Everyone loves animals, right? Well, maybe not everyone, but I think it’s fair to say that most people have a soft spot for at least one type of animal out there—be they cats, dogs, elephants or anything else one could possibly name.
That being the case, the appeal of spotting some kind of animal other than their household pet has drawn even the most reclusive and tech-reliant of humans out of their caves and into the world for many years now. People of all ages and creeds are drawn to zoos across the world to spot some of the wonderful creatures that lie within, but some take it even further. For some, the only ethical and logical way to go about spotting one of the plethora of undomesticated species out there is to find them in the wild—and what better way to do that than to visit a national park or preserve?
Looking to go on your own personal safari? Try these national parks and preserves.
All information courtesy of the National Park Service.
1. Grand Teton National Park; 2. Everglades National Park; 3. Theodore Roosevelt National Park 4. Biscayne National Park; 5. Redwood National Park
Natalie Wickstrom is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia. She most likely wrote this piece to the tune of a movie score whilst chewing gum.
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Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Grand Tetons teem with wildlife. The some 310,000 acres that this park is comprised of rests in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and is a part of one of the last remaining temperate ecosystems on this planet. In this particular climate, a wide variety of animal species are able to migrate to different areas according to the seasons. One can glimpse anything from a black bear and a herd of bison to a golden eagle cutting through the clouds, and it'll almost feel as if one has been transported back to a time when such animals reigned sovereign over the land.
Amit Patel, CC BY 2.0
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Everglades National Park, Florida
Unlike many other national parks in the U.S., the Everglades was first established to preserve the vast ecosystem as a habitat as opposed to simply protecting the scenery. The preserve is well-renowned for its vast variety of animal species that have adapted to subtropical environments and temperate climates. In particular, the number of reptile and amphibian species that can be seen in and around the Everglades is on-par with what one might glimpse in an untouched tropical wetland. In addition to the animal species, the Everglades is also home to some of the most endangered and well-protected plant species of any national park.
Carolyn Sugg, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Thanks to its abundance of native grasses, this park provides sustenance to a great deal of grazing animals—both large and small—that make their home here. In addition, the diversity of habitats offered in this park attracts a wide variety of birds—which contributes to the estimated 186 different species of birds that pass through the park each year. Not only do the grassy plains make for good grazing territory, but they also give way to badlands and scores of microclimates that are teeming with life. Though few amphibians make their home here, you're almost guaranteed to spot a bison—or an entire herd—while they're making their way around.
Matt Zimmerman, CC BY 2.0
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Biscayne National Park, Florida
Comprised of four distinct ecosystems, Biscayne is, perhaps, the most colorful of the bunch. The rich edge communities—or "ecotones"—created by the layout of the park supports a beautiful array of wildlife, including hundreds of species of fish that can't be found in any other part of the country. Pelicans, manatees and sea turtles are also some of the visitor favorites that draw large crowds—especially given that the park is situated right on the fringes of a bustling urban area.
fraktus, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Redwood National Park, California
The ecological diversity of Redwood is world-renowned—enough so that it was deemed a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. Visitors can find bald eagles, Roosevelt elk and California sea lions, possibly even sighting them all in one day. In addition to the plethora of land and marine mammals available for spotting, one could also enjoy a relaxing picnic beneath the humongous Redwood trees for which the park was named.
Theo Crazzolara, CC BY 2.0