Top Ten National Parks for Wildlife Viewing

Denali National Park, Alaska
By Nicole Daro

Best for: Dall sheep, caribou, grizzlies, and wolves.

Dall sheep, caribou, moose, wolves, and grizzlies all make the treeless expanse of Denali National Park their home. The open tundra, taiga forest, and gravel bars make for great wildlife viewing; any hike into the Trailless Wilderness is likely to be rewarded with lots of animal sightings.

Bus tours along the park road do offer good opportunities to see the animals—watch for moose, who often walk right along the road. Your best bet, though, is to get off the bus and hike at least a few miles in from the road. You can start your hike into the wilderness just about anywhere along the road; the Tolkat turnaround makes a good starting point for hikes into Dall sheep and grizzly country. Dall sheep, with their large curled horns, are unafraid of humans; if you spot them in the backcountry, you may be able to watch them lazing around in packs snacking on vegetation.

While moose and grizzlies are common in the park (learn ahead of time what to do if you encounter them), wolf sightings occur far less frequently. If you hear their howl in the distance, think of it as a testament to how truly wild this region is.

For the animals that stay throughout the year, strategies for surviving extreme winter conditions are key. Perhaps grizzlies thought of the best way to wait out the winter: Dig a hole, crawl in, and stay there 'till the harshest months have passed. In summer, though, you'll find families of grizzly bears all over the park, and probably in your camp, too, if you aren't careful to bear-proof all of your food.


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