Wildlife holidays in USA

Wildlife holidays in USA travel guide


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

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 – 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, prioritizing its conservation. In California the state mammal is the endangered grey whale. In Colorado, the state animal is the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and Nevada the Desert bighorn sheep. Alaska has the moose, Wyoming the bison and Montana the grizzly bear.

The 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 Canyon’s Colorado River. Which is more than can be said for lions in the UK.

Read more in our Wildlife holidays in the USA travel guide.
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Go if…


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

Don’t go if…


...you want to do a whistlestop wildlife tour. Good things come to those who wait.
...don’t do extreme elements. USA’s wild places get super hot and super cold.
…. you think national parks are like safari parks. They aren’t. There are no fences, they are all about allowing wild animals to roam free. And don’t even think about touching any of them.
…you want to drive everywhere. Hiking is the way to hone in on habitats.

Wildlife in America


MAP & HIGHLIGHTS

The USA’s prolific and pioneering national park system is inextricably linked with wildlife holidays, as the parks were fundamentally created not for our enjoyment, but 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 beauties or elusive wolves in Yellowstone, grizzlies in Alaska’s Denali National Park and golden eagles soaring over the Grand Canyon. Wildlife isn’t 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. And, just an hour from Manhattan, dolphins off Long Island and bears in the Catskills Mountains.
Alaska Bears Bison Hawaii Wolves Yellowstone

Alaska

Alaska is way up there, and way out in terms of wildlife watching too. A land of extraordinary national parks including USA’s 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 NP is a top spot for viewing the Kodiak bear preying on migratory salmon heading upstream – if they can make it past the clambering claws.

Bears

Bears are surprisingly widespread across the USA, with Yellowstone NP 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 – particularly in Katmai NP. Head to Yosemite, the Appalachians or the Rocky mountains for black bears to be wary and in awe of.

Bison

Once thundering across the plains in their millions, North America’s largest land animal was reduced to just a few hundred individuals in the 1800s by hunters. Bison have had an impressive comeback though – 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

Humpback whales aren’t 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 California’s Monterey from April-Dec.

Wolves

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

Yellowstone National Park

The mother of them all as Yellowstone was America’s first national park. And also where Mother Nature nurtures a plethora of wildlife. Although it is famous worldwide, it is not as packed with visitors as you might think, as it’s 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.

Photo credits: [Top box: Angell Williams] [Map intro box: Yellowstone National Park] [Yellowstone National Park: Eric Vaughn] [Bears: Yellowstone National Park] [wolves : Ellie Attebery] [Bison: schizoform] [Alaska: Denali National Park and Preserve]
Written by Catherine Mack
Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton NP holiday

Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton NP holiday

Explore wildlife trails of these famous national parks

From £3049 12 days ex flights
Alaska adventure holiday, salmon run

Alaska adventure holiday, salmon run

Active small group adventures in a retrofitted school bus

From US $3300 20 Days ex flights
Alaska Wilderness and wildlife tour

Alaska Wilderness and wildlife tour

The ultimate Alaskan adventure

From £4199 14 days ex flights
Alaska railway holiday, Kenai Fjords and Denali

Alaska railway holiday, Kenai Fjords and Denali

An awe-inspiring scenic rail journey through Alaska

From £2045 10 Days ex flights
Wolf watching holiday in Yellowstone, USA

Wolf watching holiday in Yellowstone, USA

Expert guided trips to track & watch wolves in Yellowstone

From £2615 7 Days ex flights
Rocky Mountains wildlife holiday, USA

Rocky Mountains wildlife holiday, USA

Active exploration of three national parks

From £3319 14 Days inc UK flights
Humpback whale watching holiday in Hawaii

Humpback whale watching holiday in Hawaii

Outstanding Humpback whale watching holiday in Maui, Hawaii

From €2895 7 Days ex flights
Denali National Park holiday in Alaska

Denali National Park holiday in Alaska

Experience untouched wilderness off the beaten path

From US $1690 12 Days ex flights
Alaska wildlife cruise

Alaska wildlife cruise

Explore the natural history and heritage of Alaska

From CA $5265 9 Days ex flights
Alaska adventure holiday, Kenai Peninsula

Alaska adventure holiday, Kenai Peninsula

Orcas, Humpbacks and Glaciers: Experience Alaska's coastline

From US $1890 9 Days ex flights
Hawaii small group holiday, whales & beaches

Hawaii small group holiday, whales & beaches

experience whales & dolphins and nature & culture of Hawai´i

From €1499 24 Days ex flights
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