When it comes to ecotourism, states like Alaska, Florida, and Hawaii have gained worldwide fame for their high levels of biodiversity and famous species wealth, but there is a world of potential waiting to be explored across the United States. While each state is home to its own unique collection of flora and fauna, certain regions are often overlooked when it comes to wildlife tourism, serving as ideal destinations for those who prefer a vacation that gets off the beaten path. While planning your next cross-country trip, don’t miss out on these five ecotourism destinations across the United States.
Nebraska It is famous for its agricultural prowess, but behind the endless rows of cornfields, there is a wealth of wildlife to discover throughout the state. While the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is perfect for spotting bison, elk, and other famous herbaceous mammals, avid birders should make sure to time their visit to the annual sand crane migration, one of the planet’s most fascinating natural wonders. From February to April, nearly a million birds descend on the Platte River to refuel before migrating north, with the Roe Preserve and the Crane Trust Nature Center and visitors ample opportunity to witness this fascinating process firsthand.
Measured in 1,214 square miles, Rhode Island It is the smallest state in the USA – and despite its small stature, there is a surprisingly large range of native species to discover within its borders. In the interior of the state, destinations such as the Great Swamp Management Area and the Audubon Caratunk Wildlife Refuge are ideal for spotting native New England birds such as cedar waxwings, yellowtail grouse, and oriental woodland bewes. For those looking for one of the Ocean State’s most beautiful residents – the harbor seal – be sure to make a winter visit to Rome Point, a picturesque coastal reserve north of Narragansett.
North Dakota It may be one of the most densely populated states in the country, but all that wide open space leaves room for a plethora of local wildlife. Once pushed to the brink of extinction, the majestic American bison has made a triumphant return to the plains of the Peace Garden State, where the famous Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to several hundred animals along with elk, antlers, and prairie dogs. In the state’s eastern reaches, the Devils Lake Wetland Management Area serves as an important stopping point for migratory birds, attracting snow geese, pintails, northern scoops, and a wealth of other waterfowl during the migratory season.
Are you looking for a new eco-tourism destination in the southern United States? Don’t miss the sprawling Mississippi State, equipped with more than 60 miles of coastline. during a trip to Mississippi CoastVisitors can head to the Alabama border to find the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, an 18,000-acre expanse of salt marsh and pine savannah teeming with native birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Just west of the preserve, the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for more than just the name itself, as native magnolia species such as the hog frog, Henslow’s finch, and eastern fence lizard are all within the preserve’s boundaries.
West Virginia Famous for its abundant natural beauty, all those rivers, valleys, and mountains are home to a wealth of Appalachian flora and fauna. While there is no shortage of wildlife-rich destinations across the Mountain State, the Monongahela National Forest is certainly one of its most impressive natural features, with its 920,000 acres of second-growth dense forest. Famous birds like the masked merganser, ruby-throated hummingbird, and red-tailed hawk are just a few of the species that call the area home, while mammals range from bobcats to beavers to West Virginia’s state animal – the black bear.