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Where to See Wild Animals Out West

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Click on the State to Jump to the Animals There
Just over the border in other regions

Alaska and Hawaii have so many animal-watching places they would embarass the other states by being on the same page.


Semi-wild bison herd, bear, moose elk
seals and sea lions CA
San Francisco Pier 39 Sea Lions
Up to 900 huge sea lions just showed up right in a major city
gray whales
Entire Oregon Coast
25 free spots on shore to see gray whales migrate by 2x/year
coati mundi AZ
Chiricahua National Monument
Rare U.S. habitat for coaits, also bear
Canyon Ferry Dam
500 bald eagles 20 minutes from Helena
where to seUtah
Antelope Island State Park

500 bison on an island just outside Salt Lake City

Grays Lake
1,200 Sandhill Cranes, the most in the U.S.
White River National Forest
50,000 elk
Carlsbad Caverns
400,000 bats
Puget Sound Whale Trail
Orcas cruise coastal Washington State and can be seen from shore



AZ Arizona

coati mundi


Chiricahua National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument is one of the few places in the U.S. where Coati Mundis have been documented for decades. While sightings aren't reliable, park rangers say you have a better shot in winter in the lower canyon.
Coatis, which look like a cross between a racoon and the Hamburgler, are opportunists and omnivores. They are charismatic and not above begging for food.
Known locally as Chula, the coati range through much of Central and South America. In the United States, they've been spotted for more than a century along the Rio Grande in Texas and in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.
The Mammals of Texas says Coatis "are only rarely known from Brownsville to the Big Bend region of the Trans-Pecos. They have been reported from Aransas, Brewster, Cameron, Hidalgo, Kerr, Maverick, Starr, Uvalde, and Webb counties."
13063 E. Bonita Canyon Rd., Willcox, AZ
(520) 824-3560

coati mundi



SW Wildlife Rehab & Education Foundation

The Southwest Wildlife Rehabilitation & Educational Foundation rescues, rehabilitates and (whenever possible) releases sick and injured wildlife. They treat black bear, javelina, coati and anyone who needs their help.
Educational programs and tours.
8711 E Pinnacle Peak Rd # 115
Scottsdale, AZ (480) 471-9109

coati mundi
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum allows visitors to see bats, roadrunners, barn owls and hawks. There's also a chance you might see ringtails, coati, ground squirrels, bighorn sheep and javelina.

2021 North Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ

Directions, Hours & Rates Phone: (520) 883-2702
Ajo Way Bat Culvert, Tuscon, AZ
The culvert under the intersection of Ajo Way and Park Avenue houses thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. Except for in winter, they fly out just before dusk.
House Rock Wildlife Area - Bison
A herd of about 200 bison live at the House Rock Wildlife Area, which is managed by Arizona Game and Fish. Lately these bison have been behaving like animals--they've been migrating into the Grand Canyon. That totally messes with the Grand Canyon's plan, so they round up the bison to keep them out of the national park. Who would want to see one symbol of the west in another anyway?
The reason is that the parks service has decided that since "NPS has found no direct evidence that bison were native to the Grand Canyon in the last 1000 years. In general, non-native species will not be introduced into parks, stated Joe Alston, Park Superintendent."
Then, of course, they want to sell the wayward bison for slaughter or hunting.
I guess no one in the parks service ever read Playing God in Yellowstone, about the folly of managing wildlife to the absurd standard of pre-white man.
Verde River Eagles - AZ
Arizona has about 50 pairs of breeding bald eagles, mostly on the lower Verde River. Eight pairs live on the Verde River between the Bartlett Dam and Salt River.

Arizona wildlife officials say that in winter they can be found on Mormon lake, Upper and Lower Lake Mary, and on San Carlos Reservoir.
Here's a great map of nesting locations.
Arizona has a program to watch eagle nests so that no one disturbs them.
The state frequently closes areas near the nests to protect the birds, too.
Prescott National Forest Eagles - AZ
Prescott National Forest in Arizona has many eagles living around Lynx Lake. In fact they close some trails part of the year to give the eagles some privacy.
(928) 443-8000
gila monster

Navajo Nation Zoo - AZ

Started in 1962, the Navajo Nation Zoo and Botanical Garden takes care of animals native to the Navajo Nation who cannot survive in the wild. The only Native American zoological facility in the United States, they take care of black bear, bobcats, elk, porcupine, gila monster, eagles and chukar.

CA California See a fuller list of wildlife spots in CA
seals and sea lions
San Francisco Pier 39 Sea Lions
Since 1990 a group of sea lions has been hanging out on the docks of Pier 39 in San Francisco. Other places may have worked to evict giant creates, which intimidated boat owners, but this dock welcomes the sea lions, which draw many tourists.
The Marine Mammal Center runs an interpretive center on the second floor. Winter is the best time to visit; that's when up to 900 sea lions, mainly males, will sun themselves and jockey for a good spot. In the summer it may only be a couple dozen because the rest have gone off to mate in the Channel Islands.

seals and sea lions

Children's Beach, San Diego

The Children's Pool Beach attracts harbor seals and California sea lions. The area has been a site of contention: it's one of the best places to see seals in the country, but thanks to a lawsuit of a former resident, San Diego is spending $700,000 a year to try to remove the seals. Stay tuned.
850 Coast Blvd
La Jolla, CA (858) 221-8884

Point Reyes National Seashore
A herd of 400 Tule Elk roam the Tomales Point (fenced) preserve at Point Reyes National Seashore. About 30 are free in the Limantour wilderness area. This small, light subspecies of elk, which only exists in California, was almost hunted to extinction.

1 Bear Valley Rd., Point Reyes Station, CA (415) 464-5100

Tule Elk at Point Reyes National Seashore - CA
A herd of 400 Tule Elk roam the Tomales Point (fenced) preserve at Point Reyes National Seashore. About 30 are free in the Limantour wilderness area. This small, light subspecies of elk, which only exists in California, was almost hunted to extinction.

1 Bear Valley Rd., Point Reyes Station, CA (415) 464-5100

gray whales
Santa Barbara Blue & Gray Whales
Blue whales, the largest creature on earth ever, migrate by Santa Barbara each summer. It's the biggest concentration anywhere. You can also see gray whales move up and down the coast in winter and spring.
Condor Express has $48-$98 cruises and a handy schedule of what you might see in each month. 301 W Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, CA (805) 882-0088

seals and sea lions
Elephant Seals at Point Reyes National Seashore -CA
Elephant Seals returned in 1970s to Point Reyes National Seashore. A breeding colony returns to Chimney Rock every December-March.
1 Bear Valley Rd., Point Reyes Station, CA (415) 464-5100

farm sanctuary
Animal Place (Farm Sanctuary) - CA
This accredited animal sanctuary and education center offers farm tours at various times throughout the year. Check their schedule here: The tours are generally $10, $5 for kids. Around the holidays there's a tour for carnivores to meet their meet for $10; vegetarians go free. 3448 Laguna Creek Trail Vacaville, CA (707) 449-4814
Red Crowned Amazons of Claremont - CA
Red Crowned Amazons, natives of the tropics of Mexico, live in loud, sometimes seasonal colonies. According to the amazons of Claremont and Pomona are refugees of the overcrowded colony in Temple City, CA
Temple City Red-crowned Parrots
More than 1,000 Red-crowned parrots live around Temple City, CA. Temple City Park is a likely place to find them. They roost near Golden West St. and Daines Dr., according to one Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society field report. Lilac-crowned parrots, also call the area home.
Temple City Park, 9751 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, CA
Elkhorn Slough Sea Otters
The Elkhorn Slough is one of the best places in the world to see otters. Almost three-quarters of California's 3,000-some sea otters live in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which includes the Slough. You can see them on boat or kayak tours. The Slough (pronounced Slew) is a massive tidal salt marsh that's home to both saltwater and freshwater creatures, including sea otters, tiger sharks and bat rays.  Herons and egrets have a rookery in the northern marsh.
1700 Elkhorn Road
Watsonville, CA (831) 728-2822
Bakersfield, CA, Rose-ringed Parakeets
Bakersfield has the country's largest colony of Rose-ringed Parakeets, according to researcher Alley Sheehy and Nature Alley. The parrots roost near Union Ave. and California Ave, but have nest throughout the city, especially in parks.
Wolves-N-Wildlife - CA
Wolves-N-Wildlife is an educational facility in the mountains that has gray wolves, a black bear and a siberian tiger. Tours available for school groups and private parties.
2550 S Mountain Rd. Fillmore, CA (805) 524-0781
California Raptor Center at Davis
The California Raptor Center, part of UC-Davis' vet school, researches raptors, promotes conservation, rehabilitates about 200 injured raptors each year. They offer public education through field trips to see birds in the wild and school and other group tours of the center. (No public hours). Plenty of volunteer opportunities.
The Center is off Old Davis Road, south of 80, past the railroad tracks. Take a left at the Y in the road. (530) 752-9994


Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue

Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue has about 200 wild horses they've rescued just about 90 minutes from Los Angeles. You can visit and tour this huge facility they gentle the horses for potential adoptions. They are also setting up the Born To Be Wild Sanctuary near Twin Oaks to let the horsesroam free, especially the ones that have lived wild their whole lives and fear humans. The group is continually rescuing horses, saving hundreds at auction that would have gone to Mexico for slaughter. 230809 E Avenue J, Lancaster, CA 661-727-0049




Long Beach Whales & Dolphins
See enormous blue whales June-fall. See gray whales when they migrate by in the winter and spring. See bottlenose, common and risoo dolphins other times.
Harbor Breeze Cruises leaves from Rainbow Harbor, 20 miles south of LA.
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA



Monterey, CA Whale Watching
Just south of San Francisco, you can take a 4-5 hour cruise into the Monterey Marine Mammal Sanctuary. In the winter (Dec.-April) you may see the huge migration of gray whales. The rest of the year there are seals, sea lions, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Dolphins, Killer Whales.
Monterey Bay Whale Watch run by a marine biologist, 84 Fishermans Wharf
Monterey, CA
seals and sea lions
Pacific Marine Mammal Center
The Pacific Marine Mammal Recovery Center advocates for seals and sea lions and does hands on work caring for orphaned or injured marine mammals.
They offer a one-hour, $25 behind the scenes tour.
Pacific Marine Mammal Center Laguna Beach, CA (949) 494-3050

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
A colony of wild cherry-headed parrots live on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Stars of the 2005 movie Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and book by the same name.
Telegraph Hill is off Lombard Street near Kearny Street.
basset waddle
Basset Rescue of Central Calfornia Waddle
Basset Rescue of Central California holds an annual waddle in Memorial Park, which is at the intersection of 18th Avenue and Sierra Street.
Lindsay Wildlife Museum - CA
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum treats sick, injured and orphaned wildlife at a huge hospital and rehab facility. Animals who can't be released stay, including bobcats, owls and eagles. 1931 1st Ave, Walnut Creek, CA (925) 935-1978
California Wolf Center
The California Wolf Center is home to several packs of gray wolves. They work on wolf conservation, research and public education. Visitors get to meet some of the wolves in a program every Saturday. The center houses a secluded pack of endangered Mexican Wolves to aid in the recovery effort.
1800 Highway 78, Julian, CA (760) 765-0030

seals and sea lions


SF Bay Whale Watching
Right out of San Francisco, you can hop on a boat for an all-day trip to the Farallon Islands and marine sanctuary. You'll pass lighthouses, and possibly see migrating gray whales, puffins, sharks who come to eat seals and sea lions.
Gulf of the Farallones Natural History Tour, 10 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, CA (415) 331-6267
San Diego Green Amazon Parrots
A flock of Green Amazon parrots can be seen near Ocean Beach in San Diego. Check out these pictures of them from City Parrots.
Catalina Island Bison
A herd of about 200 bison roam Catalina Island off Los Angeles and no one is sure where they came from. National Geographic shot down the theory they were extras in a movie.
The herd grew from 14 to 600 at one point and the Catalina Island Conservancy worried they were demolishing the habitat.
In 2009 they went on PZP (Porcine Zona Pellucida) birth control, the kind recommended by the HSUS.
Bonus species: fox (which are getting out-competed by feral pigs), golden eagles (which eat the pigs), and Beechey's ground squirrels

Golden Gate Park
Right in San Francisco a small herd of bison roam Golden Gate Park. Actually they're in a paddock run by the zoo.
CO Colorado

White River National Forest - CO

The Gardener Recreation Area near Yampa in White River National Forest has so many elk, administrators close off the interpretive trail from mid-May to mid-June during calving season. Field and Stream ranked this as the number three elk hunting ground in the country, so the viewing can't be bad either. Outdoor Life reported that White River has the highest population in the state--51,000--followed by Bear's Ears region of the Routt National Forest and  San Juan National Forest

Mission Wolf - CO
Mission: Wolf cares for 40 wolves and wolf-hybrids that couldn't make it in the wild. They pride themselves on their priorities: "wolves first, education second and paperwork last." But they eagerly welcome visitors who hope to learn about wolves.
13388 County Road 634, Gardner, CO
Vail Nature Center
The Vail Nature Center has plenty of bird walks, but one of their most interesting offerings is a 90-minute  beaver tour Monday and Thursday nights. There's a talk, then you drive out to an active lodge. 601 Vail Valley Dr Vail, CO (970) 479-2279
Birds of Prey Foundation
The Birds of Prey Foundation near Boulder takes in injured, sick or orphaned raptors and tries to nurse them to health and release. Those that can't be released are on hand for their annual open house for members. They occassionaly have other educational events. 2290 S 104th St., Broomfield, CO (303) 460-0674
Moose Visitor Center - CO
Moose really do hang out near the Moose Visitor Center. The center is really for people to visit the blandly and confusingly named State Forest State Park near Gould, CO.

Piceance Basin Elk and Deer - CO
Deer and elk come down from the surrounding mountains to winter in Piceance Basin.
Extensive oil drilling may threaten the deer and elk, which has hunters upset. They've gotten the federal government, oil and hunting interests to spend $6 - 13 million over the next decade to study the impact on deer hunting.

Rocky Mountain National Park - CO

Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the pioneers in elk restocking. Yellowstone sent them 25 animals in 1914. The herd has grown to 3,000 in the summer and 1,000 in the winter. 

The most dramatic viewing is during the September rut, when the elk gather at Kawuneeche Valley (near Grand Lake), Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, and Upper Beaver Meadows. Trails may be closed. You're meant to stay in your car and keep quiet. Bonus species: mountain goats, moose (especially along Onahu Trail), Abert's squirrel, Wyoming ground squirrel, black bear (rare), marmot and beaver. (970) 586-1206
Denver's Barr Lake Eagle Watch
Bald Eagles first built at nest at Barr Lake in 1986 and then had chicks in 1989. The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has a chart to explain the 8-month eagle breeding and chick-raising season. They recommend viewing from the gazebo, a 1.3 mile walk south of the center into the refuge.
Colorado now has more than 30 breeding pairs.
The bird observatory has volunteers watch and monitor the nest from January to July.
Eagle Watch

Sandhill Cranes Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge has the country's largest population of greater Sandhill Cranes. Up to 1,200 cranes nest at the refuge. The cranes hatch in early June.
74 Grays Lake Rd., Wayan, ID 208-237-6615

Wolf Education & Research Center
The Wolf Education & Research Center  (WERC) teaches the public about gray wolves on on the Nez Perce Reservation.  The center offers regular tours in the summer and special educational experiences, such as wolf tracking.
518 Joseph Ave., Winchester, ID (208) 924-6960
World Center For Birds of Prey, Boise
The World Center for Birds of Prey is the public education center for the Peregrine Fund, which works to save many species of birds of prey (not just peregrines). They have programs around the world. They have raised California Condors and Aplomado Falcons in the U.S.
The center has daily visiting hours with hands-on exhibits and a daily falconry history tour.
5668 W Flying Hawk Ln., Boise, ID (208) 362-3716
Idaho Bird Observatory
The Idaho Bird Observatory, just outside Boise, studies and helps conserve western migratory birds. Boise Ridge is one of the few migration hot spots in the west and gets large numbers of hawks, songbirds and owls in the fall.
The hawkwatch runs from late August until the end of October. This non-profit unit of Boise State University invites visitors to see songbirds mid-July through mid-October. In late September to late October they do owl banding.

Take Hwy 21 north from Boise. About 3 miles past the top of Lucky Peak Dam, turn left onto Highland Valley Road, follow signs to the center for about 5 miles. The site in the trees just below the radio tower. (208) 426-4354
Boise Bald Eagle Day - ID
Every January the Idaho Bird Observatory and Audubon volunteers help run Eagle Days at Barber Park, with live bird demonstrations and walks to see eagles in the wild.
4049 S Eckert Rd., Boise, ID (208) 577-4575
New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns Bat Cave
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has housed hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats for 5,000 years. The big dusk fly-out at the cave entrance out can last hours.
3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM (505) 785-3012

Kaibab Plateau, Grand Canyon

Kaibab Squirrels, which are black with white tails and tufted ears,  live only on the Kaibab Plateau. Once thought their own species, they are now considered  a subspecies of the Abert's Squirrel.

El Malpais Lava-Tube Bat Cave - NM
El Malpais National Monument hosts a nightly fly-out of bats from a lava-tube cave.
(505) 783-4774, 123 East Roosevelt Ave, Grants, NM
Midwinter Eagle Watch near Albuquerque
The Army Corps of Engineers leads a Midwinter Eagle Watch in early February at the Abiquiu Lake and Dam. In 2008 they spotted nine eagles here. Other counting spots in the area include Elephant Butte and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
4731 State Highway 96, Abiquiu, NM, (505) 685-4371



Bandelier National Monument - NM
Bandelier National Monument is home to Abert squirrels, which are black with a white belly and tufted ears, and a colony of 10,000 Mexican free-tail bats  roose in the cave above Long House on the Main Loop Trail.
Los Alamos, NM (505) 672-3861

NV Nevada
Virginia City, NV Wild Horses
Nevada tourism officials say the Virginia Highlands around Virginia City is a good place to try to see them off rout 341. "The horses are seen in meadows high in the mountains, at about the 6000-foot level.  They are not always visible."
Nevada has more wild horses than any other state. The Bureau of Land Management estimates there are about 15,000 wild horses and 800 wild burros in Nevada. However that doesn't make them easy to see. Mustangs4us gives a good review of what the state offers.
Dayton, NV Wild Horses
Nevada tourism officials say U.S. 50 running east out of Carson City to Dayton is a good place to see the horses grazing or running through the sagebrush.
Nevada has more wild horses than any other state, thousands of animals in hundreds of herds. The Bureau of Land Management estimates there are about 15,000 wild horses and 800 wild burros in Nevada. However that doesn't make them easy to see. Mustangs4us gives a good review of what the state offers.
Animal Ark Sanctuary - NV
The Animal Ark Sanctuary takes in native and exotic animals that don't have the skills or physical ability to survive in the wild. Residents include black bears, wolves, owls and many big cats (cheetah, tiger) and small cats (bobcat, lynx,). It's one of the few places to shelter a badger. It started in 1980 and expanded into an 80-acre destination for field trip and families. $8 adults, $6 kids and seniors. Tours April-Oct, plus one winter day.
1265 Deerlodge Rd. Reno, NV  (775) 970-3111
MT Montana
Canyon Ferry Dam Eagles - MT
Up to 500 bald eagles visit the Canyon Ferry dam 20 minutes from Helena to fish on their southern migration in the late fall. The dam and visitor's center recommend coming early morning and late afternoon from late October to mid-December.
7700 Canyon Ferry Road, Helena,  MT 
(406) 475-3310
National Bison Range
National Bison Range got one of the first herds of buffalo after they were reintroduced by Teddy Roosevelt and the American Bison Society. Between 370 and 500 roam on the 18,500 acre prairie.
Bonus species: Elk, deer, pronghorn, black bear, coyote and ground squirrels
58355 Bison Range Road, Moiese, MT  (406) 644-2211
Wolfkeep Wildlife Sanctuary
Wolfkeep Wildlife Sanctuary
keeps a pack of nine arctic wolves and one gray wolf. They have different activities throughout the year to teach the public about wolves and let people be near the wolves. They offer photo sessions, research opportunities, sweat lodges.
23545 Mt Highway 200 E, Bonner, MT (406) 244-5207

OK Oklahoma
Bat Watch at Alabaster Caverns State Park - OK
The Alabaster Caverns State Park hosts summer Bat Watch tours to see up to one million Mexican free-tailed bats fly out of the Selman bat cave. Reservations required, though there is some viewing in the rest of the park.
BAT WATCH: (405) 424-0099
Hwy 50 & Hwy 50-A, Freedom, OK (580) 621-3381


OR Oregon
Oregon's 26-location land-based Whale Watches
The Whale Watching Center is HQ to Oregon's incredible "Whale-Watching Spoken Here" effort that plunks volunteers on 26 coastal locations during the peak weeks to see migrating gray whales. In late December whales head south; in March they head back. But you might see them anytime. (541) 765-3304
They also provide a list of charter planes and boats.
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Ilwaco, Washington 
  1. Ecola State Park   
  2. Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101 
  3. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint   
  4. Cape Lookout State Park  - 2.5 mile hike to site at tip of Cape
  5. Cape Kiwanda 
  6. Inn at Spanish Head  Lobby on 10th floor 
  7. Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint 
  8. The Whale Watching Center/Depoe Bay Sea Wall
  9. Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint 
  10. Cape Foulweather 
  11. Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area 
  12. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
  13. Don Davis City Park 
  14. Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center  
  15. Cook's Chasm Turnout
  16. Sea Lion Caves Turnout - large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel 
  17. Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park 
  18. Shore Acres State Park   
  19. Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint   
  20. Cape Blanco Lighthouse, near Cape Blanco State Park 
  21. Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford 
  22. Cape Sebastian   
  23. Cape Ferrelo 
  24. Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon   
  25. 9th Street Beach, Crescent City, California 

White Wolf Sanctuary
The White Wolf Sanctuary allows 8-10 pure arctic wolves to roam over 40 enclosed acres. These animals are injured or abandoned and can't make it in the wild. Private tours available.
Tidewater, OR
(541) 528-3588
Siuslaw National Forest
The Siuslaw National Forest has Roosevelt Elk, the biggest subspecies. Field and Stream ranks this rainy park along the Oregon coast as a top hunting area.
4077 S.W. Research Way, Corvallis, OR (541) 750-7000
Cascades Raptor Center, Eugene, OR
The Cascades Raptor Center just outside Eugene, OR, is open for visitors six days a week throughout the year (plus Monday holidays), with demonstrations on weekends. Volunteers here rehabilitate 150-200 birds a year. Some that can't make it in the wild become permanent residents and total over 60 birds of 33 species of native birds, from pygmy owls to bald and golden eagles.
32275 Fox Hollow Rd., Eugene, OR (541) 485-1320
Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary - OR
Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary takes in injured wild wolves and wolves people tried to make into pets, then abandoned. The Labat family also gives daily tours to educate the public.
555 Davidson Rd., Williams, OR (541) 846-8962
Cutler Marsh
Cutler Marsh near Newton, UT, is one of a few places in the state you might see Sandhill Cranes. This marsh, which is south of Newton, has trails and washrooms. Viewing is best in spring, summer and fall. The Brigerland Audubon says the cranes are found in the wetlands and fields around the marsh

Ogden Nature Center
Ogden Nature Center is a privately run nature preserve that's open to the public. Wood duck, herons visit. Porcupines live here. $4/adults The site used to have a wildlife rehabilitation center, but that's moving to portion of the vacant Carol Conroy Browning-Ogden Animal Shelter at 1490 Park Blvd. will then become the home of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.
966 West 12th St., Ogden, UT (801) 621-7595
Onaqui Herd Management Area, West Valley City, UT
The Onaqui Herd Management Area has one of the biggest herds of wild horses in Utah--up to 275 horses. The Bureau of Land Management wants to cut the herd down to 70 to 120. Most are descendants of escaped ranch horsees.
According to MUSTANGS 4 US, the area extends from Johnsons Pass south to Look Out Pass. Wild horses can be seen on the bench and flat areas along the east and west sides of the mountain range.
2370 S 2300 W, West Valley, UT
White Pine Lake - Pika
White Pine Lake, in the middle of the Unita-Wasach-Cache National Forest outside of Salt Lake City, is a likely spot to look for pika. These little rodents that look like wild gerbils were considered for the endangered species list in 2010 but rejected. Utah says it appears in a few of the high elevation areas in the state and comes out during the day above the tree line. Here's a map of where they live in Utah.
(801) 236-3400, Cottonwood, UT
Bridal Veil Falls
This 600-foot waterfall used to have a tram to see mountain goats. An avalanche destroyed the tram in 1996, but the area has been built up nicely. The falls are on the Provo River Parkway Trail and in the Unita-Wasach-Cache National Forest outside of Provo. Mountain goats still peak down from the cliffs sometimes.


unusual bird

Strawberry Valley
Sandhill cranes visit the Chicken Creek West and Chipman Creek areas in May and June--the same time that cutthroat trout spawns and sage grouse mate gather near Stinking Spring, says the Utah Wildlife Viewing Guide. Strawberry Valley is on the east side of Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest  Bonus species: Elk, mule deer, pelicans.


Lucerne Valley Campground
Antelope are known to wander into the Lucerne Valley Campground, which is very popular with fishermen, family campers and birders. It's in Ashley National Forest and right on the Wyoming - Utah border. Here's list of viewing spots.
Bighorn sheep were reintroduced and can be seen along the Sheep Creek Geological Loop.
Bonus species: yellow-bellied marmot, mule deer, snowshoe hare

Ashley National Forest office, 355 North Vernal Ave, Vernal, UT (435) 789-1181

George Lake - Cranes and Eagles
The fields around George Lake and Dinosaur Monument have attracted up to 4,000 Sandhill Cranes on their spring and fall migration, Wasatch Audubon says. Bald eagles spend the winter here, too.
Snow Canyon State Park
The poisonous Gila Monster is very difficult to find, but Snow Canyon State Park is one of the few places it still exists. April-May are the peak of their activity in Utah, Tom Webster, of thee Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, (another likely spot) told Brett Prettyman of the Salt Lake Tribune. Look for tracks in the sand. Watch out for rattlesnakes and scorpions.
The park was created to protect the Desert Tortoise
Bonus Species: Hummingbird



Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve was created after the desert tortoise was declared threatened in 1990. The Nature Conservancy says this is the area has the densest population of the desert tortoise. That doesn't mean they're easy to spot, though. They've also gotten transplants of rare Mojave desert tortoises.
Bonus Species: Gila Monster, Road Runner
60,000 acres overlapping with Snow Canyon State Park (435) 634-5756



Zion National Park
Zion National Park is more known for scenery but it's got ringtails, condors, eagles and an unusual kind of squirrel.
Ringtails are a raccoon relative. They come out at night on the high cliffs, so few people get to see them.
California condors sometimes appear at Lava Point, Canyon Overlook, and Angels Landing. Audubon found 42 roosting just outside the park, which is an Important Bird Area.
Rock Squirrels live in rocky canyons.
Mexican spotted owls breed here.

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve
Sandhill cranes mate and nest in Utah. A Wild Bird Center nearby leads tours to Nature Conservancy's Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, which has a visitor's center. The birds have quite a mating dance, though you may have to see them from behind a fence.
Bonus species: sage grouse
Henry Mountain - UT - Bison
The remote Henry Mountains State Park has a herd of about 200 bison. You may be able to see the bison "along the South Summit Ridge of Mt. Ellen during the summer," park officials say. The park brags that this is " only free-roaming and huntable herd of American bison in the 48 contiguous United States." They issue permits to hunt 44 each year.
Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island State Park could be called Bison Island. Even before Teddy Roosevelt started preserving buffalo, two Utahns, William Glassman and John Dooly,  brought bison to this island in the Great Salt Lake 1893.
Now the publicly owned herd is managed to stay at 550. Every fall they're rounded up, sorted and if there are more than 550, they're either sold to slaughter or to hunters.
The park is really close to Salt Lake City, but you have to go up to Layton to drive there.
Syracuse UT 801-773-2941
WA Washington

Whale Trail

Whale lover Donna Sandstrom was always sad that people didn't know they could see orcas right from the shore on the coastal waters of Washington State, including the Salish Sea. So she corraled a bunch of agencies to post the Whale Trail--15 sites around the area where you can see marine mammals at various times of year. The sites are getting signs and later volunteers to show you what to look for. They're free and don't disturb the whales.

Lime Kiln Point State Park is one of the best places in the world to see whales from the shore. Orcas visit the west side of the San Juan in the summer.

Read our interview with Sandstrom

Check out the Whale Trail

Puget Sound Orcas

San Juan Islands are one of the starting points to see Orcas in Puget Sound. Be sure to pick a reputable guide; some in the area crowd these whales.

Most near the ferry terminal on Friday Harbor. Vessels range from kayaks to big tour boats.
Scamper Charters uses a restored 1920 boat, 685 Spring Street, 877-314-3532.


Orcas Island Eclipse Charters has a biodiesel boat that may pass Spieden Island, home to European Fallow Deer, Sitka Deer and Moufalon sheep, which were introduced and now protected. $72 360-376-6566

Wolf Haven International - WA
Wolf Haven International rescues wolves from Gray Wolves, Red Wolves and Mexican Gray Wolves from inappropriate homes such as zoos or homes where they are kept as pets.
Wolf Haven offers regular tours, lectures and workshops.
3111 Offutt Lake Rd SE, Tenino, WA (360) 264-4695
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area - WA
Washington State's Department of Fish and Wildlife counts about 1,000 moose, mostly in the northeast corner of the state. The sprawling Lake Roosevelt National Recreaton Area is one place they're definitely found, especially by Kettle Falls and Wilbur.
1008 Crest Drive, Coulee Dam, WA
Yacolt, WA
The Yacolt community is rallying to save a colony of quaker (or monk) parrots after Clark Public Utilities and the USDA took down their nests (which were on transformers) and euthanized several birds. The Yacolt Parrot Preservation Association had some success convincing the utility to install orange (undesirable to parrots) shields on the transformers and building tall (desirable to parrots) nest boxes in supporters yards.
Destruction Island Sea Otters - WA
Destruction Island, off the shore from Olympic National Park, has the highest concentration of sea otters in Washington. According to a Washington State 2005 survey about 300 of the state's 800 sea otters live  on Destruction Island. They were re-introduced from Alaska in 1970 after the native population disappeared. Part of the closed-to-visitors Washington Island NWR, you can only see the otters from boat or kayak. Kent, Washington, has otter sightings on shore.
The state survey found: "The current sea otter range in Washington extends from just south of Destruction Island on the outer coast to Pillar Point in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with concentrations in the vicinities of Destruction Island, Perkins Reef, Cape Johnson, Sand Point, Cape Alava, and Duk Point. A few individual sea otters have been seen in Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands as well as along the Oregon coast."

Yacolt Quaker Parrots - WA
The Yacolt community is rallying to save a colony of quaker (or monk) parrots after Clark Public Utilities and the USDA took down their nests (which were on transformers) and euthanized several birds. The Yacolt Parrot Preservation Association had some success convincing the utility to install orange (undesirable to parrots) shields on the transformers and building tall (desirable to parrots) nest boxes in supporters yards.

Grand Coulee Dam (WA) Bald Eagle Festival - WA
Up to 300 bald eagles winter around Grand Coulee Dam. You can see them from November to March. In early February the mating flights begin. In mid-February the Grand Coulee Dam Bald Eagle Festival brings in expert spotters and live bird demonstrations.
The Audubon volunteers advise that the
main roosting area is the south, pine-covered wall of Northrup Canyon, a part of Steamboat Rock State Park.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the park built an Eagle Viewing Site along the road that accesses Northrup Canyon off of
State highway 155, about 7 miles South of Grand Coulee. A trail leads to the viewing site.
(800) COULEE-2   (800) 268-5332
Coeur d’Alene Eagle Week
Wolf Lodge Bay in Coeur d’Alene Lake attracts bald eagles fishing for Kokanee salmon in the winter. The local paper reports that eagles are also spotted in many nearby lakes, too. Idaho offers this helpful map of where to look. Or you can get a tour on a boat.

Skagit Bald Eagle Festival, Rockport, WA
The Skagit River Interpretive Center is a great place to see bald eagles who spend November to January in the area feeding on dead salmon. The eagles are especially active in morning and their numbers peak around Christmas. In January the center holds eagle talks. They also provide a great map of other places to see eagles in the area.

Howard Miller Steelhead Park

52809 Rockport Park Rd Rockport, WA (360) 853-7626

Mt. Rainier Elk
Mt. Rainer was set up as a national park to help save the game animals, especially the elk. The park now has two species: native Roosevelt wapiti (Cervus elaphus roosevelti), and elk introduced from the Rocky Mountains (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) according to this Elk Study.
They like the meadows just below the mountains.
All summer Gray Lines offers day trips to the park from Seattle.
Bonus species: bobcats 360-569-2211
Seward Park Mitred Conures - WA
Seattle's Seward Park has a colony of Chapman's mitred conure and scarlet-fronted conures, according to the Friends of Seward Park. The birds roost on north bluff of Pinoy Hill, but can be found in the Maple Leaf neighborhood in winter.
Seward Park, Lake Washington Blvd and Orcas Street, Seattle


WY Wyoming





Many packs of wolves live in Yellowstone National Park, especially around Lamar Valley. The wolves were re-introduced in 1985 after being wiped out. They are most easily seen in early morning in February, when they mate, but can be seen all year. According to Defenders of Wildlife, wolves bring more than 150,000 people and $35 million to Yellowstone area each year.


The bison herd in Yellowstone National Park moves around so ask the ranger where to go. Sometimes the Hayden Valley is clogged with them. In the winter, they graze in the northern end of the park.


About 800 moose live in and around Yellowstone National Park and move throughout the year. In warm weather they like to eat  in the Willow Park area, between Norris Junction and Mammoth Hot Springs, according to recommends the area south of Canyon and the Lake area, the  Madison and Firehole rivers and the east side of Lamar Valley.


The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center offers a place for injured bears and wolves to live out their lives and educate the public. If you don't see the animals on your visit to Yellowstone, here's your second chance. One block south of the west entrance to Yellowstone Park (800) 257-2570


The nonprofit Yellowstone Institute offers classes in the field. 307-344-2293 


National Elk Refuge - WY

The National Elk Refuge just outside Jackson, WY, is the winter home for about 7,000 elk, who get supplemental feeding here. The range was started in 1912 to ensure there would be enough elk to hunt and so elk wouldn't damage nearby ranches. It's grown to nearly 25,000 acres since then. The refuge offers winter sleigh rides and has an annual Elk Festin Jackson in late May to auction off shed antlers Boy Scouts collected on the refuge.
Bonus species: bison, raven, wolves 
Kelly, WY (307) 734-9378


Yellowstone National Park - WY

Yellowstone has up to 30,000 elk in the summer, the National Park Service says, but their numbers have been declining since the reintroduction of the wolf. The winter population is down to around 7,000 from 18,000 before the wolves' return, a recent study by the Montana State University says.
In the early 1900s the park was managed to maximize elk populations--even though that meant eliminating predators and creating the problem of overgrazing. recommends looking for them near the north gate, headquarters, or in meadows between Mammoth, Norris Junction and Madison Junction and around Canyon Village and Old Faithful.


Flaming Gorge - UT and WY

The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, part of Ashley National Forest, has elk, especially along 44 and 191 and at high elevations along with mule deer.  Antelope live on the Lucerne peninsula. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep live a theSheep Creek Geological Loop. You may find moose by Spirit Lake. Osprey live by Flaming Gorge Dam.

Grand Teton National Park - WY
Grand Teton National Park is the one of the best places to see moose. Most of the Moose around Yellowstone are in the Grand Tetons. You may find them in the willow flat behind the Jackson Lake Lodge, at Oxbow Bend or Christian Pond.
Moose, WY (307) 739-3300


mule deer

Tensleep Preservie - WY
The Nature Consverancy's Tensleep Preserve has elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope and weasels, especially in the winter. 172 bird species visit the area that used to be the Girl Scouts' biggest camp. Open May-Oct. Has mountain lions and spotted bat, but they're almost impossible to see.101 Rome Hill Rd. Tensleep, WY (307) 366-2671
  Just Over the Border
Emory, Texas, Eagle Fest
Each February Emory, Texas, east of Dallas, holds Eagle Fest. Barges and boats count bald eagles in Lake Fork, which has been hit by drought in recent years. They count around 50 birds each year. The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center holds demonstrations. Rains has been declared “The Eagle Capital of Texas.” Tours leave by bus from Rains High School, 1651 W US Highway 69, Emory, TX (903) 473-2222
Badlands and Custer Parks
Custer State Park has a herd of 1,500 buffalo that roam throughout the park. Nearby Badlands National Park has another 400. The local concession runs Jeep tours, some with chuckwagon re-enactments.

The herd is heavily managed. Each September there's a roundup festival. The whole herd is corraled, branded and what are considered excess are auctioned off. In 2007 South Dakota sold 214 bison for about $780 each and nine burros, which go for $166.

The park also has a prairie dog town, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, wild turkeys, and a band of friendly burros.
Peter Norbeck Center, located on Highway 16A, or at the Wildlife Station Visitor Center on the Wildlife Loop 888-875-0001
gray whales
Friendly Gray Whales of Baja California
The curiously friendly gray whales in Charles Siebert's New York Times Magazine piece Watching Whales Watching Us can be found primarily in 3 areas off Baja, California. You may leave from San Diego:
  • Laguna Ojo de Liebre, also known as Scammon’s Lagoon, off Guerrero Negro
  • Puerto San Carlos - Bahia de Magdelena
  • San Ignacio Lagoon
These whales seem to know that the people here are safe and seek out interactions with them. The gray whales migrate to this area from January to March.

BajaQuest says Guerrero Negro was the first whale sanctuary.
According to Moon, you can either arrange a boat for yourself or go out with Malarrimo for $49, which has also has a restaurant and hotel.
Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Buffalo now roam in both the south and north units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Once wiped out, the park took in 29 bison from the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska in 1956 and eventually divided them among the units. Now 200-400 live in the bigger south unit and 100-300 live in the north. The park controls the population.
South Unit (701) 623-4466
North Unit (701) 842-2333
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, right in Ft. Worth, has bison, a prairie dog town and armadillos. The bison are pure and roam almost free.
9601 Fossil Ridge Rd., Fort Worth, TX (817) 237-1111
Caprock Canyons Clarity Tunnel - TX
The Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway has an abandoned railroad tunnel that houses hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. The Clarity Tunnel is on Mile Marker 289 of the Trailway.
Park office is three miles north of Quitaque on F.M. 1065.806-455-1492 PDF Trailway Map here.
Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area
Hardware Ranch feeds huge elk herds in the winter. It's designed so that hunters have enough elk to hunt, but wildlife watchers can enjoy the winter spectacle of 600 Rocky Mountain Elk. It's known for its sleigh rides. The vistor center is closed in summer, but you can still visit and fish. Bonus species: Moose, chukar (435) 753-6206



Fishing % Hunting % Wildlife Watching %
TOTAL U.S. 29,962,000 13 12,534,000 5 71,0068,000 31
AZ 381,000 8 128,000 3 966,000 21
CA 1,694,000 6 318,000 1 5,800,000 21
CO 571,000 16 138,000 4 1,300,000 36
ID 222,000 20 121,000 11 432,000 39
MT 181,000 24 146,000 19 412,000 55
NV 157,000 8 57,000 3 453,000 24
NM 187,000 12 66,000 1 474,000 32
OR 483,000 17 219,000 8 1,266,000 44
UT 326,000 18 145,000 8 580,000 32
WA 702,000 14 194,000 4 2,000,000 40
WY 98,000 24 52,000 13 194,000 48



Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 2006







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