You can find some unique wildlife in the USA. The U.S. offers diversity in both natural life and landscapes. So much so, that travelers often miss out on lesser-known areas that are actually teeming with wonderful flora and fauna. So, without further ado, here are 10 unexpected places in the USA for wildlife lovers.
Unexpected Places in the USA for Wildlife Lovers
Watch a galloping, huge herd of actual wild mustangs on the outskirts of Salt Lake City in Utah. You’ll see horses in every possible shade of brown beautifully backdropped by the awesome Oquirrh and Wasatch Mountains. Seeing these mustangs makes many equestrian enthusiasts and wildlife lovers understand just what it really means to run wild and free and what life on the open range is like.
Exit Highway 172. Drive roughly 10 miles past the old pony express sign. Make a right onto the dirt road. Drive patiently until you spot them.
2. Prairie Dogs
The original range of prairie dogs has shrunk because of the 1862 Homesteading Act and the 1887 Dawes Act which permitted settlers to use a lot of their habitat for farms, ranches, and homes. You can see them in the wild within the area of Badlands National Park and the Great Plains. Park on any shoulder outlook and keep an eye on the landscape for movement in the burrows.
3. Bald Eagles
The yearly Eagle Festival in Alton, Illinois in January. The chilling temperatures never prevent these birds from flocking to their selected seasonal roost close to the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers annually. The festival celebrates their winter migration. It’s held in the Audubon Center. Every year more than one thousand bald eagles come here along the well-known Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, found right outside St. Louis Illinois.
4. Pronghorn Sheep
The best place to see endemic pronghorn sheep is in Wyoming’s Wind River County. The Wyoming Scenic Byway Highway 191 actually crosses an important one of their most important migration routes. The pronghorns have been using this place for a long time.
Every winter, they travel many miles from the famous Grand Teton National Park in Northern Wyoming to the well-known Red Desert along Colorado’s border. The Red Desert is a popular refuge for the largest pronghorn herd. Your best bet is to watch for them from the byway during winter when they stand out against the white snow.
5. Wild Dolphins
One reason to visit Florida’s family-friendly Panama City Beach is to see dolphins in the wild. Indeed, many different species of dolphins live in the water here. The most common is the bottlenose dolphin.
The always warm gulf water and other marine life make this a great place for dolphins to live. They are very intelligent and playful so could very well get close to your boat and even put on a show. Large pods of dolphins feed close to the shore. The best way to see them is to charter or rent a boat and head toward Shell Island.
6. American Buffalo or Bison
South Dakota’s Custer State Park is the home of North America’s largest bison herds so it is obviously the best place to see them outside of famous Yellowstone National Park. Although they were hunted to near-extinction in the 17 and 1800s, during the last 100 years, special reintroduction programs–such as the one run in Custer State Park—have led to a herd of between 1,300 and 1,400 you can see all year. The best time to visit though is during the spring when you can see all the cute baby bison too.
7. Sandhill Cranes
Gibbon, Nebraska is where you’ll find one of the most significant epic bird migrations in North America. The best way to see these birds is to sit in a little bird blind with windows that are just big enough for cameras and binoculars. There are millions of them along the local Platte river.
They forage for food in the numerous cornfields during the day and roost by the river at night. You can see them on their migration route approximately 20 miles east of Kearney from March to the middle of April at sunrise or right before sunset.
8. Wild Manatees
Manatees inhabit the water in Citrus County, north of Tampa, Florida from roughly April through October. This is the planet’s biggest natural winter refuge for these sea cows and is nicknamed “the Manatee Capital of the world.” They are drawn here by the many freshwater springs and the approximately-70-degree-temperature water. There are numerous observation points here. It is also one of the few places in the state where you can get up close and swim with them.
9. The Sage Grouse
The large, chicken-like Sage Grouse generally blends in with the sagebrush in Idaho and Colorado. They are famous for their unique Spring mating dance which they perform every year when they return to their mating grounds to breed. It is a ritual that reportedly is one of the world’s “top wildlife wonders.” Literally, dozens of males flock together at sunrise in the open spaces to perform for females and compete for the opportunity to mate with a female.
10. Gray Wolves
Remote Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota borders Canada and is home to the timber (a.k.a. gray) wolf. While the state is home to almost 3,000 wolves, 50 or fewer live in the park. These animals are quite skittish and difficult to spot. The water-locked, smaller park, however, makes the task easier than searching for them elsewhere.
If you visit in the summer or spring, take a kayak or boat and look for them on the lakes’ shorelines. Experts report that the best time to see them here is in the winter. In the winter you might spot them walking across the park entrances or traveling along the frozen shores while hunting. If you plan on looking for them along the shores though, rent an ATV so you will be able to cross the frozen lakes.