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7 Must-See Places for Reptile Lovers in the U.S.

Reptile lovers who travel always look for new and exciting places to view these scaly creatures.

Most people may think that you can only view these reptiles in specific areas of the world. However, that isn't true!

In reality, reptiles can be viewed just about anywhere on the planet, whether at a zoo, national preserve, wildlife park, or simply in your backyard!

The United States, in particular, is full of exciting spots to view and find reptiles, whether in the wild or captivity.

So, if you're a reptile lover currently in the U.S. or hoping to visit and want to know about a couple of spots to view your slither or crawling scaly obsession, keep reading to find out!

Destinations for Reptile Lovers

Juvenile rattlesnake in Cannonville, Utah, where reptile lovers have lots of species to look for (photo: Cy Lindberg / Unsplash)
Juvenile rattlesnake in Cannonville, Utah (photo: Cy Lindberg / Unsplash)

1. Zion National Park – Utah

The United States' first-ever National Park, Zion, is in Southwest Utah.

In the rocks and canyons of this 229 square miles of red rock landscape, a reptile lover can quickly run across a plethora of different lizards, snakes, and tortoises, such as:

  • The Western Banded Gecko, Great Basin Collared Lizard, Desert Spiny Lizard, Gila Monster, and Western Skink.
  • Whipsnakes, Gartersnakes, Rattlesnakes, Kingsnakes, and Patch-nosed snakes.
  • The Desert Tortoise.

You can also take the park's canyon shuttle to soak in some stunning views. And don't forget to learn about the area's rich pioneer and Native American history while you're there.

Ring-necked snake in Texas (photo: Melissa McMasters / Flickr)
Ring-necked snake in Texas (photo: Melissa McMasters / Flickr)

2. Franklin Mountain State Park – Texas

Franklin Mountain State Park, located in El Paso, Texas,  is one of the largest state parks in the U.S.

It covers 26,000 acres of rocky canyons, desert mountains, and grasslands full of different reptile species.

If you're traveling to El Paso, you'll be happy to know that the state park sits within the city limits, so a car, bus, or taxi should get you there just fine.

A couple of reptiles you'll be able to find in the area include:

  • The Eastern Collared Lizard, Ornate Tree Lizard, and Greater Earless Lizard.
  • Texas Banded Gecko, Common Checkered Whiptail, and Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail.
  • The Ring-necked Snake, Chihuahuan Nightsnake, Southwestern Blackhead Snake, and Eastern Patch-nosed Snake.
  • Big Bend Patchnose Snake and a few venomous rattlesnake species like the Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnake (so be careful!).

Related: Things to Do in Big Bend National Park

American Alligator in Gainesville, Florida (photo: Joshua J. Cotten / Unsplash)
American Alligator in Gainesville, Florida (photo: Joshua J. Cotten / Unsplash)

3. Everglades National Park – Florida

If there's one thing Florida is known for, it's its animals. After all, it's one of the few places in the U.S. with many different species that you can only find there. In short, it's a reptile lover's dream!

The Everglades National Park, a 1.5 million acre plot of nothing but wetlands and animals, is one of the best places to look at reptiles. It's even ranked as one of the top four national parks in the U.S.

A couple of reptiles you should be able to find in this vast national park include:

  • Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caiman.
  • Anoles, geckos, iguanas, skinks, and lizards galore.
  • Kingsnakes, boa constrictors, rat snakes, water snakes, and corn snakes, to name a few.
  • Turtles and tortoises.

Everglades National Park has a ton of different tours you can go on, including bus tours, regular boat tours, and airboat tours.

4. Mojave National Preserve – California

If you plan on traveling to the west coast, the Mojave National Preserve in Essex, California, is the place to go for reptile lovers.

This National Preserve stretches through California's beautiful Mojave desert, teeming with reptilian life.

A couple of reptiles to look out for would include:

  • The Chuckwalla, Western banded gecko, Gila monster, Great basin collared lizard, and desert iguana.
  • Kingsnakes, gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, and glossy snakes.
  • Desert tortoise

Dirt and paved roads have been established throughout this park, allowing visitors to drive through the entire desert.

However, extra care must be placed to ensure you don't harm any of the natural wildlife in the area.

5. The Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

One of the most well-known national parks on this list is the Grand Canyon in Arizona; this park encompasses more than 200 miles of rivers and canyons.

Shuttle buses make navigating this vast national park easy and give you the time to soak in all the beauty.

The park is home to 22 snake, 18 lizard, and one tortoise species, including:

  • The greater short-horned lizard, Gila monster, and yellow-backed spiny lizard.
  • Gopher snakes and rattlesnakes
  • The Desert Tortoise

A few snake species in this park and the Gila Monster are venomous. Therefore, visitors should only look at reptiles from a safe distance.

6. Reptile Gardens – South Dakota

Reptile Gardens, located in Southern Rapid City, South Dakota, has grown into one of the largest reptile zoos in the world.

During your visit, you should easily be able to see reptile species, including:

  • Crocodiles and Alligators
  • Turtles and tortoises
  • An abundance of different lizards, including Gila monsters and Komodo Dragons
  • A bunch of different snake species, including the venomous Cottonmouth and Copperhead snakes

The grounds are also home to a beautiful botanical garden, many other non-reptile animal species to learn about, and a cafe to relax in during downtime.

Reptile lovers should no doubt be able to have a blast on their trip here.

Related: The Truth About Deadly Animals in Australia

Reptile lovers may enjoy seeing the common snapping turtle (photo: Jene Yeo / Unsplash)
Common snapping turtle (photo: Jene Yeo / Unsplash)

7. Nashville Zoo – Tennessee

Last but certainly not least, we have The Nashville Zoo. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Nashville Zoo has an impressive array of reptiles in their Unseen New World, Critter Encounters, and Alligator Cove exhibits.

A couple of these reptiles include:

  • The caiman lizard, Haitian Giant Galliwasp, Green Crested Basilisk, and Mexican Beaded Lizard.
  • The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Eyelash Palm Pit Viper, Green Anaconda, and Northern Copperhead.
  • The American Alligator and Dwarf Caiman
  • The Alligator Snapping Turtle, Aldabra Tortoise, Mata Mata, and Galapagos Tortoise

If you want to look at other animals, the zoo has a ton of different exhibits to check out that are full of fun and interesting information.

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