I’ve always been fascinated by the North American moose and no matter how many times I see one, I am still always surprised by their size. Standing up to a towering 7 feet at the shoulder, it’s often hard to remember they are in the deer family. I enjoy learning moose trivia as well, such as the fact that calves can outrun a person by the time they are only 5 days old, and adults can run up to 35 miles per hour. I was surprised to find out that moose have 27 chromosomes compared to our 23, and that there is such a thing as an extraordinarily rare white moose, and no, it’s not an albino!
Standing before a moose, however, staring up at such a majestic creature, all this data seems irrelevant. The most enjoyment I get out of moose encounters is simply watching them. While moose can be spotted in many locations across North America, Europe and Asia, here are my favorite moose encounters, in no particular order:
Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland
Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 for its geological history and stunning scenery, Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and spans nearly 700 square miles. While camping for about four days in the park we encountered an amazing variety of wildlife, including many species of birds, moose and even black bears, one of which was a little too up close and personal.
But this story is about moose so I digress. We came across several while hiking through the forest and we never got tired of watching them forage. Our most exciting moose encounter on that trip, however, was one that we actually never saw.
One morning, after days of rain, causing us to string up more and more blue tarps just to have a place to stay dry, we awoke to the sound of a large animal running down the path towards our campsite. It came to a screeching halt just outside out tent and we could hear her/him breathing.
I peeked out of the slit in the tent where the roof cover didn’t quite make it over the bottom section, leaving a space of mesh uncovered, and saw four moose legs a mere foot away from our heads. It was clear that our bright blue plastic make-shift home we had created stopped this poor moose from reaching the lake. After a minute of contemplation the moose took off again in the direction s/he had come and (hopefully) found another path to the lake.
Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska
While most of our friends escaped the winter by going to Florida or the Caribbean, we decided to delve further into winter with a trip to Alaska. Few people and many moose with a backdrop of insanely beautiful scenery – what’s not to love? One of our adventures took place while still in Anchorage at Kincaid Park.
You may think that because you rented snowshoes and paid an admission fee that you have the right to be on the trails, but in reality the moose run the show there. They may allow you to view them and take pictures or send you packing by charging at you; both of which happened to us.
Crunching along in the snow with our snowshoes we spotted a female moose sitting down eating snow so we stoopped, watched and took pictures of her. I kept getting closer and closer to get that perfect shot feeling confident until she stood up only feet away from me. Wow, she was big! I fell over backwards trying to negotiate how to step in reverse with snowshoes on. She didn’t seem to see the humor in my tumble, however, and instead just began eating twigs right off the tree. I will never forget what happened next.
She suddenly came charging at us. Never have we been so terrified! Limited by snowshoes we just stood there frozen as this beautiful creature became bigger and bigger the closer she got. Luckily, she came to a screeching halt feet away from us and stood there until we turned around and started to walk away. We got the message loud and clear!
Algonquin National Park in Ontario
It was finally spring after a bitterly cold and long Canadian winter and Mindy and I had heard that this time of year many moose come to the roadside in Algonquin Park because they like the taste of salt, which was used to clear the roads all winter long.
We hopped in the car and drove several hours north from Toronto in hopes of seeing moose. Keeping our eyes peeled we noticed a caravan of cars stopped by the side of the road, which often means a wildlife sighting.
We find a logical place to pull over and look out the car window. Indeed there was a moose looking as majestic as ever. We got out of our warm car and entered the still very cold Algonquin air to get a closer look and of course pictures. We watched a bull and a cow drinking from a small pond and, like us, enjoying the nature that is their backyard. The long trip up there was definitely worth it!
Denali National Park and Preserve in Healy, Alaska
Encompassing a staggering six million acres of Kodak moments, that look like something Bob Ross would paint, Denali National Park and Preserve is one the best places to look for moose in a their natural environment.
There is only one road in the entire park from which you can hike in the summer and snowshoe or dogsled in the winter. Winter time in the Alaskan interior is the most still we have every experienced. You can actually hear the silence, making this vacation one of the most peaceful we’ve ever had.
From a dog sled through gorgeous scenery blanketed in white snow with mountains as a backdrop we spotted two moose in the distance, who seemed both shocked and annoyed at the noise the dogs were making. Not surprisingly, they ran off only after a short while.
Alpine Lake in Golden, British Columbia
My absolute favorite moose sighting was on our honeymoon in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A local guide took us to an alpine lake high above Golden, BC to do some canoeing at sunset. We enjoyed the peacefulness of the experience gliding through the water that changed colors with the reflection of the setting sun.
After viewing a deserted beaver dam and numerous fish swimming beside us, we saw something move on the shore a short distance away. At first we thought it might have been a bear, but then suddenly she appeared! A tall gorgeous moose thirsty for a drink.
So there we sat in our canoe, Mindy in the bow and I in the stern, with the sun setting behind the surrounding mountains watching a moose drink from an alpine lake – the perfect honeymoon moment!
4 thoughts on “Moose Spotting: Top Five Moose Encounters in North America”
I’ve never been so close to a moose in my life and I would absolutely love to, I’m so jealous!! This post makes me want to go to North America right now.
Mindy & Ligeia
Moose are absolutely great to watch and I’m sure you’ll get the opportunity to see them at some point, the way you travel. 🙂
Each time I see a moose it’s like for the first time. I’d love to eventually live in an area where seeing moose is common.
I too love seeing moose, though my experience is limited. Here’s the tale:
I’d taken my mother on a cruise to Alaska, capped with a train trip from Seward to Fairbanks, stopping for overnight and a day tour of Denali Park. As you probably know, tourists have to take the park bus tour, as that’s the sole option (outside of your own feet, of course). We’d driven a while, seeing various things but nothing major (mostly birds, with a few moose in the distance, in a lake), when the guide told the driver to simply stop. He did, and all of us craned our necks wondering what we were to be looking at. The guide simply kept looking off into the far right distance, and finally announced that something felt funny to him. We were going to stay put until he could figure it out. A few minutes later he announced that there was a moose out there, moving fairly fast, and possibly coming towards us. We couldn’t see it yet, but soon did: it was trotting along, lifting its huge feet high to go through the knee-deep (for it) bushes that covered that area. The guide told us that something was happening, since normally a moose wouldn’t be doing this. Within a few minutes, as the moose continued to approach from the far distance, he shared that he thought it might be that a grizzly was pursuing the moose, which was the only thing he could think of that would make that moose keep trotting like that. And he said it was a female, since it didn’t have horns, and that possibly it had twin babies it was trying to keep away from the bear. By now we could see the moose, though still far off. The guide announced that he could make out a bear, sure enough, just as the moose disappeared down into a low-lying area to our right. We stayed put. Within just a few more minutes, the moose appeared out of that low area, almost directly to our right about a thousand feet off, and headed straight towards us. And she had a calf! Since it was only one calf and moose apparently usually give birth to twins, the guide said it was likely that a bear had already gotten one of the babies. Most moose babies become bear meals, he said, announcing that this might actually be a good thing since otherwise the moose population would explode. We didn’t like hearing this…
By now we could easily see the mama moose, and soon we could make out the baby following about 50′ behind her. The baby clearly was having a hard time with the underbrush, which was as tall as it was. The mama came nearer and nearer, and – with everyone on the bus almost literally holding their breath to keep totally silent – actually crossed the road about 20′ in front of the bus! Since my mother walked with a cane, she’d been given the front row seat, with me beside her. I took pix like crazy, capturing first the mama, then the baby, and then a few minutes later, the grizzly cantering along hot on their trail. The guide announced that the bear’s stamina was almost surely greater than the calf’s, and that the baby probably wouldn’t survive. He said that the mama could easily fight it off, but that they didn’t: they preferred to flee, even when their babies were in danger. It was very sad for all of us, but we were certainly thrilled to have seen this amazing sight.
Mindy & Ligeia
What a story indeed! Thanks for sharing it. I was at the edge of my seat with every word. I had no idea that moose would rather flee than fight even though they are so much larger than a bear.
We’ve only been to Denali National Park in the dead of winter when there were no people around and everything was covered with a blanket of white snow. We really need to go back in the Spring or Summer to do some hiking. 🙂