Where does one start when it comes to traveling in the USA? Well, with our USA travel guide, which takes you around not only the national park wonders in the Rocky Mountains but the deserts and canyons of the West, the culture-rich Deep South and the littoral loveliness of both east and west coasts, as well as on road trips that take in bits and pieces of all of them.
USA national parks and wildlife
The images of the national parks were in my head before I went there. But no pictures can prepare you for seeing a grizzly in the field.
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.
Our National Parks of America Vacations
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.
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.
If you'd like to chat about National Parks of America or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
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.
More about National Parks of America
Learn about the best time to visit US national parks for hiking and wildlife watching with our month-by-month explainer and find tips on how to avoid the worst of the crowds.
We're huge fans of American national parks here at Responsible Travel. There are 62 of them in total, and on top of that there are tribal parks on their doorsteps, as well as a plethora of state parks and forestry reserves.
There are 62 national parks in the USA and they are all outstanding. Some are very well known, but take a look at our USA national parks maps & itineraries to see just a few more of the greats.
Hiking is of course one of the greatest things to do in USA national parks. You can go for a few hours or for days, but they are vast, so you really do need to know what you are doing.
USA national parks for families on vacation are all about the outdoors, big landscapes, wildlife and camping, as well as great budget prices.
The USA national parks travel advice below comes from both tour guides and expert companies who know the parks inside out, and also travelers who have been there and loved them.
National parks are, in many ways, the pioneers of responsible tourism.