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America’s Best Wild Animal Encounters

There is no time like the present to squeeze into an epic escape. While you’re at it, you can also level things up with some action-packed animal encounters. Fortunately, there is no shortage of great wildlife-focused excursions waiting to be discovered across the United States

These adventures range from mild to wild—and no, we don’t mean heading to the nearest zoo. So whether you’re trying to get away before the leaves start to change, or plan more in the future, these animal encounters are sure to impress. From high-octane excursions to educational experiences, there is something for every type of traveler.

The best animal encounters for wildlife lovers

Picture of an elk trumpet.
Visit Estes Park

1. Become an elk expert in the Rockies

One of the best times to visit Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park From late August until October. The 265,000-acre park not only exploded in a dazzling display of fall foliage, but it also coincides with the mating season for the area’s huge elk population. Officially known as “Erot”, visitors can gain first-row access to a file Elk Root Safari With yellow wood routing. Spend an epic evening with a personal nature guide to learn how to interpret subtle body language cues and get theatrical commentary on root activity. Binoculars and spotting scopes are also available to view everything, and this garden Provides the perfect base camp to try it all.

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Humpback whale out of the water in California

Humpback whale out of the water in California Mike Doherty / Unsplash

2. Go whale watching off Avila Beach

When it comes to whale watching, California is the absolute splash zone. The Golden State offers plenty of places to see the horns of migrating whales, but for a guaranteed view, head over to it San Luis Obispo County And book an intimate experience with Avila Beach whale watching. Group tours are limited to six people to ensure unobstructed viewing during the two-hour trip. Expect to see these playful creatures slap their tails and pounce in between snacking on local anchovies. Here, the best times to hump while seeing are from May through November.

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Image of a cowboy on a horse chasing a herd of buffalo.
South Dakota travel

3. Experience Brief Report on Custer State Park Buffalo

Want to go where the buffalo roam? Then head to South Dakota. Custer State Park It is the perfect place to spread out and reconnect with Mother Nature. Explore the 71,000-acre wilderness gardens, punctuated by jagged granite peaks, rolling plains, and crystal-clear mountain waters. The park is also home to one of the largest herds of publicly owned bison in the world, numbering over 1,400. The best time to see these magnificent beasts is during the year Custer State Park Buffalo Newsheld on the last Friday of September. Visitors will experience the rumble of the ground as teams of cowboys and park crews roam to fetch the resounding herd.

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Family diving next to baby sharks.
Discovery Cove

4. Go swimming with the sharks

Orlando’s vast amusement parks attract crowds of tourists from all over the world, but those looking for unforgettable animal encounters away from the crowds should plan a visit Discovery Cove. The all-inclusive day garden (capacity of approximately 1,300 visitors per day) provides a tropical getaway suitable for the whole family. Guests can interact with dolphins, flamingos, stingrays, exotic birds and more. But the most exciting adventure is Swimming experience with shark. During the program, participants will gain a deeper understanding of different shark species (including nurse sharks, zebra, blackhead sharks, and blackhead sharks) before getting dressed and swimming with over 20 sharks. Even better, a portion of all proceeds supports Jay Harvey Ocean FoundationWhich conducts scientific research and develops educational programs aimed at preserving the marine environment.

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Many, many bats fly around the entrance to the Volcanoes Cave in Texas.
Jonathan Alonzo

5. Look at the Bracken Bat . Flying Experience

From March to October, the world’s largest bat colony meets in Bracken Cave. Cave was purchased by BAT Conservation International In 1992 it was established as Bracken Cave Preserve – covering approximately 1,500 acres. Located 20 miles east of San Antonio, Texas, it is estimated that 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost in the cave. Every evening, the colony soars in the sky and forms an ominous vortex cloud. This gathering is a must-see wonder and represents the largest known concentration of mammals on Earth. Those wishing to enjoy the magic of the night can visit the reserve and participate in Volcanoes Butt Flight Experience.

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A lone wolf trotting across a field.
Paul Brown

6. Track down the wild wolves in Yellowstone

There is a reason Yellowstone National Park It is known as the “American Serengeti”. The 3,500-square-foot park is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states—but nothing is as elusive as a wolf. Those looking to find these top predators while hunting in their snowy natural environment can join the winter season. Wildlife trips organized by Teton School of Science. Participants will ride custom-built Mercedes-Benz snowmobiles, while expert guides explain the park’s unique geothermal features. Tracking wolves in the area is very productive during the winter months and peaks in February during the breeding season throughout Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

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A man in a canoe takes a photo of a moose, very close.
Northwoods Outfitters

7. Join Moose Safari in Maine

Northern Maine boasts the largest population of moose in the contiguous United States (they are also the official state animal). The best way to approach and engage with these majestic creatures is through a moss safari With Northwoods Outfitters. Adventurous people can choose between a hiking safari or a water experience in a kayak or canoe. Trace through the dense forests and towering mountains of the Mosshead Lake District as you learn from the experienced team of local guides.

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sled dog
Robert Galondo/Unsplash

8. Get a taste of the Iditarod

If you’ve ever fantasized about wandering the frozen and isolated landscapes of Alaska, you’re in luck. Live your dreams of sledding with dogs black tomato and customizable Alaska: The Iditarod Experience Itinerary. Meet a group of huskies in action as you learn the ropes of becoming a pilot. Along the way, participants will help race through crucial road junctions on the official track and get a unique opportunity to harness and race their very own dog team. Other adrenaline-filled Alaskan adventures on the trip include ice climbing, rafting, heli-skiing, and snowboarding.

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Hundreds of permanent sandhill cranes.
Visit Nebraska / Rowe Sanctuary

9. Watch the Migration of Sandhill Crane

Bird watchers to enjoy in The Ian Nicholson Audubon Center at Rowe Preserve It is located in Gibbon, Nebraska. Each spring, an estimated 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population converges in Nebraska’s Platte River Valley. The stopping point is used to rest and refuel as they migrate once a year from Mexico, Texas, and New Mexico to the breeding grounds of Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. During Guided Crane Viewing Tour, people can watch the birds perform elaborate courtship rituals, which include wing stretching, head pumping, and other carefully executed dance moves. It also provides Overnight photography experience For photography enthusiasts looking to take pictures of this time-honored tradition.

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A small sea turtle struggles towards the water.
sea ​​island

10. Go on an educational outing with the sea turtles

Sea Island is the perfect escape away along the southeast coast of Georgia. Home to Five Star Forbes Sea Island Resort, guests can join the nature team at Dawn of the Sea Turtle Patrol. Explore the entire length of Sea Island’s pristine beach at sunrise while patrolling nesting and hatching sea turtles on their way to the Sargasso Sea. Doesn’t he get up early? Don’t worry – they deliver too Teaching sea turtles and night walks which begins later in the evening. Learn all about the fascinating life cycle of the endangered and endangered sea turtle species that nest along this enchanting area of ​​the Atlantic coast.

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