A pair the bison hang out in the snow at Yellowstone national Park, among the joined States" ideal spots to check out the vast mammals. William Campbell/Corbis

When it concerns safaris, most world travel come Africa to watch the continent’s “big five”: lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos. However what numerous travelers might not establish is the the united States supplies equally impressive opportunities to limit out large mammals in the wild, including 4,000 lb elephant seals and the biggest bears in the world. You simply need to understand where to go. 

“A lot of people don’t realize the there space pockets of places across the United claims with significant wildlife,” Jason Williams, owner the Jackson hole Wildlife Safaris, speak Smithsonian.com.

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Williams, a experienced wildlife photographer who has actually been top wildlife tours in Yellowstone national Park and Grand Teton national Park in Wyoming for much more than a decade, states there’s certainly danger in seeking out huge animals in the wild. But there’s delight, too—as long as residential safari-goers remember to respect the animals and their surroundings.

“Pay fist to one animal’s human body language and its demeanor,” the says. “Remember, you on that is turf now. And for your very own safety, don’t obtain too close.”

Here’s a watch at few of the country’s largest mammals and also where to see them in the wild.

Gray Wolf

The gray wolf or timber wolf"s range includes Alaska and also parts that Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and also Wyoming. Adults can devour 20 pounds that meat in one sitting. F. Lukasseck/Masterfile/Corbis

In the love of Wyoming’s Yellowstone national Park sits Lamar Valley, house of the Lamar Canyon wolf pack. Despite the pack is deep within the park, the journey is fine worth the effort. It’s one of the ideal places in the lower 48 to view gray wolves in the wild, says Williams. He explains that due to the fact that the wolves’ habitat is in a protected area, the pets are slightly less fearful 보다 ones life in open searching zones. That also translates come a greater probability that spotting among these elusive critters—about 95 in all.

Alaska is another state wherein gray wolves roam wild. The Alaska room of Fish and Game approximates that between 7,000 and 11,000 wolf live there. Denali national Park & Preserve, located about five hours north the Anchorage, has one that the greatest concentrations of wolves in the state, though that population has lessened to that is lowest suggest in history. Researchers issue that hunting, which was introduced in 2010 come the area surrounding the park, can potentially bring about a to decrease in the population. According to one recent survey, roughly 50 wolves have been spotted in the park.

Grizzly Bear

at once there were an ext than 50,000 grizzly bears in north America. This day that number has actually fallen come an approximated 1,800 in the reduced 48 states and also 31,000 in Alaska. André Gilden/Nature in Stock/Corbis

Yellowstone is also prime grizzly be afflicted with country. Much more than 800 of this lumbering giants speak to the park and also its bordering area home. The best time to watch them is throughout the warmer months as soon as they’re no hibernating—typically native June with September. To assist reduce human effects on the bears, the park has created a perform of be affected by each other management areas outlining which components of the park are open to visitors. 

Want to see some of the biggest grizzlies top top record? Head to Katmai nationwide Park & Preserve, a far wilderness area spanning more than four-million acres in southern Alaska. The park is house to some of the biggest grizzlies top top record, v males weighing up to 1,000 pounds. The best spot to check out them is at among the 3 overlooks in ~ Brooks River, whereby bears congregate every summer come hunt for salmon. Katmai posting a graph of when and where in the park to view them, and additionally offers park-ranger-led hikes.

North American Bison

Weighing as much as a ton, bison when roamed throughout much of the joined States. This particular day this lumbering giant can be uncovered predominately in the open plains of Yellowstone nationwide Park in Wyoming. James Hager/Robert Harding/Corbis

North American Bison (also well-known as buffalo) are the largest mammals in north America, with mature bulls weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Previously this year, chairman Obama signed one act naming them the main mammal that the unified States. Among the best places to watch these huge creatures is in the badlands that Theodore Roosevelt national Park in western north Dakota, which has a controlled population of roughly 750. Often, bison deserve to be spotted hike alongside the national park’s roads.

About 270 miles south sits Custer State Park, an additional prime ar for bison viewing, through a populace of around 1,300. The right time to visit is throughout the annual Buffalo Roundup (this year’s event will it is in on September 30), when, as part of populace control efforts, cowboys corral the thundering animals which can reach speeds of approximately 35 mph. 

Polar Bears

Polar bear can additionally be spotted in Alaska and elsewhere in the Arctic Circle. They"re the biggest carnivorous floor mammals ~ above the planet. Cordier Sylvain/Hemis/Corbis

Although the vast bulk of polar bears live deep within the Arctic Circle, plenty of can be discovered in the circle’s southern reaches, specific Alaska. Around 900 polar bears reside follow me the shores that the Beaufort Sea within the Arctic national Wildlife Refuge, but the populace is continually threatened due to unfavorable ice cream conditions and lack of prey, follow to research published in the journal Ecological Applications, and also its population has remained in limbo for much more than a decade.

However, you can still view the the majestic white bears, v the prime window being between August and also October, as soon as the area is predominately ice-free and the bear aren’t denning. Look tough enough, and also you might even view one wandering through the village. Numerous outfitters in the nearby seaside village the Kaktovik offer polar be affected by each other tours. However make sure to keep safety in mind, as these bears may show up cute and cuddly, but they room predators.


Moose are the largest relatives come deer and can be discovered in the north reaches the the united States and in Alaska. Donald M. Jones/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Moose have a variety stretching from coastline to coast, but one that the densest areas to spot one is in north Michigan. Situated on one desolate island just east of the state’s northern tip in Lake Superior, Isle Royale nationwide Park is well-known for a moose populace that numbers in between 700 and also 1,200. Throughout the summer, the park stop its annual Moosewatch Expedition, i m sorry is open to the public and also includes lot of weeklong camping explorations to assist study and also analyze the island’s hearty population.

Another state with a thick herd is Maine, which has actually a population of roughly 75,000 the the antler-bearing mammals. Some areas of the state space so desolate the locals joke the moose outnumber humans, yet one place in particular, Baxter State Park, in the city of Millinocket, is rife v moose. Throughout the summer the park supplies “Moose Passes” on a first-come, first-served communication to help control human contact.

Humpback Whale

Humpback whales can consume up to 3,000 pounds the food a day, which contains plankton and tiny fish. Paul Wolf/iStock

A puff of s spray hurled into the sky is frequently the very first signal the humpback whales are present listed below the ocean’s surface, and also one that the ideal places to watch these magnificent creatures in the wild is off the coastline of Hawaii. During the winter months, these aquatic giants, which can reach 15 feet in length, have actually completed their migration native the Arctic Circle down to their reproduction grounds about Hawaii. The Hawaiian archipelago Humpback Whale National marine Sanctuary approximates that 21,000 humpbacks winter there every year.

But that’s no to say the humpbacks can’t be spotted somewhere else in the unified States. Plenty of congregate in the Gulf of Maine in the northeast, and the facility for coastal Studies catalogs sightings the tagged whales, even giving them names prefer Daffodil and Putter. Although much less common, there have been instances where humpbacks take trip farther south. Because that example, this summer caused several eyewitness accounts of whales turn off the shore of brand-new Jersey.


Cougars require plenty that room come roam and also often require a range of 30 square miles, which castle share with only a few other cats. Visceralimage/iStock

Also well-known as mountain lions, pumas and panthers, cougars are the largest wild cat in phibìc America. An approximated 30,000 live in the west United says in locations like California, Arizona and also Texas, follow to the mountain Lion Foundation. (There’s also a small, endangered subspecies of Florida panthers life in the swamplands and pinelands the Florida through a populace of about 100.) most recently, cougars to be spotted in Tennessee because that the first time since the early on 1900s.

Unlike various other land mammals that travel in groups, these predators space solitary and will proactively avoid their other felines unless they’re looking to mate. They’re additionally shy around humans, so see one in the wild is normally sheer happenstance.

Kodiak be affected by each other

Kodiak bears generally hibernate as much as eight months the end of the year. Roclwyr/iStock

Some 12,000 year ago, brown bears moved from Alaska come the Kodiak Archipelago, a group of islands the trickles under from the mainland. They’ve occupied this lush, mountainous region ever since. This day the Kodiak bear, a subspecies the brown (grizzly) bears, is flourishing with a populace numbering about 3,500 and also growing, according to the Alaska department of Fish and Game.

Kodiaks are taken into consideration the largest bears in the world, tipping the scale at 1,500 pounds (grizzlies, by comparison, sweet a just 600 pounds), and like their furry cousins, hibernate up to eight months the end of the year. In various other words, your chances of spotting one in the wild are highest possible in the summer. One of the finest places to check out them is at the Kodiak Brown Bear facility on Kodiak Island, which has a team of guides the lead teams to be afflicted with viewing spots approximately the island that space a safe street from the bears.

Northern Elephant Seal

northern Elephant Seals deserve to weigh up to 4,000 pounds. Dgwildlife/iStock

With a variety that stretches from Baja California north to the Gulf of Alaska, elephant seal swarms are often a acquainted sight in coastal areas, where hundreds of individuals lounge and also stretch their enormous bodies on beaches and also rocky outcroppings follow me the shoreline. During breeding season every spring, males, which deserve to weigh approximately 4,000 pounds, can be heard from great distances bellowing to gain a potential mate’s attention. However, throughout the remainder of the year (except for when they’re molting), elephant seals spend their time far from the coast and in the ocean.

One that the finest places to check out them in the wild is at the Año Nuevo State Park, a reproduction beach just north of Santa Cruz whereby numbers float in the low thousands. 

Florida Manatee

Florida manatee greatly reside in Florida"s crystal River. Dtamarack/iStock

Peering down from a kayak as manatees lazily drift follow me Crystal River, a human body of freshwater that’s a nationwide Wildlife Refuge in west Florida, is just one of the finest ways to see these herbivores in the wild. Numerous operators offer tours - some also put girlfriend in the water v these tenderness giants, yet tourists activities can likewise put these gentle giants in danger, frightening them into colder water which deserve to prove deadly to this temperature perceptible mammals. Adhere to every wildlife city hall restrictions, give the animals space and perform not feed or touch them under any circumstances.

According come the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, about 600 manatees contact Crystal river home during the winter. The number shrinks to about 30 in the summer, as soon as most migrate as much west together Texas and as much south together Cuba. Part have also been spotted turn off the shore of Massachusetts, and can make it through in both freshwater and also saltwater habitats.

Pacific Walrus

Pacific Walrus are well-known for their ivory tusks and can be discovered in Alaska. Zanskar/iStock

The Chukchi Sea’s shallow waters do it suitable feeding ground because that Pacific walruses and other mammals who congregate in this an ar of northern Alaska during the winter months. The U.S. Fish and also Wildlife company estimates their populace to be anywhere between 55,000 and 507,000. Although walruses deserve to swim short distances, they spend the majority of your time relaxing ~ above sheets of ice in between foraging trips. However, a 2012 study by the U.S. Geological inspection concluded the the icy zones that walruses count on for survive are quickly disappearing as result of climate change.

In an answer to their changing habitat, walruses should scramble to uncover a clues on dried land in a habits that is recognized as “haul outs.” every spring, 2,000 to 10,000 masculine walruses haul out on the seven small, isolated archipelago in Bristol Bay the make up Walrus archipelago State game Sanctuary. Access to the remote islands is by allow only; luckily, the walruses are likewise viewable through live internet cam, 24/7. 

Planning on seeing some of the country"s biggest mammals? below are wildlife overview Jason Williams’ city hall tips:

Do your homework. Research the areas of animals’ habitats prior to hitting the road. If see grizzly bear is at the optimal of her bucket list, realize the the finest time to watch them is in the summer when they’re not hibernating.

Hire a guide. Wildlife guides can educate you about particular animals and also their habits, and also know just where to walk to view them.

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Respect the animals. Remember the you’re on your turf. If an animal starts backing away, enable it some space to mitigate its stress.