May 7, 2015
Pack Your Bags: 12 Places to See Amazing Wildlife
By Ruthanne Johnson
All Animals, the membership magazine of The Humane Society of the United States, recently featured a dozen wildlife-watching vacations.
Which spot will top your list?
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Thousands of fireflies flashing in unison emerge for about two weeks each summer in a discotheque-like mating display near the park’s Elkmont Campground.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
These protected wetlands become an airport stopover of sorts for tens of thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes during their fall migration, inspiring visitors with en masse liftoffs in the dawn’s early light.
Brooks Camp, Katmai National Park, Alaska
During the summer salmon run, dozens of grizzly bears gather at famous Brooks Falls to partake in the bounty.
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Between 15,000 and 20,000 sea turtle nests have been recorded along this 20-mile stretch of beach, with as many as 1,000 over a single mile.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Wintertime in the park is magical: Steam rises eerily from hot vents, icicles hang from bison’s faces and wolves gather into more cohesive packs, making them easy to spot against the snow.
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
About 100 wild ponies live on this barrier island, where visitors can camp on the beach, swim in the ocean and watch ponies grazing in the salt marshes and sometimes even standing in the surf.
Blue Spring State Park, Florida
It’s not unusual to find more than 400 manatees hanging out in the warm spring when temperatures drop below 60: huge adult males, mothers and calves rolling around in play.
Machias Seal Island, Maine
After spending winter on the open ocean, thousands of puffins arrive here each April, giving visitors the chance to watch the tuxedo-colored birds preen, rub their bright orange bills together and bring in fish for their young.
Bracken Cave, Comal County, Texas
It’s quite a sight to see 15 to 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats begin their four-hour exodus from the cave at dusk each summer night.
Monterey Bay, California
Even see a whale bobbing perpendicular in a feat called spy hopping? The bay, often referred to as the Serengeti of the Sea, offers whale watching year-round.
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ohio
Warblers live dispersed throughout most of their lives but amass in special places along their migration routes to rest and eat, like the thousands who stop over at Magee Marsh each May before their long flight over Lake Erie.
Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California
More than 60 unique species live on the island, including the house cat-sized island fox, commonly seen in the campgrounds and along hiking trails.