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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

Photo by Radim Schreiber/Fireflyexperience.org

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

Photo by Daniel D'Auria, MD

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

Photo by NPS/M. Fritz

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

Photo by Cody Mott/Inwater Research Group

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

Photo by Peter Murray

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

Photo by Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures/National Geographic Creative

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

Photo by Wayne C. Hartley/Save the Manatee Club

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

Photo by Ray Hennessy

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

Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle/Bat Conservation International/Batcon.org

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

Photo by www.bigsurphoto.com

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

Photo by Al Freeman/www.acfreeman.com

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

Photo by James A. Giroux

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.


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