You’ve waited. You’ve counted the days. You cursed the Chinese government for not allowing me to use wordpress while I was overseas. Don’t worry though, I literally traveled half way around the world to bring you the penultimate installment of our epic series, THE CUTEST ANIMAL IN EVERY NATIONAL PARK. You’re welcome.

If you missed the first installment, a couple of things: 1.) SHAME ON YOU, 2.) You can find it HERE

Before we get started, a reminder about how all this works:

Next month I have a quick story running on Backpacker‘s website: THE TOP TEN CUTEST ANIMALS IN OUR NATIONAL PARKS.

This is a dangerous task. If I screw the list up the internet will basically destroy me, so I decided to first choose the cutest animal in every national park using the following rules:

1.) Smaller is cuter.

2.) Fatter is cuter.

3.) Fluffier is cuter.

4.) The animal must be native.

5.) NO SNAKES. Snakes are not cute.

6.) In the end, the list is completely arbitrary.

Since I don’t want to spoil the final TOP 10 list, I’ve marked those that made final selection as REDACTED. You’ll have just have to read the article when it comes out some time in June (which I’ll link to HERE and on the Lesser Places homepage).

Haleakalā: Hawaiian Goose

Image Credit: Pauline Eccles, Wikimedia

Not a lot of choices for native animals in Haleakalā National Park, but these little fluff balls more than make up for it.

Hawaii Volcanoes: Honu

Image Credit: Manuel Heinrich Emha, Wikimedia

Did you think it was possible to hold this much cute in one hand?

Hot Springs: Green Tree Frog

Image Credit: National Parks Service

This little guy makes it easy being green.

Isle Royal: Gray Wolf

Image Credit: dobak, Flickr

“Maybe we could cuddle so I can warm up?”

Joshua Tree: Hoary Bat

Image Credit: Daniel Neal, Wikimedia

Big ears and tiny eyes? Count us in.


Kenai Fjords: REDACTED

King’s Canyon: Cougar

Image Credit: National Parks Service

Should you cuddle cougar cub? No. Do you want to cuddle cougar cubs? Definitely.

Kobuk Valley: American Marten Image Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Hi, I’m a marten. These flowers are for you.”

Lake Clark: Canada Lynx

Image Credit: National Parks Service

Because I’m all about that base.

Lassen Volcanic: Raccoon

Image Credit: Darkone, Wikimedia

God gave me this bandit mask so I could steal your heart.

Mammoth Cave: Eastern Spadefoot

Image Credit: Riechvaugen, Wikimedia

If any frog is going to turn into a prince it has to be this one.

Mesa Verde: Rufous Hummingbird

Image Credit: Ryan Bushby, Wikimedia

This entire list could have just been hummingbirds.

Mount Rainer: North American Porcupine

Image Credit: National Parks Service

This poor little guy probably hasn’t had a hug in a long time.

North Cascades: Mountain Beaver

Image Credit: Western Ecological Research Center

Mountain Beavers are also called giant moles. If you can think of something cuter than a giant mole, let me know.

Olympic: River Otter

Image Credit: Dimitry Azovtsev, Wikimedia

FACT: River otters love kisses.

Okay, I have to stop– we have already exceeded the daily recommended dosage of cute. I’ll be back with the final national parks, Petrified Forrest through Zion, before my story is posted next month.

Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on. 

7 thoughts on “THE CUTEST ANIMAL IN EVERY NATIONAL PARK: Haleakalā to Olympic

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