There are 419 units in the National Park Service (NPS) system and they are among the best places to watch wildlife in the United States. We previously ranked our Top 10 places for spotting wildlife among the 62 National Parks, so this is the best of the rest. Click here to check out all of our Top 10 lists.
10. Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri)
There are many fish-eating birds all along these floatable rivers, plus beavers.
9. Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas)
Wildlife in this diverse preserve ranges from alligators to roadrunners.
8. Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (U.S. Virgin Islands)
There is no dry land within its acreage, so expect many tropical fish and other mangrove residents.
7. Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)
Feral horses are one of the main draws to this remote section of the Atlantic Coast.
6. Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)
The Gulf Coast is a great place for white-tailed deer and sea turtles, but watch out for Portuguese man-o-wars.
5. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park (Hawai‘i)
There is good snorkeling just outside the park where sea turtles are commonly seen.
4. Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts)
Gray seals attract great white sharks, so swim at your own risk.
3. Big Cypress National Preserve (Florida)
Alligators and Florida panthers are among the residents of this wild section of the Everglades.
2. Buck Island Reef National Monument (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Possibly the best coral reef in the entire NPS system surrounds this tiny island.
…and finally our #1 National Park Service sites for wildlife watching:
1. Point Reyes National Seashore (California)
Tule elk have been reintroduced here, plus watch elephant seals and gray whales in the winter.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (Maryland)
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to this swampy park.
San Juan Island National Historical Park (Washington)
Tide pools are a big attraction to this park’s 6.1 miles of protected shoreline.
Buffalo National River (Arkansas)
Bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons make this a dangerous place to be a fish.