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Updated by Vishal Subramanyan on Mar 20, 2016
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Best Places to View Wildlife in California

California is a very diverse state in terms of wildlife. It has bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and lots of other animals. Here are the best places to view those animals.

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Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

When Point Reyes National Seashore comes to mind, you probably think of beaches and lighthouses. And while there are beaches and lighthouses there, Point Reyes National Seashore contains the largest population of the once thought to be extinct tule elk.

The tule elk was once abundant all over California. But large amounts of hunting drove them to extinction. Or so they thought. One farmer secretly gave refuge to the last herd in Point Reyes. Now the tule elk have been reintroduced to many places in California, but the biggest stronghold for the charismatic tule elk is Point Reyes.

The elk in Point Reyes National Seashore reside in the Tomales Elk preserve. While you can see the elk anywhere in Tomales elk Preserve, to get really up close and personal with the elk, hike the Tomales Point Trail. The elk here are very habituated, and since there are several herds on the trail, you can get really up close and personal with these marvelous animals. When I went I only walked 2 miles in the trail. But we had a male with 7 harems 5 feet of the trail, paying little to no attention to its human onlookers. the herd then crossed the trail and disappeared after we watched them for 35 minutes! Hike the Tomales Point Trail for great viewing of elk.

Point Reyes has a large diversity of other wildlife. There is a large number of resident birds. Coyotes are spotted very frequently. But another great highlight of Point Reyes national Seashore is the large population of bobcats. People have had multiple bobcat sightings in a single day. Many consider Point Reyes to offer the best bobcat viewing in the world.

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Redwood National & State Parks

Redwood National & State Parks

The roosevelt elk is the largest subspecies of elk and was once almost driven to extinction due to excessive hunting. Today small populations reside on the coast of Oregon, Washington, and California. The largest stronghold for these large and beautiful elk are the Redwood National & State Parks, where elk are easily view able.

Roosevelt elk are very common in Redwood National & State Parks. They were almost driven to extinction everywhere, except here. The elk here are rather habituated, allowing for up close viewing and photography opportunities. They are found in many spaces all over the park.

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Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia? You're probably thinking trees. While there are trees, Sequoia has the largest and most view able population of black bears in California, if not the entire continental United States of America.\

Black bears, the world's most common bear are very numerous and easily view able in the Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Mountains of eastern California. While there are large populations of black bears in many places in United States, they are not habituated to human presence. The bears in Sequoia are habituated to people, so they will do their thing right in front of people. They have been known to suckle, graze, and even hunt in front of people in Sequoia National Park. The best time to see bears in May because they are coming down to lower elevations. June is also very good, and they can be spotted all the way till August. After that the chances are much less to spot them. The best area to spot them is in the Giant Forest, where there is the largest population of habituated bears. The crescent meadow trail is the best trail to spot them and Dorst Campground is the best camp to see them. Peeople have spotted up to 33 bears in 3 days in the giant forest, probably the highest in the entire continental United States.

Other highlights of Sequoia is the large and beautiful Sequoia trees. Other wildlife highlights include deer and some years ago there was a mountain lion spotted every day around the Dorst Campsite.

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Klamath Basin

Klamath Basin

The Klamath Basin is a magical place in winter. Large numbers of whopping cranes, snow geese, waterfowl, and other impressive birds come to the basin. It is a critical wintering site for all those birds. But the main reason to come to the wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin is to see two amazing species of birds. The charismatic bald eagle and the grebes (Clark's and Western).

Bald eagles are a symbol of American wilderness. Their large wingspan and graceful gliding make them sought out by wildlife enthusiast and photographers. Once almost extinct in continental U.S, the American national bird is making a comeback. And nowhere more so than the Klamath basin. The Klamath Basin holds the largest population of wintering bald eagles in the continental United States. Up to a 1,00 eagles come here in winter, from places as far away as Alaska. The eagles and other birds come here in winter because of the abundant prey. During the dawn fly out, it is not uncommon to see 60 eagles. People have seen trees full of 20 bald eagles. There are also several fields in which you can see up to 30 bald eagles hunting mice. It is an amazing spectacle that can be seen nowhere else. Many consider Klamath Basin to be the best bald eagle viewing location in the continental U.SD. It should be noted that there is only an abundance of eagles from mid-Nov to late March. The peak time is mid Feb to spot bald eagles.

Everyone has seen documentaries which talk about how birds dance to attract their mates. Well you can see Western and Clark's grebes doing that with your own eyes in the Klamath Basin. From mid-April to mid-May is the grebes mating season. The will be dancing on the lakes and ponds to attract mates. It is a truly amazing spectacle to witness. People have reported seeing multiple mating pairs doing the mating ritual every day. Klamath Basin is considered by many to be the best place in the world to see the dancing grebes. Putnam's point is an excellent place to look for the dancing grebes. It should be noted that Late April and May is the best time to see this spectacle, any other time is less reliable.

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Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is one of California's most famous state parks, and not without reason. It has great camping, and is the only state park in which you're allowed to camp in places which are not designated camp sites. Anza Borrego Desert State Park also has one of the most spectacular wildflower shows on the world, with fields of pink, orange, red, purple, and green wildflowers. Many people come to see these desert wildflowers, which colors are absolutely astounding. Many say they are the prettiest wildflowers tat they have seen. But in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, there exists a large population of an endangered mammal that was once almost driven to extinction in California. That animal is the amazing peninsular bighorn sheep.

The peninsular bighorn sheep, like other bighorn sheep in California were once almost driven to extinction. They were hunted excessively until they were almost one. But Anza Borrego Desert State Park remained one of their last refuges, with 200 sheep residing in the park. Anza Borrego has several herds of sheep, all which are somewhat habituated to human presence due to protection in the area. Several rams and females and lambs roam the cliffs to this very day. People have reported daily sightings of the peninsular bighorn sheep on the Palm Canyon Trail, where the animals have become habituated to human presence and come down to lower elevations to drink water. Palm Canyon Trail is definitely the best place to look out for the sheep. morning and evening offer the best viewing. In March and April you can see newborn calves and in September you can hear and sometimes see the rut.Anza Borrego Desert State Park is one of the last refuges of peninsular bighorn sheep and certainly offers the best sheep viewing in California.