The index ranked the United States as number one, thanks to the country’s impressive system of national parks (60 in total) as well as the number of natural history museums (more than 750). For travelers looking to get closer to nature, there’s no shortage of options around the U.S.
The country’s first national park, Yellowstone, is home to rare wildlife like gray wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears. At South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, bison are known to roam right around the campgrounds, at Montana’s Glacier National Park, visitors will find a large population of white mountain goats; and at Death Valley National Park, the mesquite trees of the park’s Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes hide a variety of wildlife.
Southern Florida is the only U.S. destination where you’ll find both crocodiles and alligators in the wild. Everglades National Park has both — as well as manatees, more than 300 bird species, and more than 700 plant species.
In Alaska’s Denali National Park, visitors can observe caribou in the wild; in Florida, beachgoers can see loggerhead sea turtles come to nest; and in San Diego, the sea lions in La Jolla always draw a crowd.
The Megafauna Conservation Index also ranked the U.S. as first in the world for its conservation efforts. The index measures countries based on the proportion of land occupied by mega-fauna species, the proportion of the range of the species strictly protected in each country, and the amount of money spent on conservation.