From the Berkshire highlands in the state’s western reaches, to the sprawling wetlands of its centre and the majestic coastal spots on its eastern edge, Massachusetts boasts a real range of natural habitats and outdoors environments. This has helped to make it a magnet for wildlife lovers and ecotourists making their way through North America; a destination so unique and peppered with animals both large and small, it simply can’t be missed.
Here is a list of Hopper’s picks for the best places to see the wondrous wildlife of Massachusetts in all its glory; from the dam-building beaver, to the plodding Blanding’s turtle. Enjoy!
Located just outside of Boston city, this protected reserve remains one of the most famous wetland areas in all of Massachusetts. It is home to one of the largest groups of Blanding's turtle in the region, not to mention a real variety of other river-dwelling animals. Visitors can walk the Dike Trail right across the reserve’s famous wetlands, stopping at the large observation deck along the way for panoramic views of the area and one of the best wildlife-spotting vantage points around.
The Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary sits deep in inland Massachusetts, just a few miles from the border with New York State. It is home to a web of well-managed nature trails and its very own wildlife-spotting boardwalk, where guests are invited to come and see American beavers working away in the water below. Other highlights include the Pike’s Pond viewing platform, from where regular sightings of the park’s most famous inhabitant are reported, and the dramatic mountain panoramas on offer from the tip of Lenox Mountain.
This wondrous natural cocktail of beachfronts, sand dunes, riparian grasslands, wetlands, swamps, sand plain heaths and coastal brackets is not only a beauty to behold, but also one of the best wildlife-spotting destinations in all of Massachusetts. With such an array of different habitats to explore, visitors are able to spot a wealth of sea birds and a whole host of other coastal animals, while the calm waters and pleasant freshwater ponds make for some great swimming spots and recreation opportunities.
Located in the heart of Massachusetts, just a short drive west of Boston, the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge boasts an array of forest and river habitats that are literally teeming with wildlife. Once a training location for the US army, the site has been managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service since the turn of the millennium, and today visitors are invited to explore the meandering nature trails, where the American beaver, the blue heron and the Blanding’s turtle can all be found.
Enveloped by the Atlantic Ocean on the far south side of the Cape Cod Peninsula, the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge occupies more than 7,000 acres of protected coastal habitats. Lying just metres above sea level, the terrain is a patchwork of sandy beaches and undulating dunes, all peppered with pools of grassy seawater. This makes it the perfect grazing spot for the rare roseate tern, along with the red-beaked American oystercatcher and the elusive piping plover. Put simply, a bird-watcher’s dream.