1YoT: Animals of North America

About a year ago, Inna and I visited Costa Rica, a country known for its biodiversity and wildlife. We knew we would see a lot of animals there, so we kept track of every one we saw, and included the log, with pictures, in our Costa Rica blog.

Many people don’t realize that the United States (especially the west) is also known for biodiversity and wildlife, and it is one of the great wildlife countries on earth. Knowing this, for our across-the-US roadtrip, we once again kept a log of all the animals we saw. Here they are, broken down by area.

NOTE: domesticated animals and animals in zoos don’t count, but farm animals do. Farm animals will be noted with a *. SECOND NOTE: as with everywhere, we saw a lot of bugs on this roadtrip. Therefore, bugs will only be included if they are unique/notable or if we took a picture of them.

All Across America

Certain animals we saw almost everywhere. Instead of repeating them over and over, I’ll include them here. These animals include: horses*, cows*, squirrels and chipmunks (squirrels in the cities, chipmunks in the wilderness), hawks, pigeons, crows, ducks, geese, seagulls (coastal only), cicadas (Illinois to the Atlantic), and lots of other bugs.

Horses and cows are incredible, but they aren’t rare so I didn’t take many pictures of them. I did however take pictures of these wild horses grazing at Custer National Battlefield.

Despite seeing squirrels and chipmunks everywhere, the only ones we took pictures of were:a squirrel from Yellowstone, a squirrel from California, and a chipmunk in the Beartooth Mountains.


Like squirrels and chipmunks, we also saw tons of hawks, but didn’t get many pictures of them. We did however get some spectacular eagle pictures, to see an example, check out the featured image of this post.

We saw more of these birds (ducks, geese, seagulls, pigeons) than any other animal, not counting all the bison we saw in Yellowstone.


Deer, goats*, llamas*, pigs*, bison*, herons, a quail, blue jays, swans, ostriches*, turtles, a rattlesnake (heard only), bees, a swarm of butterflies

We saw all these animals but didn’t get a single picture of them. For the rarer animals, it was because we drove by too fast, and we didn’t take pictures of the more common animals because we didn’t get the idea for this post until we left California.


Goats*, salmon*, trout*, sturgeon*, tadpoles, snails, dragonflies, a millipede

Millipedes and snails in the forest. Gross! 

Sturgeon and salmon swimming in one of the fish hatcheries’ fish sanctuaries.

Washington (including Seattle)

Elk, a rabbit, a quail, an owl, a heron, salmon, jellyfish

We saw so many elk while driving through Packwood (near Mt. Rainier), it was incredible!

A heron in Seattle and an owl in the North Cascades. Unfortunately the owl picture didn’t turn out too well (the owl is the white blotch in the center of the photograph) and he flew away before we could take another photograph.


Jellyfish in the Puget Sound. These things (there were four of them) were huge!

Western Montana

A black bear, a groundhog, deer and fawn, bulls*, trout, grasshoppers, leaf bugs, dragonflies


Money shot! This was the coolest animal we saw on our roadtrip.


Deer in the woods on the road to Garnet.

Bugs on our tent and in our car.


Bison, a grey fox, deer and fawn, elk, mountain goats, mallards, swans, eagles, ravens, bees, butterflies, the colorful bacteria that give Yellowstone its color

We saw so many bison in Yellowstone, it was ridiculous. We estimate we saw 500+, 100+ up close. 


Money shot #2! Look at how huge that thing is. Look how close it is!

We also saw a ton of elk. They even came into our campsite with us.

Here’s a grey fox and two fawns. Yellowstone had so many animals!

A quick blitz through the rest (at least the rest that we took pictures of): birds in our campsite, a moth, a butterfly, and a bee sharing our lunch.

East Montana/Wyoming

Prairie dogs, deer, ravens, spiderwebs

Prairie dogs and spider webs. We saw lots of both, but we couldn’t find any actual spiders.

South Dakota

Big horn sheep, a rabbit, prairie dogs, deer, suicidal birds (one dove straight into our car as we were driving 80mph on I-90. We’re pretty sure he didn’t survive), more spiderwebs

If you read our Midwest post, you know how excited we were to see these big horn sheep. The rabbit was cool too, and super cute, but we see those all the time in Los Angeles (at night behind the new soccer field at the Balboa Sports Complex, there are tons of them).


Wild turkeys

Eastern Pennsylvania

A raccoon, bulls*


Kinda surprised it took this long to see one of these. 

West Virginia and Virginia

Deer and fawn, goats*, an eagle, chickens*, turkeys*, a frog, caterpillars, butterflies


Money shot #3! Holy crap, look at that thing. Beautiful.

Caterpillars and frogs.

Our campsite in West Virginia. It was chickens, turkeys, goats, and us.

Washington DC

A rat or a mouse (not sure, it ran by fast)

New York City

Turtles, Godzilla

Turtles in central park.


We’re under attack! Aaaaggghhhhh!!!

Upstate New York/Niagara Falls

Deer, caterpillar, spider

I think that spider is the creepiest image I’ve ever shot.


A raccoon


A raccoon playing peek-a-boo outside our Airbnb window. Can you spot him in this photograph?

And thats it!

For those keeping score, out total count: 21 mammal species, 18 known and many unknown bird species, 2 reptile species, 1 amphibian species, 3 fish species, and countless invertebrates. And even though we saw this much, we we didn’t see everything: no mountain lions, no condors (although I saw two on a previous roadtrip), no beavers (we did see the trees they chewed up), no alligators or crocodiles (we didn’t drive through the south); these animals (and more) are all the more reason to do another roadtrip!


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