USA national parks and wildlife


WHAT TO SEE IN THE NATIONAL PARKS

Protecting wild animals and their habitats is what national parks are all about. The trips we feature to national parks will, almost undoubtedly, bring you in touch with some of the park wildlife, as it roams freely without barriers and thrives on carefully managed landscapes. Some trips specialize in wildlife watching in national parks but, in general, if you keep your eyes open, you will catch a glimpse of an elk, moose, deer or eagle. Here are just a few of our favourites, with the National Parks Service the deepest font of wildlife knowledge out there.

Bears


Just like the cuddly ones, they come in many colours: black, blonde, cinnamon or brown. But they’re not so cuddly. And then there is the somewhat unique grizzly as well, which can be blonde to reddish to dark brown. But you can’t miss a grizzly, as they can be as much as 2.5 metres tall. Grizzlies are only in the far north of the US now, and can be seen in Glacier National Park in Montana although sightings are rare. Not everyone wants to encounter a bear, of course, but it is very rare for a brown or black bear to attack a human. They can be found in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Yosemite and Yellowstone, to name but a few.

Birdlife


You mustnít forget to look up in the national parks, because there are usually wonders to behold soaring back and forth across canyons, or nestling into ponderosa pine forest. In the national parks with the highest peaks, such as Rocky Mountain or Yosemite, the birdlife is mountainous and majestic too with hawks and eagles a-plenty. In the sunken depths of the Grand Canyon you might even be lucky enough to spot a condor, thanks to a recent programme of reintroduction.

Know an elk from a moose


Before you go to the USA, you need to know your moose from your elks. Not that you will worry about definitions if one walks out in front of your car, but they are part and parcel of many national parks, so it’s good to know. A North American moose is what we Europeans like to call an elk. They are the largest of the deer family in North America, have palm-shaped antlers and a chin beard. The American elk is what Europeans call red deer, more rust-coloured than a moose, with stick-like antlers and about 180 kg lighter in weight.
Written by Catherine Mack
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Photo credits: [Page banner: Mike van Dalen]
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