By Allie Wisniewski, American Forests
Hidden Lake Overlook, Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park in Montana is home to nearly 70 species of mammals, so although it’s never all that difficult to spot its resident fauna, the Hidden Lake Overlook trail is particularly well known for frequent wildlife sightings. At only 1.35 miles, this trail is especially great for those who aren’t looking for a strenuous journey.
What you’ll see: Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, wolverines
Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
While Cades Cove is one of the park’s most popular destinations, opportunities for viewing wildlife remain abundant. The valley is surrounded by mountains and an 11-mile loop encircles the cove. While the road can also be driven, it’s closed to motor vehicles until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday for the enjoyment of wildlife-seeking hikers and bikers.
What you’ll see: White-tailed deer, black bears, elk, coyotes, turkeys, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons
Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
For avid bird-watchers, Trail Ridge Road is way to go. Known for its alpine tundra terrain, this trail is ideal for spotting marmots and pikas (small, light-colored mammals) as well as a variety of birds, though some are rare and generally difficult to spot. White-tailed ptarmigans, for example, are some of the most sought-after birds in the park. Are you up for the challenge?
What you’ll see: Clark’s nutcrackers, Steller’s jays, golden eagles, prairie falcons, marmots, pikas
Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park
Between April and May and again in October and November, Rialto Beach on the Olympic Coast offers the unique opportunity to observe whales during their migration. Olympic National Park reminds its visitors to consult a tide chart before setting out to hike the beach, as it’s easy to become caught unaware by high tides.
What you’ll see: Gray whales, orcas, humpback whales
San Miguel Island, Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands are a haven for a diverse variety of plants and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else. San Miguel Island, specifically, provides the perfect habitat for breeding populations of many species of pinnipeds, an order of carnivorous aquatic mammals. With wide, sandy beaches, plenty of food and isolation with minimal human disturbance, the location is ideal. Hike to Point Bennett to enjoy the most famous viewing spot.
What you’ll see: California sea lions, harbor seals, northern elephant seals, northern fur seals, Guadalupe fur seals, Stellar sea lions