbacks, minke, finback, and blue whales migrate off the California coast throughout the year, so you’re sure to spot at least one species on a whale-watching excursion. 

California is also known for its extensive birding life and reptiles:

The more than 600 bird species that have been spotted in California make up about two-thirds of all birds species in North America and as for snakes; A total of 23 species of reptiles may be found in California including pond turtles, lizards and snakes; most commonly the Garter snake.

California National Parks

California boasts nine national parks—more than any other state—and each has its own unique appeal. Death Valley is the biggest, the hottest, and the most foreboding. Joshua Tree possesses an otherworldly charm and so much dynamic flora.

tour

9 National Parks: Exploring California’s forests, volcanoes, deserts + islands

Tour Operators

Safari West has acted as a haven for animals in the Sanoma county, california, for years. throughout wildfires, they have remained operational with animal conservation at their forefront. For an authentic safari experience, have a look at the Sanoma serengeti Safari west experience!

Yexplore tours offer exclusive and customizable exploration throughout the exquisite Yosemite National park. Make sure to visit their website on the opportunities that await potential travelers and wildlife enthusiasts.

California has a world of diversity within its state border’s. From the coastline to the desert, animal encounters are guaranteed to be plentiful and authentic.

Florida: Where to see wildlife in the US

florida
Beautiful cloudscape over the sea, sunrise shot

The Sunshine State is not only known for its beautiful beaches and the many hours of sunshine, but is also home to many different animal species.

Florida is one of the states with the highest biodiversity in the USA and is the best place to see dolphins, crocodiles, manatees, snakes, turtles, alligators, panthers, black bears and dozens of bird species like pelicans or flamingos. 

Black Bears

Most major populations of Florida black bears live on or near public lands. These include Ocala National Forest, Big Cypress National Preserve, Apalachicola National Forest, Osceola National Forest and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Where to see wildlife in the US:black bear climbing tree

Snakes

Snakes, which include 44 species of natives, “play an interesting and vital role in Florida’s complex ecology,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They are found in coastal mangroves, freshwater wetlands and dry uplands and in residential areas. In swamps, forests, lakes, and even housing developments where they are sometimes fed. The highest snake occurrence is in the Everglades, in the south of Florida. 

Turtles

Five species of sea turtles are found swimming in Florida’s waters and nesting on Hutchinson Island beaches including Green Sea Turtles, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Ridley’s Kemp Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Sea Turtles, and Leatherback Sea Turtles.

turtle

Leatherbacks nest earliest, from March through July, while greens and loggerheads nest from April through September. A nighttime turtle walk in Cocoa Beach is one of the best ways to see a sea turtle during the nesting season.

Alligators & Crocodiles

Look for gators in the lakes and canals. Merritt Island State Wildlife Refuge east of Titusville on the Space Coast is home to many Florida critters, including gators. A visitor center will help you find the best places to spy the prehistoric beasts.

Where to see wildlife in the US:American Alligator Swimming in Everglades

Alligators appear in multiple places around the continental United States, but they’re most predominantly known for living in Florida because of the Everglades and a large number of swamps. But gators don’t stay confined to the swampy areas. They can be found roaming extensively.

The Florida Everglades is famous for many things, one of them being the only environment on earth in which American Alligators and American Crocodiles coexist in harmony.

Manatees & Dolphins

The best time to swim with manatees in Florida is from mid-November to late March. Only then hundreds of manatees are present at the springs. The total population in Crystal River alone reaches up to 800 manatees during the winter months.

Usually in Florida both names refer to the Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates), the species commonly found along Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. (True porpoises are a different saltwater mammal and are not commonly found in Florida waters.) Dolphins are gray with a lighter underside.

dolphins

Because dolphins are relatively common around the Sunshine State, the range of locations, tours and attractions is quite wide. Whether in St. Augustine, Miami Beach or the Florida Keys, you can encounter them almost everywhere along the coasts. If you want to play it safe and get up close and personal with these playful creatures, you can book many boat or kayak tours at the following locations for very little money:
– Biscayne Bay
– Key West
– Fort Meyers Beach

Bird Life

Bird enthusiasts are championing the return of the famous creature, and Everglades National Park is the destination for catching a glimpse of flamingos stateside. There are 196 species of breeding birds in Florida. Read the Breeding Bird Atlas to see where they live and find out fascinating facts about these species.

Where to see wildlife in the US:flamingos

Locations

Wildlife habitats in Florida cover large areas. Here we once again compile the best places to encounter wildlife. In addition to Florida’s 171 state parks, the following national parks are particularly worth visiting.

Hawaii: Where to see wildlife in the US

Hawaii

Where to see wildlife in the US: Hawaii is a worldwide beach destination which is renowned for amazing beaches with warm waters, and beautiful mountain ranges. The wildlife of Hawaii can be as mysterious as it is beautiful, and this blog is going to give you some insight into Hawaii’s hidden treasures!

Dolphins of Hawaii

With 18 species of toothed dolphins swimming in the tepid waters of Hawaii, the most common are the Hawaiian spinner, spotted (kiko), bottlenose and rough-toothed dolphins. Other often seen members of the dolphin family, although termed as whales (kohola) are pilot and false killer whales.

Where to see wildlife in the US:dolphins

They are usually seen in smaller pods or groups of less than 10 individuals. Intelligent and high up on the oceanic food chain, dolphins are found to engage in playful activities including bow riding where they surf in front of a boat or even a whale’s bow wave.

Hawaiian Hoary Bat

is the only extant land mammal native to the Hawaiian archipelago. It is listed as endangered due to apparent population declines, and a lack of knowledge concerning its distribution, abundance, and habitat needs.

Where to see wildlife in the US:bats

The use of sophisticated DNA sequencing by a team of scientists has determined that Hawaii’s state land mammal, the Hawaiian hoary bat, migrated to the islands from the Pacific coast of North America in two separate waves more than 9,000 years apart.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawaii and are the only marine mammal found solely in U.S. waters. The majority of these animals live in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and about 200 are found on the main islands. The Hawaiian monk seal is named for its folds of skin that somewhat resemble a monk’s cowl, and because it’s usually seen alone or in small groups.

manatees

The Indian Mongoose

The mongooses found in Hawai’i are native to India and were originally introduced to Hawai’i Island in 1883 by the sugar industry to control rats in sugarcane fields on Maui, Moloka’i and O’ahu. 

mongoose

The Indian gray mongoose is particuarlly known for its fondness of fighting and eating poisonous snakes, such as cobras. “Rikki-tikki-tavi” is a short story by Rudyard Kipling about a young mongoose that fights a cobra. Mongooses can live for up to 20 years in captivity, according to National Geographic.

Deer of Hawaii

Where to see wildlife in the US:deer

The United States. In the 1860s, axis deer were introduced to the island of Molokai, Hawaii, in 1867 as a gift to King Kamehameha. The deer were introduced to Lanai, another of the Hawaiian Islands, soon afterward and are now plentiful on both islands. With no natural predators on Molokai, the population has exploded, and there now are an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 deer on the 260 square mile island. Residents have a hard time controlling the population by hunting alone.

Feral Wallaby

Wallabies are not native to Hawai’i, but they are not considered invasive, and are protected by state law. They’re only found on O’ahu, apparently the result of a single pair escaping from a private zoo in Kalihi more than one hundred years ago, in 1916.

Where to see wildlife in the US:wallaby

Turtles

Sea Turtles In Hawaii. Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles make their home in Hawaii’s waters, including the green sea turtle (honu), hawksbill (honu’ea), leatherback, loggerhead, and olive ridley.

Where to see wildlife in the US:turtles

Summer is the best time of year to spot green sea turtles at Laniakea Beach, thanks to calmer waters. Colder months, especially during winter, bring larger waves to the north shore. Sea turtles prefer calmer water and may come ashore to sun themselves during ideal conditions.

There is so much to discover beyond the beautiful mountains and beaches.

Summary

yosemite

Did you enjoy this article on where to see wildlife in the US Featuring the top wildlife encounters around the country. From Alaska to Hawaii, let us know which of these states’ wildlife is on your bucket list to experience first hand!

For more on the wildlife in the United States, have a look at our individual feature blogs of the here covered states: Alaska, Wyoming, California, Hawaii, Colorado, New York and Florida, on our blog page that is all things animal lover.

Enjoy!