One of the highlights of the RV Lifestyle is spotting wildlife. It's even more special when it's animals unique to North America…
One of the best parts about the RV lifestyle is the incredible wildlife we encounter. Many people do not realize how many animals we have in America that are specific to this continent.
Some of the unique animals are seen easily enough, but some only reside in more remote parts. So, I thought it’d be fun to list the animals unique to North America and where to find them.
As a long-time RVer, I’m always looking for reasons to travel somewhere new and some of these animals are certainly worth planning a trip around.
10 Animals Unique to North America (& Where to Find Them)
The following ten animals are some incredible creatures that you can only find in North America.
1. Bald Eagle
What could be more American than seeing a Bald Eagle? Not only are these majestic birds the icon of our country, but seeing them sitting stoically or while in flight is absolutely breathtaking.
The Bald Eagle became our national symbol in 1972. They typically live in forested areas where they can freely hunt for snakes, fish, and frogs.
These birds are strikingly beautiful, as we all know, and they’re enormous. Their typical wingspan is seven feet wide! A great place to spot a Bald Eagle in the winter is near the California-Oregon border in the Klamath Basin.
In the summer, look for them in areas around bodies of water, such as lakes.
Or, if you want to be practically guaranteed to see a Bald Eagle, you can RV to Alaska. They have the largest population of Bald Eagles in the U.S. with more than 30,000. Or, you could see one in Canada along the way.
2. Luna Moth
Calling all insect lovers! Don’t miss seeing this incredible-looking moth. It is easy to do since its leaf-like wings blend well with the surrounding plant life.
The Luna Moth has a wingspan of about three to four inches, which is one of the largest in North America. It also has a unique long “tail” that looks quite neat.
If you want to try and track down these interesting bugs, you can find them in the eastern United States. They can be seen as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine, especially in wooded areas or deciduous forests.
Though they are widespread and aren’t rare, they are somewhat rarely seen due to being nocturnal and having short adult lifespans of 7-10 days. But, you’ll have a relatively good chance of seeing one if you camp in Eastern forested areas long enough.
I know, I know. Many of you want to avoid rodents while traveling. But groundhogs are different than your typical pesky furry friend!
You also may recognize this creature since it is famous for one day each year: February 2, Groundhogs Day. Each year on that day, Punxatony Phil, that hails from Pennsylvania, comes out of his burrow to predict the start of spring.
These little guys (also known as woodchucks) are the most prominent member of the squirrel family. They can weigh up to 13 pounds!
Groundhogs are found throughout most of the eastern United States, through Canada, and even up into Alaska. You’re most likely to see them in lowlands and they can be found in open pastures, woodlots, fields, ditches, and roadsides.
During early spring, groundhogs are most active during the warm parts of the day. However, during the warmer spring and summer months, the day is spent in their cool burrows, and feeding occurs during the very early morning and dusk
4. American Bison
You can find American Bison in the western United States. Most people have seen these magnificent beasts in Yellowstone National Park. Although you can see them elsewhere, including a small island off the coast of Southern California, called Catalina.
They are monstrous in size, standing at more than six feet tall and 12.5 feet long. American Bison are the largest mammal on the continent!
Mike and Jennifer Wendland's Yellowstone Travel Guide
At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.
Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.
It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.
Now back to Animals Unique to North America
5. California Condor
As a scavenger, the California Condor isn't viewed as a majestic bird like the Bald Eagle, but it is truly impressive. It is the largest land bird in North America with a wingspan of 9.5 feet. That's 2 feet longer than the next largest bird in the region (the Golden Eagle)!
The California Condor was nearly wiped out of existence in the 1980s, mostly due to lead poisoning. There were only 22 birds remaining back then but, thankfully, conservation efforts have (very) slowly but surely gained ground. There are now over 300 wild California Condors in California, Utah, Arizona, and Baja California.
Though rare, you can see a California Condor in the wild in some of our National Parks, including Pinnacles, Grand Canyon, Zion, Redwoods, and Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Parks. Quite a few zoos in California also house California Condors, including Santa Barbara Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park.
6. American Black Bear
Every wildlife enthusiast wants to see the American Black Bear sometime in their life. As their name suggests, many black bears appear black. However, many have a cinnamon brown coat and are often confused with brown bears because of the lighter fur color.
Black bears are about six feet long and can weigh anywhere from 200 to 600 pounds. This can be significantly smaller than brown bears and grizzlies, which can reach 900-1000 pounds.
They are also excellent tree climbers thanks to their short claws. Black bears tend to not be as aggressive as brown bears or grizzlies, but they are still dangerous.
You always need to learn and practice bear safety.
7. American Alligator
These alligators are native to North America and can be found primarily in the southern states. Just think about how many Florida alligator stories you have heard!
However, do not be fooled. American Alligators also reside in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana.
They mostly take refuge in marshes, lakes, rivers, or swamps.
Do not try to wrestle one of these guys. They can grow substantially in size, up to 16.5 feet! Let the professionals handle that.
8. Gila Monster
If you like reptiles, this animal is for you. The Gila monster is found in New Mexico and Arizona and takes its name from the Gila River Basin.
It has black skin with yellow splotches with bumps on its back.
These guys can grow to be just under two feet long. They're really neat to see but don't approach one! Gila monsters are venomous! Granted, they've never killed a human before but their bites are very painful.
But do not worry too much since they usually hide out in their burrow most of the day. You'll need to spot them in the early mornings or late evenings when the desert heat is more tolerable.
If you're interested in seeing one in the wild, check out our 7-Day Arizona RV Adventure Guide.
The National Wildlife Federation refers to pronghorns as “one of North America's most impressive mammals” because of their speed and migration.
Pronghorn are the second-fastest land animals in the world, only second to cheetahs (though, pronghorns can run for longer). And they are the fastest land animal in North America.
Herds of pronghorn migrate 150 miles each way between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park. The only other land animal to travel farther in North America is the caribou.
They have reddish-brown fur and horns that make them similar in appearance to antelope. They are sometimes called American Antelope but are actually from a different family of animals.
Pronghorn are mainly found in the United States in the Great Plains, Wyoming, Montana, northeast California, southeast Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Some of the highest numbers of pronghorn are in Wyoming in the Red Desert and Yellowstone.
10. Key Deer
The Key Deer can only be found in the Florida Keys. Yep, island deer!
They are considered the smallest deer species still living in North America. It is disheartening to mention that they are an endangered species.
The good news is that life-saving measures are being taken to try and help this deer population thrive. The National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key is protecting and preserving this group of deer.
What About the Florida Keys?
Do you want to hit Key West, the Everglades National Park, and all the other great things the Keys have to offer? Well, we have just the thing for you. Jennifer and I love traveling to the Keys, so we've created a complete 7-Day RV Adventure Guide: Florida Keys. This downloadable guide includes a suggested itinerary and a list of the best RV parks along the way.
We also have a 7-Day RV Adventure Guide to Florida's Atlantic Coast and Florida's Gulf Coast. If you're interested in all three, you should check out our Florida RV Travel Guide Bundle.