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Looking for Wildlife? Try One of These 6 Wild Drives

Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.

By: Jon King + Save to a List

When exploring near wildlife, it's important to remember that we are visitors in their homes. Always take care not to disturb or harm them or the areas they live. Check out our favorite wildlife biologist Imogene Davis' stories for more information on best practices when interacting with wildlife.

Encountering wildlife can be one of the most exciting experiences of outdoor adventuring. Often, the easiest (and safest) ways to view the wild can be from the comfort of your own car. Although a sighting is never guaranteed, the areas surrounding these 6 drives are known to have an abundance of wildlife.

1. Lamar Valley

Driving through Lamar Valley in Yellowstone’s northeastern section is an adventure in itself. Herds of bison often create unexpected road-blocks. Grizzly bears, coyotes and pronghorn frequent the area. In Lamar, you’ll also have the best chance to see wolves. Luckily, there are several pullouts along the road making it easy to stop and gaze into Yellowstone’s wildest area. Pick one, wait a while and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

2. Trail Ridge Road

Not only is the scenery along Trail Ridge Road second to none, it also gives you a great chance to see wildlife. The road runs from the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake on the park’s west side. It climbs above the tree line to the Rocky Mountain tundra giving you a chance to see a variety of plants and animals. Keep your eye out for elk, bighorn sheep, marmots and pikas just to name a few.

3. Boxley Valley

Just south of Ponca, Arkansas along Hwy 43 and into Hwy 21 is the beautiful Boxley Valley. Along with stunning Ozark Mountain scenery, Boxley Valley is also home to Arkansas’ largest elk herd. They are best viewed in the early mornings and evenings. To make your experience even more spectacular, visit between September and mid-November for a chance to witness the fall rut surrounded by the Ozark’s peak fall foliage.

4. Cades Cove

This 11 mile, one-way loop in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a photographer’s dream. Along with its gorgeous views, Cades Cove gives you an opportunity to see black bear, white-tailed deer, turkey and much more. Note: The road is open from sunrise to sundown daily. Only bicycle and foot traffic are allowed on the loop road until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September per the National Park Service.

5. Antelope Flats

Antelope Flats Road is one of Grand Teton National Park’s wildest drives. The area is frequented by moose, pronghorn, elk and bison. Furthermore, it intersects with the famous Mormon Row which offers some of the most magnificent views in the park. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to see anything wild, the scenery will more than make up for it.

6. Bow Valley Parkway

Although traveling through Banff National Park via Hwy 1 (Trans Canada Hwy) is quick and efficient, your chances of viewing wildlife are slim to none. The road is protected with high fencing on either side and utilizes under/overpasses for wildlife crossings. Instead, take the more scenic Bow Valley Parkway. This stretch of road parallels Hw1 from Banff to Lake Louise and gives you a great chance of seeing Banff’s unique wildlife including grizzly bears, black bears and elk.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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