Overlooked Wildlife Experiences in Our National Parks

Think of wildlife in U.S. national parks, and certain images pop to mind: Bears. Bison. Elk. Wolves.

All spectacular critters, to be sure. But the National Park Service protects a wide range of wildlife, large and small. Some of these species are cryptic or elusive. But other smaller denizens offer fascinating viewing opportunities.

For example, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known as “The Salamander Capital of the World.” More visitors come to this national park than any other, but most will miss these noted biological treasures: salamanders. Great Smoky Mountains is home to dozens of species of these amphibians.

The area is particularly important for lungless salamanders. As their name implies, they lack lungs – they “breathe” through tiny blood vessels and linings of their nose and throat. They are especially diverse in the Smokies.

Want to go salamander spotting? The best bet is to hike as far as you can away from the crowds. Please don’t disturb rocks or vegetation, but watch quietly on wet, spring days when the creatures are most active. If you just sit still near wet rocks, they will almost come to you.

More wildlife here…


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