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Watching Wildlife at Glacier National Park

Located in the state of Montana is Glacier National Park, home to 71 species of mammals, ranging from the tiny pygmy shrew, to the American Elk, Glacier National Park is regarded as a largely undisturbed park in the United States. This is due to two reasons: the park was designated in 1910, much earlier than other parks, and the park is massive in size, totaling to over 1 million acres.

So what kind of wildlife viewing can you expect to do at this park? We’ll go in-depth on animals we haven’t covered yet, leaving notable mentions to those we have covered.

Glacier National Park’s Most Watched Animals

Bats: Glacier National Park is home to nine species of bat, with the most common being the little brown bat. Known as insectivores that consume one third of their bodyweight in insects during their nocturnal feeding periods, these bats are nearly 52.5 million years old. During the winter months, many of the bats will fly out of the park into warmer locations.

Bears: Grizzly bears can run up to 45 miles per hour, feeding on nuts, berries, plant roots, and other animals. They are often agitated when confronted and are more likely to attack than a black bear. A black bear is more common than a grizzly bear, found across North America. They have shorter, more curved claws than grizzly bears and are not aggressive.

Beavers: As a crepuscular species, meaning they are active in the morning and evening hours, beavers live in family groups and feed off of willow, aspen, and cottonwood. They also rely on underwater plants for nourishment.

Bighorn Sheep: Although these sheep are widely dispersed over the Rocky Mountains, they can also be found in fragmented populations throughout the park. Named for the large, curved horns on the males, male sheephorn can be spotted by having head-butting contests to win over a female.

Elk: During the winter, most elk will retreat from the park. They are known to be the one of the most abundant large mammals in Glacier National Park, with antlers that can weigh about 30 pounds per pair.

Lynx: Although rarely seen in the continental United States, the American Lynx is listed as a threatened species in the lower 48 states today. The Canada Lynx does frequent portions of Glacier National Park at times. At more than twice the size of a domestic cat, lynx prefer to hunt in higher elevations, where they can blend in and find their prey.

Mountain Goats: The Rocky Mountain Goat is well suited for survival high up in the Rockies today, with two layers of wool, and a dense overcoat covered by an outer layer of long hollow hairs. Their specialized cloven hooves with traction-creating inner pads and dewclaws provide easy footing as they jump between cliffs.

Mountain Lions: The largest feline in North America, the Mountain Lion, is a site to beheld in Glacier National Park. Although not commonly seen, they are considered one of the larger predators in the park, preying on moose, elk, deer, sheep, and smaller animals.

Wolverines: Regarded as the largest member of the weasel family, wolverines reside in remote wilderness with ample spring snow covering. Their short, stocky legs gives them the ability to navigate ice and snow, with a thick coat for keeping them warm. Highly nomadic, these weasels will travel great distances in search of food.

Viewing Locations

  • Logan Pass: mountain goats, bighorn sheep, lynx
  • Spreey/Gunsight: mountain goats
  • Hidden Lake: mountain goats, black bears
  • Iceberg Lake: mountain goats, black bears
  • Grinnell Lake: mountain goats, black bears
  • Fishercap Lake: moose
  • Swiftcurrent: bears, moose
  • Many Glacier: grizzle bears

When Should You Go?

Since Glacier National Park is located to the far north of the United States, the most popular time to visit the park is the July/August portion of the year. The park can endure below freezing temperatures from October to May. If you are not a seasoned hiker or winter adventurer, stick to the late spring, summer, and early fall seasons. The average daily temperature is usually in the low 70s, with evenings dropping down to the 40s (it is not warm there).
For those who are experienced with winter-time hiking and adventuring, Glacier National Park can be highly rewarding.

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Watching Wildlife in the Everglades

Everglades National Park has a unique climate, providing a habitat for wildlife you cannot see anywhere else. Nestled in Central Florida, the Everglades are one of the best places in the world to observe the American alligator. That’s why millions of people this year will make their voyage to Florida to see what all the fuss is about.

The Everglades’ Most Watched Animals

Manatees: The West Indian Manatee is the most symbolic animal of the entire Everglades network, known as the gentle giants or sea cows of Florida. They spend hours each day grazing on marine grasses and other aquatic plants. Presently listed as endangered due to boat propeller injuries, try to use non-propeller machines when touring the Everglades.

American Alligator: Dwelling in freshwater marshes of the park, sometimes venturing into the Florida Bay, the American Alligator has made its way off of the endangered list. Essential to the Everglades’ system since they create “gator holes” that many other species rely on, the American Alligator is a remarkable, prehistoric species we should never take for granted.

American Crocodile: Distinguished from the alligator by its pointed noise and visible rows of teeth when the mouth is closed, these crocodiles can be seen in mangrove swamps, creeks, and bays throughout the Everglades.

White-Tailed Deer: Identified by the white underside of their tails, dappled with spots that disappear as they grow, the white-tailed deer are prey for alligators and the occasional Florida panther.

Turtles: There are over a dozen species of turtle that are known to the Everglades, as well as some tortoises and terrapins. They include the loggerhead, Atlantic hawksbill, Florida snapping turtle, and the Atlantic leatherback.

Florida Panther: This rare and critically endangered animal is a subspecies of the mountain lion that reaches up to 6 feet in length. By 1990, it was estimated there were only 50 cats left. The park authorities are working hard to bring it back from extinction.

Bottlenosed Dolphin: The Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin is commonly found in the estuarine and marine areas of the Everglades. They range in size from 8 to 12 feet long, living in pods that vary from two to 15 dolphins.

In recent years, there have been several baby and pet deaths at the hands of Florida alligators and crocodiles. Do not let children or pets swim in any bodies of water, as well as stand at the shoreline.

Viewing Locations

Where are the best places to get a sight of some of North America’s most famous species?

  • Shark Valley: alligators, wading birds, snakes, turtles
  • Royal Palm: alligators, wading birds
  • Eco Pond: alligators, wading birds
  • Snake Bite: wading birds
  • Chokoloskee Bay: wading birds
  • Flamingo Area: dolphins, manatees, sharks, birds of prey

When Should You Go?

Although winter might make it challenging to explore parks like Yellowstone, it’s actually the best time of year to foray into the Everglades National Park. Weather conditions are most pleasant, with water levels low. Since the levels are low, wildlife will congregate at central water locations.

The Everglades provides a habitat you can’t find in any other park around the United States. It is highly recommended that you make time to see some of these incredible species before they go extinct.

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Watching Wildlife at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of the best places in the world to watch some of the most magical big game animals roam in freedom. That’s why Yellowstone is such a popular destination for travelers – not only does it have the geysers, but it has the wildlife, too.

What are these majestic beasts you can behold in Yellowstone? Let’s look at some of their “top” species for wildlife watching.

Yellowstone’s Most Watched Animals

Photograph of a Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles: If you want to see bald eagles in the sky roaming free, then head over to Yellowstone National Park. Noted for their big white heads and tails, as well as their symbolism of American freedom, bald eagles – once at the point of extinction – have made a big comeback in America.

Photograph of a Bear with Cubs

Bears: Yellowstone is home to both grizzly bears and black bears. Grizzly bears can run up to 45 miles per hour, feeding on nuts, berries, plant roots, and other animals. They are often agitated when confronted and are more likely to attack than a black bear. A black bear is more common than a grizzly bear, found across North America. They have shorter, more curved claws than grizzly bears and are not aggressive.

Photograph of Bison

Bison: thanks to the conservation efforts of 100-yers ago, the American bison can be witnessed in Yellowstone. In fact, Yellowstone is home to the nation’s largest bison population on public land. These creatures can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, roaming for hundreds of miles to find food. They are characterized by their thick winter coats.

Photograph of Elk

Elk: There are between 10,000 and 20,000 elk living in Yellowstone today. During the winter, most elk will retreat from the park. They are known to be the most abundant large mammal in Yellowstone, with antlers that can weigh about 30 pounds per pair.

Photograph of a wolf

Rocky Mountain Wolves: Due to a destruction of habitat, wolves have largely retreated from the United States northward today. These creatures used to roam as far south as Mexico, with only 100 wolves calling Yellowstone their home today. Commonly traveling in packs of 10 or more, wolves communicate through barks, whines, growls, and howls. They will not attack unless provoked.

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout: The most abundant fish in the park is the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. These native trout are an important food for at least 16 species of birds and mammals. Defined by their red-orange mark under their jaw, these trout can be found in the cool, clean water streams and lakes around the park confines.

Beavers: This keystone species can be found all over the park, with beaver dams galore. As a crepuscular species, meaning they are active in the morning and evening hours, beavers live in family groups and feed off of willow, aspen, and cottonwood. They also rely on underwater plants for nourishment.

Bighorn Sheep: Although these sheep are widely dispersed over the Rocky Mountains, they can also be found in fragmented populations throughout the park. Named for the large, curved horns on the males, male sheephorn can be spotted by having head-butting contests to win over a female.

Boreal Chorus Frogs: Due to their small size and secretive habitats, it can be hard to spot these frogs. However, you will certainly hear them as you make your way around the park.
Long-Tailed Weasels: Cute as can be, the long-tailed weasel can be spotted in forests, open grassy meadows, marshes, and near water. Spotted as a solitary creature, they are known for their long, sleek bodies and small heads. Their fur turns completely white during the winter.

Moose: The largest member of the deer family, the moose, is commonly found in Yellowstone. Although relatively harmless, these massive creatures can get aggressive if threatened or scared.

Pikas: Considered an indicator species for detecting ecological effects of climate change, the pika inhabits rocky alpines and sub-alpine areas. Active during the daytime, be sure to look at the ground when you are walking to try and spot one.

River Otters: Yes, Yellowstone is home to the North American River Otter! As the most aquatic member of the weasel family, these otters can stay underwater for an impressive length of 8-minutes. They are also naturally waterproof and completely adorable.

Trumpeter Swans: Named for its trumpet call, the Trumpeter Swan is North America’s biggest waterfowl. Able to sleep on land or on water, swans make for gorgeous lake pictures set against Yellowstone’s natural flora.

With many more animal options for you to consider, you can see that there is no shortage of animal appreciation within the confines of the park. Just remember to keep your distance!

Viewing Locations

Where are the best places within the park to see these animals?

  • Fishing Bridge: grizzly bears
  • Hayden Valley: bison, black bears, elk, grizzly bears, wolves
  • Lamar Valley: bison, black bears, bighorn sheep, elk, grizzly bears, mule, deer, pronghorn, wolves
  • Mammoth Hot Springs: bison, black bears, elk, mule deer
  • Madison: bison, elk
  • North Entrance: bighorn sheep, bison, elk, pronghorn
  • Northeast Entrance: moose
  • Old Faithful: bison, elk
  • South Entrance: moose
  • West Thumb: elk, moose

When Should You Go?

Seasonality plays a role in every American National Park. However, when it comes to Yellowstone, the wildlife viewing opportunities are amazing any time of year. You can catch the animals feeding during early morning and evening hours. If you want to see hibernation animals, like bears, you can catch them awakening from their slumber during April. However, although they aren’t around in the winter, you can still get a perfect view of a wolf, which prefers to do most of its roaming during the colder months.

Of course, if you hate crowds, the colder, winter months are when the park experiences the least amount of visitors. Naturally, the summer is when it is its busiest.

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