• National Parks

Best National Parks for Wildlife Spotting

California Sea Lion at Cape Alava, Olympic National Park, Washington
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Getty Images/Minden Pictures RM

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

Olympic National Park, WA

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Olympic's diverse ecosystems include glacier-topped mountains, rainforests, and 73 linear miles of Pacific coast. The park protects the largest population of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest, plus snowshoe hares, Columbia black-tailed deer, Olympic marmots (found nowhere else in the world), newly reintroduced fishers (cat-size members of the weasel family), and underrated bright-yellow banana slugs. Near the shore, you can spot seals, sea otters, sea lions, and—between March and May—migrating gray whales.

Viewing Tip: Columbia black-tailed deer congregate in Hurricane Ridge; elk are common on Upper Hoh Road.

California Sea Lion at Cape Alava, Olympic National Park, Washington

Best National Parks for Wildlife Spotting

Olympic National Park, WA

Olympic's diverse ecosystems include glacier-topped mountains, rainforests, and 73 linear miles of Pacific coast. The park protects the largest population of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest, plus snowshoe hares, Columbia black-tailed deer, Olympic marmots (found nowhere else in the world), newly reintroduced fishers (cat-size members of the weasel family), and underrated bright-yellow banana slugs. Near the shore, you can spot seals, sea otters, sea lions, and—between March and May—migrating gray whales.

Viewing Tip: Columbia black-tailed deer congregate in Hurricane Ridge; elk are common on Upper Hoh Road.

Getty Images/Minden Pictures RM
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