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The American Safari

March 22, 2016 | By Scott Dubois

Before the European colonization of North America, the region had a wildlife migration that rivaled the Serengeti in Africa. Millions of bison, antelopes, elk and deer roamed the plains, hunted by packs of wolves or lone jaguars. While the fencing off of the American West diminished the spectacle, there are still places you can get a glimpse of its former glory.

If you’re looking for a top-notch wildlife experience without the long international flight, consider some of these properties for your next American safari.

1. The Resort at Paws Up, Montana

River Camp tent exterior The Resort at Paws Up

Set on a 37,000-acre working ranch in Montana, The Resort at Paws Up is well-known for its luxury safari tents. Traditional plains species are more limited, but you can participate in a cattle drive to get a real Western experience.

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2. Triple Creek Ranch, Montana

Set in a scenic Montana valley, Triple Creek Ranch has populations of elk, bison, deer, moose and turkeys. Bald eagles call the nearby river home. As an extension to your stay, the ranch offers wildlife safaris from its luxury 4x4s.

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3. Cibolo Creek Ranch, Texas

Cibolo Creek is a historic 30,000-acre cattle ranch located near Big Bend National Park, 38 miles south of Marfa. The Texas desert holds a surprising number of megafauna, including bison, elk, desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and even longhorn cattle. Wildlife viewing or hunting excursions on horseback or 4x4 can be arranged with the concierge.

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4. Zapata Ranch, Colorado

North American bison at Zapata Ranch

This 103,000-acre ranch in southern Colorado is owned by the Nature Conservancy to support conservation of its 2,000-strong North American bison herd. Guided tours let you get up close to photograph the animals and learn how the ranch manages its "conservation herd." While Zapata Ranch is not a Harper-recommended property, it is worthy of a visit for the horseback riding, guided naturalist and birding tours and proximity to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

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5. The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana

Bighorn sheep at The Ranch at Rock Creek © Michael Chilcoat

The Ranch at Rock Creek sits on 6,600 scenic acres in southwest Montana. The ranch contains habitat for viewing everything from prairie dogs, elk and wolves to moose, bighorn sheep and the occasional mountain lion. Hire a guide through the Rod & Gun Club for a more extensive wildlife-viewing excursion via Jeep.

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6. Amangani, Wyoming

Courtesy of Aman

It is entirely possible to get a glimpse of the American "big five" (wolves, bears, bison, moose and elk) at Amangani, a 40-suite resort 15 minutes from Jackson Hole. Private wildlife tours, via a BMW X5 or luxury Suburban, are customized for guests and vary in length depending on the season and destination, which can include Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

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To learn more about similar properties, view our Ranch hotel category page.

For more information about historic wildlife migrations in the Americas, visit American Prairie Reserve.

Contact our travel office to plan your American Safari or explore one of our sample itineraries below

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