As civilization continues to spread its own wings, places to find native wild animals in their natural habitats continue to dwindle. Yet parks and preserves across North America still conserve rich environments—offering great spots for your own packs to experience the wonder of wild animals. Consider these five destinations for your animal lovers.
1. Denali National Park and Preserve
Home to the highest mountain in North America, Denali National Park and Preserve's 6 million acres provide habitats for animals living in myriad elevations. Groups could find forest and tundra, along with glaciers, rock and snow.
As such, a healthy population of grizzly bears and black bears live here, as well as herds of caribou, moose and Dall sheep.
And then there are gray wolves, marmots, wolverines ... The list goes on.
2. Everglades National Park
When we say "Everglades," you say "alligators." Yet not all the animals in Everglades National Parks have sharp teeth. Here, groups will find 36 federally protected animals—including the American crocodile and most of the remaining Florida panthers living in the wild. But there are also several species of sea turtles, as well as the West Indian manatee.
3. Grand Teton National park
Elk. Bison. Bighorn sheep.
Wolves. Grizzlies. Mountain lions.
Grand Teton's mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers and skies present the perfect opportunity for a North American safari. Groups could explore 200 miles of trails, or float along the Snake River. The park also has a rich cultural history, with old homesteads and cattle ranches to explore.
4. Reserva Mariposa Monarca
Monarch butterflies' tiny wings are far from frail. According to the USDA Forest Service, monarchs are the only butterflies known to make a two-way migration. Some fly as far as 3,000 miles from the United States and Canada to central Mexican forests.
It takes several generations of butterflies to complete a single migration, but the butterflies know the way, every year.
The Reserva Mariposa Monarca (Monarch Butterfly Reserve) was established to protect the butterflies and the forests they winter in. Millions of monarchs flock here, from late October to early November. When butterflies hatch in May, they make the trek back to their native lands.
5. Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge
Not to pigeonhole the area, but Yazoo National Wildlife Refugee is for the birds. Named for the Yazoo Native American tribe, the refuge's mission is to provide waterfowl and other migratory birds in the Mississippi Flyway with a habitat for nesting, feeding, brooding and resting.
Your groups can find plenty of pigeons in cities, but Yazoo's 14 ponds welcome species such as white ibis, glossy ibis, little blue and great blue herons. It's a great bird watching destination.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.