Five Underrated Wildlife Tourism Destinations Across The United States In Honor Of World Wildlife Day


The United States is perhaps best known for its captivating cities that stretch from Honolulu to Boston, but there’s no denying that the country is home to some truly spectacular natural beauty as well. One of the 17 mega-diverse nations States around the world are teeming with a wide array of national parks and protected reserves, many of which are home to a multitude of endemic and threatened species. As we celebrate World Wildlife Day this year, check out some of the country’s underrated destinations that offer spectacular animal experiences.

Honey Island Swamp, Louisiana

Ranging from tiny insects to gargantuan alligators, there’s no shortage of wild creatures to discover in this verdant 70,000-acre swamp mass. While raccoons, wild boars, and great blue herons are a common sight for those exploring the area, lucky visitors may be able to spot top predators sneaking into the swamp, ranging from black bears to cougars. In addition to these legitimate species, fans of cryptozoology should keep their eyes peeled for the elusive Honey Island Swamp Monster, a macabre beast believed to have been lurking in the depths of the swamp since the 1960s. For those visiting the nearby town of the New Orleans, The Slidell Company Cajun Dating Tour Company is the perfect host for a nature trip, offering several boat trips as well as a pick-up service that stops at a wide range of hotels in the French Quarter.

Dana Point, California

A true pioneer of the North American whale watching industry, the coastal town of Dana Point was recently approved by the two World Animal Protection and the World Cetacean Alliance become the first in the country Whale Heritage Site, a prestigious appellation shared with only three other sites around the world. This certification demonstrates the city’s unwavering dedication to responsible and sustainable whale watching, making it a premier choice for ethical wildlife tourism on the Pacific Coast. Winter visitors should keep an eye out for migrating gray whales that surface alongside common dolphins, while summer provides the opportunity to spot the iconic blue whale, the largest living creature on earth. When it comes to booking a deep sea excursion, Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari is hard to beat, offering underwater pods beneath the vessel that offer spectacular views of all the cetaceans nearby.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Measuring around 200 miles, this sprawling chain of barrier islands is best known for its idyllic beaches, but OBX is more than just sand. In addition to shorebirds, sea turtles, and dolphins, the Outer Banks are home to stray herds of wild horses perfectly suited to life on the North Carolina coast. Although horses have lived in the area for centuries, it is not clear exactly how these equines got to the area. A popular theory is that they were brought here by Spanish or English sailors who wrecked along the shore, leaving the beasts to fend for the savage on their own. For all visitors wishing to spot these majestic beasts on a trip to the Outer Banks, be sure to book an excursion with Wild horse adventure tours, one of the region’s most reputable wildlife tourism groups.

Kaktovik, Alaska

Located in remote northern Alaska, this small community is home to just over 200 people, but is an especially popular destination for those hoping to spot polar bears in their natural habitat. Given its incredibly remote location, most visitors choose to travel to Kaktovik with Northern Alaska Tour Company, a Fairbanks-based organization that offers a multitude of forays beyond the Arctic Circle. Guests who embark on the Polar Bear Expedition will be treated to spectacular views of the Alaskan landscape before arriving in the small town of Kaktovik, where they will board a small ship to venture to the search for the largest terrestrial carnivore on the planet. While there is no shortage of fascinating wildlife experiences in Alaska, seeing one of these enormous beasts in the wild is a truly rewarding experience.

Custer State Park, South Dakota

A renowned gem of biodiversity within the Great Plains of North America, this 71,000-acre reserve is one of South Dakota’s most popular destinations for those hoping to spot iconic American wildlife. While there are a plethora of species to encounter throughout Custer State Park, by far the most acclaimed is the American bison, the heaviest land mammal on the continent. About 1,400 of these majestic creatures inhabit the park, but that’s not all there is to see around Custer: the park is also home to cougars, American antelopes, prairie dogs, a large assortment of deer and even wild donkeys. Affectionately referred to as “Begging Burros,” these wild equines have developed an affinity for visiting humans and often approach their cars in search of snacks. If you’re still looking for more pristine Dakota natural beauty after a trip to Custer, head east to Badlands National Park to encounter some truly amazing geologic formations.

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