The allure of spotting wildlife is among the top reasons to visit the outdoors. Your first view of a creature you’ve never seen before is at once an inspiring and magical experience, and one that stays with you. While the less-traveled hiker might assume wild animals and exotic birds are around every corner, the regular trailblazers know what a rarity these occurrences actually are.
As their natural habitats shrink, so does the wildlife population. You can hike forests where grizzlies used to roam freely, though they have now been hunted to the point of endangerment and have had their territories shifted further north. You can wander trails that see only a fraction of the deer and elk they used to. The sad fact is that our wild areas are always becoming less wild. Which is why taking a moment to appreciate them as they are today is so vital to our understanding of the natural world.
All over the country stewards of the land have fought to create national parks, refuges, and other protected areas to prevent the extinction of species and the exploitation of natural resources. Because of generations of hard work and preservation, there still exist a fair number of places you can go to step out into the wild and see landscapes as they were meant to be and have been for thousands of years.
The Northwest and Northeast in particular contain an abundance of wildlife, and parks devoted to their protection. Along the West Coast you can see families of sea lions and otters, while elk, grizzlies, and black bears roam the landscape further north. Inland, Yellowstone National Park remains a pillar of the North American ecosystem, providing wide open spaces for bison and bears to roam. On the East Coast, deer, bear, fox, and wild cats still inhabit many of the wooded areas, and protected marshlands and bird sanctuaries exist to protect rare species of birds and insects. Here are a few places to guide your wildlife adventures. Remember to follow park guidelines on safe food storage and educate yourself on safe behavior and proximity to these animals before visiting. It's often humans that put animals and their habitats in danger, and reading up in advance can go a long way toward keeping these amazing places wild.
William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, East Coyote Unit
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Fisher Butte Unit
Sea Lion Caves
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Royal Amazon Unit
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Applegate Unit
We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We strive to provide inspiration and supporting information on incredible adventures to make it easy for you to get outdoors and explore new places. We understand that life is busy, but we strongly encourage you to make time for outdoor recreation on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To keep you inspired all year, we've put together a list of 52 geologic features and adventure themes. Check them out and join us in our #52AdventureChallenge!