America's 59 national parks encompass widely varied environments—arid deserts, rocky mountains, thick forests, glittering lakes—that, together, contain some of the world's most diverse flora and fauna.
The best national parks for spotting wildlife come with an abundance of species. Yellowstone's 2.2 milliom acres are home to roaming bison, elk, and moose—not to mention the occasional mountain lion, hopefully spotted from afar. The Everglades' complex ecosystem—a swampy terrain of mangroves, marshes, and pinelands—breeds a variety of land- and water-based animals including crocodiles and alligators, flamingoes and egrets, slow-moving manatees, and endangered Florida panthers. Alaska's parks are favored by a variety of cold-weather-loving creatures, from the bald eagles of Kenai Fjords to the orca whales in Glacier Bay to the grizzly bears of Katmai. And some of America's most adaptable species—horned lizards, rattlesnakes, roadrunners—call the barre, desert landscape of Arizona's Saguaro their home.
The parks also feature an equally impressive range of plant species, including some found nowhere else on earth. The largest trees in the world flourish in the old-growth forests of California's Redwood and Sequoia National Parks, while the distinctive bristlecone pines that live in Utah's Bryce Canyon are some of the oldest. From the wild forests of Denali to the dust and rocks of Joshua Tree, each landscape is a portal into another natural world. Here, we highlight 11 of the most noteworthy wild inhabitants of our national parks.