Thursday, November 17, 2016

5 Great Day Hikes to See Wildlife

Bison on Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley
Big Fork Ridge Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Day hikers can see a rare herd of elk on the Big Fork Ridge Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 3.6-miles round trip segment of this popular trail sits in the Cataloochee Valley of the park’s North Carolina section. Early morning and dusk during autumn marks the best time to catch the elk and their antics. 

Everglades National Parks Wildlife
Day hikers can spot a variety of exotic animals at Everglades National Park. Located in the only section of the United States mainland that is considered subtropical, the national park is home to panthers, crocodiles, manatees, alligators, great blue herons, egrets and a variety of migratory birds. Two great hikes to safely see such wildlife are the Bobcat Boardwalk and the Anhinga Trail.

Buckhorn Trail
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Families can day hike to a large prairie dog town via the Buckhorn Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Though little visited, the western North Dakota park offers several great trails featuring fascinating geological formations and fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. Of the latter, the prairie dog town – a 2-mile round trip – is the highlight of many travelers with children.

Chapin Creek Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
A great hike to take in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Chapin Creek Trail, which offers opportunities to see moose and elk on a primitive path. It can be hiked about 1.6-miles round trip to the creek crossing or 6.6-miles round trip on a mostly backcountry route to the Poudre Trail.

Lamar Valley Trail
Yellowstone National Park
Day hikers can explore the “Serengeti of North America” on the Lamar Valley Trail at Yellowstone National Park. Like the mountain-ringed African plain, Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley serves as home to the classic megafauna that define North America. Bison, elk, grizzlies, black bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles, osprey and more all can be found there.

BONUS: Animal attacks on hikes a statistical oddity
Injuries from animals are rare but do occur on hikes. Here's how to avoid becoming one of those statistical oddities.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks series.