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5 Wildlife Phenomenon to Experience in North America this Fall and Winter

by Aoife O'Riordan

Nov 4, 2022

© Yellowstone Vacations


The transition from fall to winter sees many animals migrate to warmer weather. Plan family travel to one of these five destinations to witness some of the world’s greatest wildlife phenomenon this year.


Whooping Crane

© Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.


1. Whooping Crane, South Texas

Endangered whooping cranes travel more than 2,500 miles from northern Canada to South Texas each fall for warmer weather. As North America’s tallest bird species, measuring 5 feet tall with a 7-foot wingspan, this rare species embarks on a dangerous journey each year. The only migratory population of this species lies in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, situated about 80 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. The birds rest here from November to mid-March. Visit this refuge, which has helped grow the whooping crane population from a mere 20 in the late 1930s to 543 today, to see these magnificent creatures.

© Visit SLO CAL / Acacia Productions


2. Monarch Butterfly, San Luis Obispo, California

More than 85,000 people visit Pismo State Beach Monarch Grove each year to see these beautiful butterflies. As one of just a few sites in the state with more than 10,000 butterflies, this grove allows visitors to see monarch butterflies in troves. Visit between late October and February to see these butterflies cluster in the limbs of eucalyptus trees.

Goldstream Park

© Courtesy of Destination Greater Victoria


3. Salmon and Eagles, Victoria, Canada

Every fall, millions of Pacific salmon venture upstream to spawn, often referred to as the Salmon Run. Goldstream Provincial Park sees many salmon visit between late October and early November to reproduce. Of course, the sudden influx of salmon also sees other wildlife appear, including bald eagles. Bald eagles accompany the salmon in such high numbers, their arrival has earned the nickname Eagle Extravaganza. When the eagles arrive, Goldstream Estuary closes to allow eagles to safely rest and feed, but visitors can still witness these creatures from a distance.


© Yellowstone Vacations


4. Bison, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Animals prepare for winter as fall draws to a close, making it the perfect time for visitors to spot animals as they travel south or stock up for winter. While elk are commonly seen in early and mid fall, as the temperature drops, bison emerge. Look for bison migrating to lower elevations such as Blacktail Deer Plateau and Gardiner Basin. As bison venture closer to sea level, wolves also appear as they hunt for prey.

© Visit Santa Barbara


5. Monarch Butterfly, Santa Barbara, California

San Luis Obispo isn’t the only place to witness monarch butterfly colonies. The butterfly species also migrates through the Goleta area north of Santa Barbara between November and February. Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove at Ellwood Mesa welcomes visitors to catch glimpses of these vibrant butterflies for free. While at the grove, be sure to also look for California Ebony tarantulas. Male tarantulas come out in the late afternoon to mate in fall, and the grove’s eight Tarantula Trails allow visitors the best chances to spot these large arachnids.


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