• National Parks

Best National Parks for Wildlife Spotting

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park two Nene Geese by Ohelo Berries
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Getty Images/Perspectives

You don't need to go on safari to see wild creatures up close—just head to one of these U.S. national parks.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, HI

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Isolation, a volcanic landscape, and a tropical climate have given this 323,400-acre park an unsurpassed number of endemic species; more than 90 percent of the plants and animals here are found nowhere else on earth. The park is best for spotting birds, including the nēnē (the state bird, a goose), ‘io (Hawaiian hawk), honeycreeper, and white-tailed tropic bird (which nests in the walls of volcanoes). Other highlights include carnivorous caterpillars, giant Hawaiian darners (the country's largest dragonflies, with a wingspan of about six inches), and hawksbill turtles.

Viewing Tip: Nectar feeders, like green-yellow ‘amakihi and bright-red ‘i‘iwi honeycreepers, flock toward flowers—but since they stop to sip only fleetingly, you'll need to be patient and alert to spy them.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park two Nene Geese by Ohelo Berries

Best National Parks for Wildlife Spotting

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, HI

Isolation, a volcanic landscape, and a tropical climate have given this 323,400-acre park an unsurpassed number of endemic species; more than 90 percent of the plants and animals here are found nowhere else on earth. The park is best for spotting birds, including the nēnē (the state bird, a goose), ‘io (Hawaiian hawk), honeycreeper, and white-tailed tropic bird (which nests in the walls of volcanoes). Other highlights include carnivorous caterpillars, giant Hawaiian darners (the country's largest dragonflies, with a wingspan of about six inches), and hawksbill turtles.

Viewing Tip: Nectar feeders, like green-yellow ‘amakihi and bright-red ‘i‘iwi honeycreepers, flock toward flowers—but since they stop to sip only fleetingly, you'll need to be patient and alert to spy them.

Getty Images/Perspectives
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