Top Ten Family Vacations for Wildlife - Page 3

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roosevelt elk Yellowstone national park
NATURE’S ZOO: A Roosevelt elk in Yellowstone National Park  (Corbis)

5. Banff National Park, Alberta
This is one of the most magnificent parks in the world. It's also one of the most family-friendly, with views along the Banff-Jasper Highway affording glimpses of moose, bear, eagles, elk, big horn sheep, and mountain goat, as well as the grand, snowcapped peaks, vibrantly colored lakes, and endless forests. The park is huge, with 2,564 square miles of protected land. In addition to some of the best hiking and fishing in the world, there's excellent rafting and horseback riding. The Banff-Jasper region has a wide variety of accommodations—from youth hostels to luxury hotels to cozy lake-side cabins. Wildlife is so abundant that animal tunnels have been installed under the highway to accommodate the frequent moose crossings. There are so many elk in the area that they roam the streets of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper (but don't forget they are not pets).
Banff Family Vacation Guide

4. Barbados Wildlife Reserve, the Caribbean
Here's a great family-friendly Caribbean destination that boasts rainforest animals AND good snorkeling. Barbados Wildlife Reserve at Farley Hill, St. Peter, is one of the best places for families to immerse themselves with rainforest wild life—screeching peacocks, herons, and brilliantly colored parrots. Afternoon feeding of the Barbados green monkeys is something kids won't want to miss (and it just might teach them some table manners). Strolling among the seemingly one-legged flamingoes with the rainforest canopy overhead almost defines "exotic." Reptile lovers will appreciate the collection of snakes (in cages), iguanas, turtles, and tortoises.
Barbados Family Vacation Guide

3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Summer is the best time to see Yosemite's host of wild creatures. Touted to have the greatest concentration of mammals in the Lower 48, this is the place for families to see up-close wildlife in a wild setting. There are so many bison, black bear and grizzlies, elk, moose, and wolves, that sometimes you need to remind yourself that the animals are wild and should never be approached. About 25,000 elk spend their summers in the park, joined by about 800 moose and several thousand bison. Lamar Valley is your best chance of spotting a gray wolf. Southwest of the park is Yellowstone Bear World, where you are guaranteed to see a real-life Teddy—from the safety of your own car!
Yellowstone National Park Family Vacation Guide

2. Newport, Oregon
The central Oregon coast has been a favorite place for families to watch sea lions since the 1800s. Even an evening stroll along the sandy shoreline of Newport Beach can provide some up-close-and-personal time with these giant "lions" of the sea—but keep your distance. In addition to dense sea lion populations, this section of coast has excellent whale-watching—and you can almost always spot seals frolicking in the surf. Two top attractions are the Sea Lion Caves, just south of Newport, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium with seals, sea lions, tufted puffins, and a giant octopus. The beaches have abundant tide pools where kids can experience sea urchins, sea stars, and shore and hermit crabs. Clean, budget-priced hotel rooms are abundant, plus there's neat yurt camping along the coastline.
Oregon Family Vacation Guide

1. Grand Paradiso National Park, Italy
Walking hut to hut while viewing magnificent mountains and an abundance of wildlife is one of the quintessential European outdoor experiences, and this spot in northern Italy is tops. About 1.5 hours from airports in Milan or Geneva, Grand Paradiso was Europe's first National Park, and was originally the private hunting reserve of the ruling House of Savoy. In 1856 King Vittorio Emmanuel II declared part of the hunting grounds as a protected area—primarily to help save the indigenous ibex. About 3,000 of these powerful mountain goats now live in the park, along with ermine, weasel, Eurasian badger, alpine chamois, and more than 100 bird species. There are about 450 miles of trails lined with family-friendly huts. Today the park covers 173,000 acres of mountains, lakes, forests, and meadows, and butts up against France's 200-square-mile Vanoise National Park.
Italy Family Vacation Guide

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