The Great Eight Beasts of North America

The wildlife of northern America and Canada is much like its landscape – unique, untamed and beautiful. From the big bad wolf to the mighty moose, this is the home of iconic creatures from bedtime stories and nature documentaries the world over.

Join us on a tour here and see how many of these Great Eight beasts you can spot for yourself!

The Grizzly Bear

Reaching heights of up to 8ft tall when upright, grizzly bears are an impressive sight. But despite their size, they mainly get by on nuts and berries, with the odd rodent, moose and salmon thrown in when available. When the salmon are plentiful, each bear uses its own fishing technique, learnt as a cub from its mother and perfected as an adult with its long, razor-sharp claws and quick reflexes. Table manners are often forgotten.

Spot grizzly bears on our tours in Canada, including Via Rail & the Canadian Rockies, Canadian Rockies and Majestic Rockies.

The Gray Wolf

There may not be any creature as beautiful, arresting or as universally respected throughout human culture as the wolf. Skilled hunters, they are also playful and highly sociable within their packs. Keep your eyes peeled around dusk if you want to catch a glimpse of these nocturnal animals - and don't be alarmed if you hear that archetypal howl. It's a wolf-to-wolf thing.

Look out for North America’s iconic gray wolves on a two-night stay in Yellowstone National Park on our Geysers to Glaciers and our Exploring America’s Great Parks tours.

The Humpback Whale

To see a humpback whale throw its colossal bulk out of the water and crash back down again with a thunderous clap is a display of power that will leave you awestruck. Alaska offers plenty of chances to catch one of these impressive performances, especially memorable from the viewing platform of an intimate cruise ship that’s built to bring you closer to Alaska’s incredible sights.

Go humpback whale-watching on our Colourful Newfoundland, our Highlights of Alaska and Inside Passage and our Spectacular Alaska tours.

The North American Elk

The great north American cousin of the deer, you are more likely to hear the north American elk before you see it. Their high-pitched, whistling roars ring out across the landscape during rutting season (autumn), an eerie whale-like song. Stay focused and you’ll catch sight of their dark chestnut coats fleeting through the Canadian wilderness.

Spot elk on our tour of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies.

The Bald Eagle

Symbolic of the USA, the bald eagle in fact has a full head of white feathers – the word ‘bald’ is Old English for ‘white’. Found all over North USA and Canada, this fearsome predator can dive up to 99mph. But don’t worry, it’s pretty much pescatarian (mainly eats fish).

Keep an eye on the sky for bald eagles on our Canadian Rockies and Colourful Newfoundland tours.

The Bison

This shaggy-coated north American buffalo is ‘ecologically extinct’ as a wild species, with fewer than 5,000 wild pedigree bison roaming free. Of these, you’ll find around 4,000 in Yellowstone National Park, where they can spread out across 3,500sq m of prairies, canyons, rivers, forests and hot springs.

Spot the mighty bison in Yellowstone Park on our Parks and Canyons Spectacular and Geysers to Glaciers tours.

The Bighorn Sheep

If they were ever in a survival competition, the bighorn sheep of the Rocky Mountains would leave our docile English breeds blinking lazily into the sun. With extremely sharp eyesight and long-range vision, an acute sense of smell and excellent hearing, American bighorn are built to survive the predators that live on the rugged terrain of the Rockies. Their climbing ability is down to one very clever evolutionary gain: their toes pinch, which means they can balance in seemingly impossible places.

See them for yourself on our Heart of the Canadian Rockies and new Spirit of the Canadian Rockies tours.

The Moose

The largest and mightiest of the deer family, the moose is known as a symbol of Canada. You’ll find them across the entire country, right from the eastern tip of Newfoundland up to Alaska. They get rather warm in the summer, so you might see them taking a dip in their nearest lake or river – they’re excellent swimmers.

Look out for moose on our Grand Western Canada, Ultimate Alaska and the Yukon and our Canadian Rockies tours.

Spot the Great Eight for yourself on these tours