Welcome to America, land of opportunity. When you explore this diverse country on a holiday to the USA you can discover the birthplace of jazz in the Deep South, don your spurs on a ranch in Texas, or hop on a trolley car in San Francisco. From the Rockies’ snow-capped peaks to Key West’s white sand beaches — adventures, wildlife encounters and thrilling city experiences await you.
From the skyscrapers of New York to the vastness of the Grand Canyon and the beaches of Hawaii, wherever you go there’s always something new to discover. Try our USA Road Trip Recommender, download the digital editions of Footprints for more inspiration or read all about motor home holidays for some great ideas for California Road Trips.
Like spring, autumn in Colorado tends to be quite brief and mild. The weather changes quickly in the autumn, going from sunny, pleasant days to cold, snowy evenings, but days are generally sunny and warm in early autumn.
Colorado is an ideal outdoor location any time of year but we particularly love summer and winter. June through August are predictably warm with low humidity and January to March regularly see fresh powder fall on the world-famous ski resorts.
Spring in Colorado is short and brief. It sometimes snows into May and some ski resorts stay open as late as July. Despite the snow, however, daytime temperatures are generally pleasant, although weather can change unexpectedly.
Low humidity and warm to hot weather make Colorado summers perfect for outdoor activities. Mid-July through September sees afternoon thunderstorms with rain, lightning, and thunder.
Winter in Colorado is typically cold and snowy, although the amount of snow depends on the elevation. Higher elevations have frequent snow storms while lower elevations receive less frequent snow storms and low temperatures don’t last long.
Connecticut in the autumn has mild, sunny days and crisp, cool nights. Leaves start to change by mid autumn and by late autumn you may see frost coating the ground.
Our favourite time to go to Connecticut is in September and October when the weather is mild, the days are sunny, the humidity is low, and the autumn foliage has begun to change.
Early spring in Connecticut is still quite cool, although by late spring (May to late-June) the temperatures have risen and become quite warm. Rain is likely to fall during this season.
Summers are sunny, hot, and humid and often bring frequent thunderstorms which are accompanied by heavy rain, thunder, and lightning, although these storms are usually brief.
Winter in Connecticut is quite cold with snow very likely, especially from December to early March. Snowstorms are usually followed by rain which washes away the snow.
Autumn is mild and damp in Oregon, although there are usually sunny days scattered throughout the season and there are many years when an Indian summer brings extended summer temperatures.
Our favourite time to visit Oregon is in the summer months of July and August when there is less chance of the infamous rain and clouds. This is the best season to get outdoors and enjoy Oregon’s spectacular natural scenery.
Early spring in Oregon still brings a high chance of rain, but more sunshine and warmer weather later in spring chases away the gray days and brings bursts of flowers and green.
Summer is warm and typically dry, although eastern Oregon is warmer and drier than the coastal region. This is Oregon’s sunniest season, although occasional rain showers keep the air fresh and mild.
Most of Oregon’s infamous rains fall in the winter and along the west coast. The weather is chilly and rainy with high incidences of fog. Snow falls frequently in the winter in eastern Oregon.
September starts sunny but temperatures start to drop and quickly become crisp. In October the spectacular, colourful foliage of Newport stands beautifully against the background of sea and sky.
Newport is the quintessential summer getaway. Long, warm, sunny days from June to August are tempered by breezes from the Atlantic keeping the temperature consistently pleasant.
Spring is an ideal season to visit Newport, thanks to mild days. The ground can be wet and the air can be a bit chilly, but a burst of blossoming flowers makes for a beautiful backdrop.
Summer days in Newport are warm and tempered by gentle ocean breezes, perfect for the beach or boating around Newport. June, July, and early August are the warmest month, although tropical storms sometimes occur in June.
Winters in Newport are relatively mild, with low temperatures hovering around freezing. Snow tends to fall from mid-December to mid-February while the rest of winter is marked by cold rain.
Early autumn is still hurricane season in Louisiana so you will encounter hot temperatures and heavy rain showers. By the end of autumn the weather has calmed down and you will get pleasant, sunny days.
We love Louisiana in early May, before the temperatures rise too high and the humidity sets in, or October, after hurricane season has passed. During these months the weather is balmy but consistently sunny.
Louisiana’s spring weather is comfortable and warm and you can count on sunny days with little chance of rain. Toward the end of spring (early June) the chances of rain will increase.
The weather during Louisiana summers is hot and humid; the blazing high temperatures are regularly accompanied by heavy, pounding rainstorms. June through September are hurricane season in Louisiana.
Winter in Louisiana is short and mild throughout much of the state, although it never gets that cold. The farther south you go the colder it may get. By February or March you will often be able to walk around without a coat.
Autumn in Washington, especially along the coast, typically brings an ‘Indian Summer’. The skies are still blue, the days bright and sunny, and mountain wildflowers are still in bloom.
The summer months of July, August, and September in Washington just can’t be beat. The days are long and deliciously warm, the landscape a beautiful green. This is when Washingtonians head outdoors for hiking, boating, or any of the summer festivals.
Washington in spring is still rainy until June or July, although the days become interspersed with some gloriously warm, sunny days. Fields of daffodils, tulips, and wildflowers pop up across the state and melting snow hustles over rushing waterfalls.
Summer is the best time to visit Washington, when you will most reliably not be rained on. Eastern Washington tends to get quite hot but the rest of the state stays warm and (reasonably) dry.
Winter is cold and either rainy or snowy in Washington. Eastern Washington stays very cold and snowy while Seattle is infamous for constant rain, although blasts of Arctic air sometimes bring snow and freezing weather here as well.
Arizona is ablaze with colour in the autumn. This season also brings a drop in the raging summer temperatures so you can enjoy crimson leaves, crisp days, and pleasant walks outdoors.
Our favourite time to visit Arizona is in the spring or autumn. Temperatures are warm, but not extreme, and Arizona’s popular resorts are not as crowded as in the winter or summer months.
Spring sees comfortable temperatures and spectacular displays of wildflowers in Arizona. Starting in March and lasting through May, spring sees the iconic saguaro cacti covered with powdery white blooms blown by gentle breezes.
Summer in Arizona regularly reaches temperatures of over 45°C at the lower elevations. You will also have to contend with monsoon season (July through September) bringing brief but strong thunderstorms, powerful winds, and dust storms.
Winter is high season in most of Arizona, when warm temperatures make a welcome break from gloomy northern winters. Prices may be at their highest, but you will enjoy weekends packed with outdoor festivals to compliment the balmy weather.
Utah has a spectacular autumn, when the comfortable temperatures and low chance of snow or rain make it excellent for the numerous outdoor activities the state has to offer.
Our favourite time to visit Utah is in September and early October when the temperatures are mild and there is little chance of thunderstorms or snow. Autumn colours, especially in the mountains, rival New England for vibrancy, the colours peaking in late-September.
Spring in Utah is ideal for outdoor activities—warm days with crisp nights. There are typically fewer crowds and the wildflowers of the desert are in full bloom. Spring can be unpredictable, however, with sudden showers not uncommon.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Utah, although very hot temperatures reign in the desert regions, including the national parks. In the north and the mountains the temperatures are rarely extreme but thunderstorms are a daily threat.
Snow is common in the winter throughout Utah, starting as early as November and often falling into March. Utah is known for its excellent ski resorts, especially south of Salt Lake City.
Clear, warm days with blue skies characterise autumn in Chicago. Sometimes the extreme heat of summer can continue into September, but by late October the ground becomes frosty and by December the first snow has fallen.
Because of the extreme summer heat and winter chill, our favourite time to visit Chicago is in May and June or September and October. During these months you are more likely to see sunny skies and warm weather, while most of the crowds are smaller.
The only thing predictable about spring in Chicago is how unpredictable it is. Snow, rain, sleet, sun, you might get a mix throughout the season, or even all in one day. Temperatures start to rise in April and May.
Summer is the flip extreme of winter in Chicago. Days are very hot although overnight temperatures usually drop due to thunderstorms. Humidity can be moderately high during the day.
Winter is bitterly cold in Chicago. Between December and February temperatures regularly drop to -9°C with blasts of icy air making it feel even colder. Snowstorms strike the area regularly so be prepared to bundle up and have many indoor visits.
Autumn is brief and beautiful in Maine. The weather is mild and crisp, with sunny days in early autumn changing to snow by the end. The famous fiery foliage of autumn appears from mid-September to October.
Early spring is quite cold in Maine, but as a result many of the ski resorts are able to remain open. The days gradually become more temperate, marked by days of sporadic showers.
The summer months in Maine are warm with cooler nights and almost no humidity. This is when Maine is its busiest, especially the coastal resorts, where gentle breezes cool the warm summer days.
Expect cold and snowy weather throughout winter in Maine. Snow falls as early as Halloween and snowfall averages between 150 and 230 centimetres annually, although it melts quickly along the coast.
The blazing colours of autumn in New Hampshire come out as the temperatures drop. This is perhaps the best time of year. Autumn temperatures are cool but not cold and you aren’t likely to see much rain.
We love New Hampshire in the autumn, when the sun’s amber rays light the changing leaves to blazing colours of crimson, gold, and burnt oranges. The days are still warm and sunny, the evenings crisp, and rain hasn’t set in.
Spring in New Hampshire ushers in a season of change. The air warms, the daffodils bloom, and the tree sap is turned into maple syrup. Spring is also fondly referred to as ‘mud’ season, so you may see a lot of rain.
Summer is warm and sunny in New Hampshire, although it tends to be short. Most people like to get outdoors, flocking to the beaches, the lakes, and the mountains during summer.
New Hampshire winters are cold and snowy, but this makes it perfect for winter sports like snowboarding and skiing. Many areas, especially in the Lakes Region, are closed due to the snow and other areas see ice and freezing rain.
Autumn weather in Massachusetts can be quite changeable but is typically cool and crisp with sunny skies. There are often Indian summers when the temperatures are still warm and with the change of seasons the spectacular autumn foliage arrives.
Since Massachusetts has very humid summers and very cold winters, our favourite time to go is in late spring. During late-May and throughout June the weather is typically gloriously sunny with pleasant temperatures.
Spring in Massachusetts is typically wet and cloudy, although temperatures are warmer the farther east you go. There is also a high chance of rain during the spring, although after every storm sunny skies follow.
Summer is warm in Massachusetts, but July and August can get quite hot with high humidity. Summer can also bring thudnerstorms, with an average of 30 days of thunderstorms each summer.
Winter in Massachusetts is cold and often snowy, although the temperatures are less extreme on the coast, with winter temperatures hovering right above freezing. Further inland snow and freezing temperatures are more common.
September starts out warm but by the end of the month the temperatures have dropped significantly. Autumn foliage is spectacular but expect sporadic rain throughout the day.
While most people visit Pennsylvania in summer, we love May and June for the warm, sunny days before humidity makes hitting the tourist spots difficult. Sporadic rain can fall but usually clears up quickly.
After a cool start, Philadelphia typically enjoys a temperate spring with mild temperatures and sporadic rain. The city awakens from the cold winter and flowers and cherry blossoms provide a spectacular backdrop for your holiday.
Most people visit Philadelphia during the summer, when temperatures rise. However, high temperatures, humidity, and an increased chance of rain can make July and August uncomfortable.
Winter in Pennsylvania is cold with temperatures dipping well into the freezing range and snow falling as standard. Most of the main attractions in the cities remain open, so winter can be an excellent time to visit as long as you dress warm.
Autumn in Georgia is sunny and cool, the summer humidity washed away by the cooler weather. Nights are crisp, often dropping down to 10°C, but you won’t usually see rain and the foliage begins to turn an array of lovely colours.
We love Georgia in April and May, when the blossoms gleam white against the blue sky. The weather can be unpredictable in early spring but in April and May the rain ceases, the temperatures become pleasant, and there is no humidity.
Georgia springs are absolutely glorious. While it is raining everywhere else in the USA, this is the driest time of year for Georgia. The temperatures are comfortable, the humidity low, and the spring blossoms blooming everywhere.
Summer in Georgia is summed up in one word; humid. Temperatures reach well into the 30s with humidity so high it feels like you can bite into it. Summer thunderstorms are common, although blessedly quick.
Winters in Georgia are generally quite mild, although further inland temperatures can sometimes get down to freezing. January through March are considered the rainy season.
Autumn is the best time to see New England at its finest, and Vermont is no exception. Days are fresh and crisp, evenings bright and cool, and the Vermont foliage bursts with the vibrant colours of autumn.
We love Vermont in September and October, when the kaleidoscope of autumn colours lights up the hills and towns with vibrant foliage resplendent in crimsons, burnt sienna’s, and bright oranges.
A Vermont spring is characterised by the scent of sweet maple syrup gently lacing the air. As temperatures rise and sunshine becomes more plentiful, the landscape becomes greener, although watch out for rain in late spring, often called ‘mud’ season.
Summer sees Vermont turn lush and green and the long, bright days are filled with county fairs and outdoor festivals. Temperatures rarely become unreasonable and sometimes warm summer days can be paired with cool summer evenings.
Vermont is a typical winter wonderland in the winter. Temperatures hover right around freezing and the hills and towns are blanketed with snow, skiers coming in from all around the East Coast to enjoy the 17 alpine ski resorts.
Autumn brings cooler temperatures and less humidity to Washington DC. The days stay mild and sunny well into October and the vibrant autumn foliage appears around October.
Washington DC has two fantastic seasons: spring and autumn. From March to May and September through November the temperatures are mild and pleasant with low humidity and plenty of sunshine. Spring in DC’s busiest season, while autumn is much quieter.
This is the busiest season for Washington DC, and the reason is the weather. Days are pleasant and sunny with low humidity and mild temperatures and the city’s many ornamental gardens are in bloom.
The summer months bring hot, humid weather to Washington DC, especially between late July and throughout August. Long ago the city was built on a swamp, and the weather lets you know it.
Bring your hat and gloves to Washington DC in the winter; the weather can get pretty cold. Winter brings rain or freezing rain as well as the occasional snowstorm that brings the city to a halt.
Head for Tennessee in the autumn and you will enjoy warm, sometimes hot days, crisp, cool nights, and vibrant, colourful foliage. Autumn also sees an increase in Tennessee rains, but it rarely lasts too long.
We love Tennessee in April, May, and June when the weather is consistently warm but hasn’t reached an uncomfortable level of humidity. In the spring, Tennessee’s native flowers and trees are in full bloom and fun outdoor festivals abound.
Spring is arguably the best season to go on holiday to Tennessee. The days are warm but not humid and the nights are crisp and cool. Early March can be rainy and stormy, but late-March on is perfect.
Summer is hot and humid in Tennessee, temperatures regularly rising to 38°C. This is also the most crowded time of year, when most tourists descend on the cities and parks.
Winter in Tennessee is usually cold and wet. Snow falls sometimes but tends to melt quickly, except in the mountain regions, where snow falls regularly. Christmas tends to feature a variety of seasonal activities, including skiing.
Autumn is typically warm but not hot with low humidity throughout much of Texas. October sees many towns hosting festivals as the weather is mild and the days sunny.
While spring is lovely our favourite time to go to Texas is autumn. The oppressive heat of summer disappears, the temperatures drop but are still comfortable, and numerous autumn festivals occur, especially in October.
Spring typically brings warm temperatures although it can be a bit hit and miss. This is one of the nicest seasons in Texas as wildflowers are in bloom and humidity is low. Sudden rains, flash floods, and dust storms can occur during the spring.
Generally eastern Texas is humid while western Texas is semi-arid. Look for blisteringly high temperatures and in late summer there is always the threat of hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.
Winters are typically temperate in central and southern of Texas with temperatures well above freezing. However, the north can get quite cold and snow and ice are an occasional occurrence.
December through May offer increasingly warm, dry weather. There is little chance of rain, or if you do see rain it will be brief and followed quickly by clear skies.
April and May are our favourite months to visit Florida. With subtropical, balmy days that aren’t too humid and comfortable nights, this is the perfect time to be outside or visit one of Florida’s world-famous theme parks.
While Florida is called the Sunshine State for a reason (many areas have 361 days of sunshine a year) hurricane season officially lasts from 1 June to 30 November. From June to September humidity increases and over half of the rain for the state falls during these months.
Consistent sunshine, warm temperatures, and gentle sea breezes make Hawaii an all-season state. But if we had to choose, April and May would be our favourite time of year, when less rain falls, temperatures aren’t too hot, and tropical flowers come to life.
As the trade winds die down, so does the rain and Hawaii’s summer ushers in the dry season. Hawaii in early summer is almost always perfect. Late summer can bring high humidity but this is usually regulated by trade winds.
Winter is Hawaii’s so-called rainy season, particularly on the north and east coasts. In reality, however, showers are typically brief and temperatures still remain consistently mild, making winter an ideal time to visit Hawaii.
All travellers visiting the USA must now ensure they have obtained approval under the Visa Waiver Program before they travel. The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is an online process run by the United States government to determine the preliminary eligibility of visitors to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, prior to their arrival to the USA.
You must visit www.cbp.gov/esta and provide basic information about yourself in order to receive authorisation, which usually takes a matter of minutes, though it is advisable to complete your application as soon as you start planning your trip, or at least three days in advance, to avoid any delays. If you don't hold a valid ESTA by the time you travel you may encounter difficulties in entering the USA. Your ESTA approval will be valid for up to two years and for multiple visits to the USA. You can be refused a Visa Waiver or entry to the USA if you have a criminal record or if you have ever made a false statement on a previous visa application.
There are no restrictions on the US Dollar, so you can exchange your UK Pounds before leaving the UK. There are typically currency exchange booths in the larger airports in the USA, but you will not find any if you are flying to or from small, rural airports.
Your best option for exchanging money is to buy US Dollars in advance, where you will generally get a better exchange rate. Once you leave the airport, it may be difficult to find places that exchange money. Alternatively, withdraw cash from cash machines, which are available at most banks. You will be able to use your credit card pretty much everywhere while on holiday in the USA.
Please note that some hotels may charge a resort fee, payable locally, please contact our destination specialists for details.
The nuances of tipping while on holiday in the USA are vastly different from in the UK. While tipping is not legally required, service jobs tend to pay poorly, therefore tips supplement these wages. In general, tips are 15 percent of the bill, while 20 percent is considered a good tip. Leaving a 10 percent tip is a sign that you were not happy with the service.
Tip bartenders one to two US Dollars per drink and tip servers 15 to 20 percent of the bill. Service is usually included in the bill for groups of six or more, so check before including any more. Taxi drivers should get about 10 to 15 percent of the fare.
No special vaccines are required.
The United States of America is an astonishingly diverse country, with different weather patterns from east to west and north to south. Most of the USA is marked by contrasting seasons which generally follows the same pattern as the UK. However, the temperatures and climate depends entirely on the region. Because of these wide differences, what you pack for a holiday in the USA depends on where you are going and in which season.
Cotton T-shirts and shorts to keep you cool in the summer;
Umbrella in the rainy season particularly in the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon and Idaho);
Jeans or trousers and jumpers in the winter;
Converter and adapter (the power supply in the USA is 120 volts at 60 hertz);
Sandals in the summer;
Light or heavy jacket depending on which season you are travelling in;
With its range of cultures, backgrounds, and immigrants, the USA is a mix of cultural and culinary flavours based on regionalism and diversity. The foods here vary from coast to coast, and even neighbourhood to neighbourhood. The dishes in the south-eastern states have been heavily influenced by African slaves from generations past, including barbecue, fritters, and fried chicken. In Louisiana the French influences of Creole and Cajun reign supreme. The south-western states have been influenced by Mexican cuisine, including beans, corn, chilli, and guacamole, while the west coast has developed fusion cuisine, which takes ingredients from numerous cuisines to create flavourful dishes.
The cheeseburger. Eat it traditionally, gourmet, sliders (mini burgers), Kobe (the Japanese top-range beef), or try it piled high with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles, or mustard (American mustard, that is.) For a variation, add green chillies, nacho cheese, or fried onions. Top with cheese and you have your cheeseburger. The classic American food.
New England Clam Chowder
Originally thought to have been passed along by French fishermen in colonial times, this classic American soup is so much more than just a soup. Thick and aromatic, New England clam chowder has layered flavours atop a meaty foundation. There are, of course, many variations, but the original New England clam chowder is creamy with potatoes and onion and packed with the quahog clam, which gives the chowder a briny kick.
Meatloaf is what it says on the tin—a loaf of meat. A traditional meatloaf is made by mixing a lump of mince with bread crumbs, an egg, onion, a splash of milk, and seasonings like oregano, salt, pepper, and paprika. It is then patted into a bread tin and baked for about an hour. It tastes like a gourmet hamburger, but without the bun.
Chilli con Carne
Chilli con carne is a spicy, stew-like dish popular in the south-western states of the USA. In fact, it is the official dish of Texas. The ingredients generally include some type of meat, thus the Spanish words con carne (with meat), chilli peppers, onions, tomatoes, beans, and spices such as cumin, chilli powder, salt, pepper, and strangely enough, chocolate, which adds a gentle richness to this slow-cooked dish. The chilli is served with soured cream, guacamole, and sometimes rice.
A much revered tradition in the USA, the eating of S’mores evokes childhood vacations and carefree camping. While it takes a lot of work, the reward is enough to make it worth it. Roast a marshmallow over an open campfire, squish it between two graham crackers (similar to a digestive, but not as dense), and add a few squares of chocolate.
While street food is not particularly common in the USA, there is certainly a rising prevalence of food trucks across many metro areas. Street food ranges from tacos to hot dogs, falafel to crème brûlée. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean and fresh, as well as cooked right in front of you.
New York Hot Dogs
New York is known as much for its haute cuisine as its street foods, the humble hot dog being chief of these. Various stands are scattered around the city streets, all of which boast the best dogs around. Top yours with ketchup, American mustard, and mayonnaise or even add chilli, cheese, or jalapeños for a mouth-watering kick.
Corn dogs are a tasty twist on the classic hot dog. Invented at a Texas State Fair by an industrious hot dog vendor, a corn dog is basically a hot dog dipped in corn meal and fried.
The Reuben is another New York classic. It is a fully-loaded sandwich made on Rye bread, piled high with corned beef or pastrami, and topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing.
Made famous in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the Philly Cheesesteak is an amalgamation of steak, onion, and green peppers, all slathered in cheese. The trick to the flavour, apparently, is to find the cheapest, fattiest steak possible in order to get the proper taste.
Deep, thick, saucy, loaded with cheese—the Chicago-Style Pizza is an iconic slice of Chicago. Sold at street vendors, in fast food chains, as well as in restaurants, this is a Midwestern classic.
Prices in the USA vary widely, from rural to city, coast to coast. A takeaway meal in the larger cities may cost six to 10 US Dollars, while in the rural areas you will probably only pay three to five US Dollars. A sandwich costs about five to seven US Dollars, but can go up or down depending on where you get it. A one-litre bottle of water costs about 75 cents in the rural areas, while it may cost one to two US Dollars in the cities. A bottle of wine from a supermarket can cost as little as three US Dollars or go up to 15 US Dollars for a low-end bottle in the cities.
Since the people of the USA are from such a rich and varied background, there is no official national dress. Similar to the UK, people in the USA typically wear suits to work and jeans and T-shirts at the weekend. Overall, the East Coast is more dressy for evening wear, while the West Coast style is very relaxed, influenced by surfing and beach lifestyle. Alaskans dress for the cold climate, wearing slippers, parkas, hats, gloves, and clothing made from the fur and hides of animals they hunt.
With such a rich mosaic of people and backgrounds, the customs and traditions of the USA vary greatly from region to region. Many people are very patriotic and nationalistic, and this pride is evident in their many rituals like the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag and the celebration of Independence Day (4th of July). Like every country, the USA has its own set of social customs and traditions. Most of these are ruled by politeness and consideration for others.
Customs in the USA include:
• Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road.
• Tipping 15 to 20 percent is considered almost obligatory.
• Americans generally dislike formality or social deference due to age or position. When being introduced to someone new, follow the cue of the person performing the introduction.
• While the USA generally practices a relaxed dress code, different regions vary vastly. In New England it is customary to dress conservatively. On the east coast, casual wear is acceptable for the beach, but not for restaurants. The south and west are more relaxed overall, generally wearing jeans and nice shirts, even for some upscale restaurants.
• You may notice that most Americans do not eat holding both their knife and fork. They usually eat everything with their fork in their right hand, only picking up the knife to cut their food into pieces before putting it down again.
The wildlife in the USA is rich and varied, with a vast array of wild animal species spanning chattering forests, sweeping coasts, and stunning mountain peaks. Many animals are situated around the USA’s 58 national parks, but there are many more living outside of these parks. See brown bears in the rivers of Alaska, elephant seals along the coast of California, bison on the plains of Montana, and alligators and crocodiles in the swamps of Florida. The national bird is the bald eagle, which soars above densely packed forests, while America’s biggest cat species, the mountain lion, prowls out west in the expansive state of Texas.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The rugged peaks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park are home to numerous wild animals that the USA is known for, including bighorn sheep, bobcats, mountain lions, and black bears. Drive Trail Ridge Road to see wildlife like squirrels, deer, and elk, as well as birds like Clark’s nutcrackers, mountain bluebirds, and golden eagles, or head for Coyote Valley Trail, a mile-long loop that circles the Colorado River in Kawuneeche Valley, to see elk, moose, and coyotes.
Black bears are the largest protected animal in the eastern United States. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, is their home. Small(ish) and fuzzy, they are a bit more tolerant of humans than their grizzly cousins. Out west you can watch brown bears snatch salmon from waterfalls at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The grizzly bear, a subspecies of brown bear, generally lives in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) and the Rocky Mountains.
Mountain Lion Viewing
Called the cougar, panther, or puma depending on location, the magnificent mountain lion differs from its African cousins in that it has no mane and no loud roar. Mountain Lions roam free in Big Bend National Park, Texas, as well as the Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountains, where they have been known to follow hiking trails at dawn and dusk.
Everglades Alligators and Crocodiles
You can find alligators and crocodiles living side-by-side in the Everglades National Park, Florida. Incidentally, these subtropic wetlands are the only place in the world that this happens. To tell the difference, check its snout. If it has a broad one, it is an alligator; if it has a narrow one with an exposed fourth tooth, it is a crocodile. You will see alligators sunning themselves along the Anhinga Trail in the Royal Palm area along the Shark Valley loop. Crocodiles chill in the saltwater of the Flamingo area, at the southern tip of the park near Florida Bay.