Whether you live in a major city or a more rural area, chances are that your day to day interactions with animals are generally limited to domestic species, common birds, and the odd encounter with some native wildlife now and again. So it’s not all too surprising that many of us attempt to incorporate interactions with more obscure creatures into our travel diaries. Perhaps the most common animal-based travel concept on nature lovers’ bucket lists tends to be a safari in Africa. While this is brilliant and something that you should plan if possible, it’s also a good idea to bear in mind that there are other places to visit too! For now, let’s focus on America. The USA isn’t generally renowned for animal centred travel, so hopefully, if we can show you some of the brilliant opportunities that even this region can offer, you’ll open your eyes more to alternative possibilities! So, here are just a few ideas to get you started!
Manatee Encounters in Crystal River, Florida
Manatees, otherwise known as “sea cows” are gentle giants who inhabit Florida’s waters. But the best place to guarantee an encounter with them is the Crystal River. It’s important to bear in mind that manatees are a protected species, so close interaction with them is prohibited in many parts of the state. However, “passive observation” is permitted in Kings Bay, Crystal River. Book with a specialist tour group in order to gain pre-tour briefing and education that will teach you how to best respect these wild animals while gaining the most out of your experience with them at the same time. You will also be provided with high-quality wetsuits and snorkelling or diving gear to ensure a comfortable swim!
Whale Watching and Seal Experiences in San Diego, California
Now, San Diego may not initially strike you as home to any wildlife. After all, it’s the second largest city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States. Sure, it may famously be home to a zoo, but we’re all well aware that these merely exploit animals that should really be living freely in the wild. However, you may be surprised to realise that you can indeed encounter contented wildlife near such a bustling hub of human activity. Book a specialist tour to go whale and seal watching out in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. This way, you can encounter stunning marine mammals in all of their glory while learning new facts and insights from the experienced and qualified crew members guiding you.
Wolf Tracking in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming
When it comes down to it, we’re all a little afraid of the big bad wolf. But don’t let this stand in the way of a distanced encounter with these majestic creatures! Since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone Park in 1995, their population has flourished. It’s not surprising that professionals and casuals alike have begun engaging in the activity of wolf tracking. This is essentially just watching the behaviour and habits of the wolves and their packs from a safe distance. Team up with tour guides who know the ropes. You will meet early in the mornings for meetings in unofficial viewing locations. Swap tips, tricks and anecdotes with others who have an equal love for this often misconceived canine!
Eagle Spotting in Sauk City, Wisconsin
Many of us will have picked up our binoculars at some point or another for a little casual bird watching. But how about filling your sights with America’s national emblem in the flesh and feather? Eagles are stunning birds, but can often be elusive. So your best bets at catching a glimpse of one lie with the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, based in Sauk City, Wisconsin. This grassroots organisation actively works to protect, enhance, and maintain Bald Eagle habitats in the Sauk Prairie area and individuals working here will be able to spot Eagles where many others will overlook them. Take a look at their official website for upcoming dates!
Bear Viewing Tours, Alaska
Over 50,000 black bears and 35,000 brown bears roam Alaska’s untamed wilderness. But if you want to see them, you’re really going to have to go looking for them! Many tours have the specialist knowledge at hand to know where to find the bears and you will often be flown in on a small plane or take a smaller boat. Of course, this comes at a price and bear viewing tours really are one of the more expensive activities on offer in Alaska. However, when it comes down to it and you’re looking at one of these majestic creatures in real life, you’ll soon realise that it’s worth every last cent.
Moose in Baxter State Park, Maine
Now, moose are most commonly associated with Canada. But that’s not to say that the USA is void of them. There are actually plenty of places that you can spot this humble giant, but for an almost guaranteed encounter, visit Baxter State Park in Maine. In fact, there are so many around that they are actually Maine’s official state mammal! Baxter State Park has over 200,000 acres of protected Acadian forest and Appalachian highlands. So pair up with a reliable guide if you do decide to wander into the wilderness. You don’t want to get lost in your pursuits! When you spot one, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking at. They’re huge, have notable muzzles, and extremely long legs. Head out early in the morning for your best chances of encountering as many as possible.
As you can see, the USA really isn’t all too short of wildlife. These are just a few different encounters that you could happily and easily plan, and there are plenty more out there should you have a particular American creature that you’re intent on seeing. Just remember to do your research, work alongside professionals where possible, and stay safe! After all, these animals are wild.