10 Urban Wilderness Areas for Wildlife in Cities | askBAMLand

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Imagine a city where the buzz of traffic intertwines with the chirping of birds; where skyscrapers are mirrored by towering trees that are home to a vast array of urban wildlife.

Doesn't that sound utterly fascinating?

Cities are no longer just concrete jungles; they're transforming into urban wilderness havens teeming with diverse wildlife.

These oases offer a unique blend of city life and natural landscapes, where animals and humans coexist.

Gone are the days when wilderness and urban areas were considered separate entities.

Today, cities across the United States acknowledge the importance of green spaces for biodiversity and have integrated areas like Denver's Roxborough State Park and Austin's Zilker Nature Preserve into the urban fabric.

This not only enhances the quality of life for residents but also ensures that wildlife flourishes within the city limits, presenting a harmonious balance between development and nature conservation.

Key Takeaways

  • Urban wilderness areas are transforming cities into eco-friendly spaces.
  • Wildlife is thriving in the heart of several American cities.
  • Integrating nature into urban planning benefits both residents and wildlife.

Table of Contents

Roxborough State Park, Denver, Colorado

Have you ever craved an escape to nature without straying too far from the city?

Well, Roxborough State Park is your perfect respite.

Nestled just 25 miles south of Denver, its red sandstone formations aren't just a feast for your eyes; they're an official National Natural Landmark.


  • Black bears
  • Mountain lions
  • Mule deer

History: Artifacts found here whisk you back to a time when prehistoric hunter-gatherers thrived, tool-making and farming from 5000 BC to 1000 AD.

Are you ready for a calming stroll or perhaps an exhilarating hike?

Roxborough’s paths wind through a geological treasure trove, with unique ecological systems to sate your natural curiosity.

With your camera in hand, you might snap a photo of a bumbling black bear or a stealthy mountain lion—from a safe distance, of course.

And what about keeping the eyes peeled for the graceful mule deer?

That’s wilderness within city reach.

When’s the best time to visit for you?

Monday through Sunday every week, peace and excitement await.

Remember, it's a day park, so plan accordingly and soak up every moment your day trip permits.

So, lace up your boots, pack your sense of adventure, and head to Roxborough State Park.

It’s not just a walk in the park; it’s a walk with history, wrapped in stunning geography, topped with wildlife encounters.

And it's all just a stone's throw from your urban doorstep.

Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California

Have you ever felt the urge to escape the city buzz and immerse yourself in nature without really leaving the city?

Well, Griffith Park in Los Angeles is your urban oasis.

Sprawling over 4,210 acres of Californian landscape, Griffith Park is hailed as the largest municipal park with urban wilderness in the United States.

That's a whole lot of nature waiting for you to explore!

Wildlife and Terrain

  • Home to the iconic mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains
  • Varied topography ranging from 384 to 1,625 feet above sea level
  • Natural chaparral-covered terrain and landscaped parkland

What Can You Do Here?

  • Go picnicking in vast, grassy expanses
  • Hike along the many trails that lace the park
  • Visit the Griffith Observatory for stunning views and stargazing
  • Spot wildlife as you meander through this urban wilderness

The park's history is just as rich as its biodiversity.

It was a generous gift from Colonel Griffith J.

Griffith to the City of Angels back in 1896, making it older than a century!

It nestles in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, providing not just recreation but also a crucial habitat for wildlife.

Let's talk specifics.

Ever thought a stone's throw away from Hollywood you'd find natural habitats and wildlife corridors?

That's exactly what Griffith Park offers.

Along with connecting the urban and the wild, there are plans to create wildlife mobility near Liberty Canyon.

Yes, right amidst the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles!

Next time you're looking for a getaway that doesn't actually 'get you away,' remember Griffith Park is right there in your backyard, Los Angeles.

Get ready for some outdoor fun, and who knows, a mountain lion, albeit from a safe distance, might just photobomb your selfie!

Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington D.C.

Have you ever felt the urge to escape the city bustle without actually leaving the city?

Theodore Roosevelt Island offers just that!

Nestled in the middle of the Potomac River, accessible from both Washington, D.C., and Virginia, this 88.5-acre forested oasis is a tribute to an avid naturalist and the nation's 26th president.

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 88.5 acres
  • Location: Potomac River, between Georgetown and Rosslyn
  • Managed by: National Park Service as part of George Washington Memorial Parkway

What Can You See There?

  • Birdlife: Keep an eye out for ospreys and herons gliding over the water or perched in the trees.
  • Trails: Miles of pathways will guide you through this verdant landscape, from swampy bottoms to wooded uplands.

Once overgrown farmland, landscape architects transformed the area into a "real forest" - a deliberate effort to replicate the natural woodlands that once flourished here.

Imagine, a wilderness in the heart of our nation's capital.

Did you know?

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island was the first living presidential memorial in D.C.
  • During the Civil War, it served as a training camp for Union soldiers.

You're not just visiting a park, but walking through history and a living tribute to a great conservationist.

Isn't it fascinating that right here amidst the urban environment, you can find a testament to America's dedication to preserving nature?

Just hop on the footbridge from the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and you're there.

Adventure awaits you amidst the trees and along the riverbanks!

What will you discover on your urban escape?

Forest Park, Portland, Oregon

Have you ever imagined escaping into a wilderness right in the heart of a bustling city?

Welcome to Forest Park, the green gem tucked away in the Tualatin Mountains just west of downtown Portland, Oregon.

Picture this: more than 5,000 acres of dense forest eagerly waiting for you to explore.

Sounds invigorating, doesn't it?

Forest Park is not just any ordinary park.

It's one of the largest urban forest reserves in the United States.

Here's what you can expect to find:

  • Trails Galore: With over 70 miles of paths, which way will your adventure take you? You can stroll, hike, cycle, or ride a horse. Yes, choose your own path and delve right in.
  • Wildlife Abound: The park is a haven for wildlife, supporting a bustling community of over 112 bird species and 62 mammals. Keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready for those candid wildlife shots!
Quick Facts About Forest Park
Size: Over 5,100 acres
Trails: 70+ miles
Wildlife: 112+ bird species, 62+ mammal species

It's not often that you find a wilderness area so rich with life that also plays a vital role as a city's lung, providing necessary air filtering.

Forest Park does just that, and it's a spectacular sight to behold, especially when the morning mist rolls through the towering trees.

Whether you're aiming to break a sweat on the Wildwood Trail or simply enjoy a tranquil walk with your furry friend (leashed, of course), Forest Park is your urban escape.

Grab your boots or your bike, because your next adventure awaits amidst Portland's majestic green backdrop.

It's wilderness whispering a welcome right on your doorstep.

Ready to step out?

Central Park, New York City, New York

Have you ever been to an urban oasis?

Well, Central Park in the heart of New York City is just that!

Spanning from 59th to 110th St, this green haven is framed by 5th Ave and Central Park West.

Think of Central Park as an escape: a place where 18,000 trees stand tall to offer a cooling canopy and a breath of fresh air amidst bustling city life.

A Sanctuary for Birds and More:

  • Wildlife Watchers’ Paradise: Home to an array of wildlife, Central Park is particularly famous among birdwatchers. Why, you ask? Because it's a vital stopover for migratory birds!
  • Cooling Effect: The trees play a crucial role in mitigating the urban heat island effect, making the park not just a place for leisure but also a public health asset.

Helping our Feathered Friends: When you see the local wildlife, remember, human food isn't for them!

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Don't feed the animals
  • Keep the park clean
  • Spot a sick or injured animal? Dial 311 to reach the Urban Park Rangers

Visit Responsibly: Next time you go:

  • Take advantage of the shade
  • Enjoy the calm atmosphere
  • Remember: You're in one of the most bustling cities in the world, yet in the midst of nature!

If you think this spot is merely for the birds, think again.

It’s a nature hub tailored for your dose of calm and a testimony to the power of preserving nature in urban spaces.

Isn’t it incredible how a plot of nature can thrive among skyscrapers?

So grab your walking shoes, and don’t forget your binoculars.

Central Park is waiting for you!

Discovery Park, Seattle, Washington

Ever found yourself longing for a slice of the wild in the heart of the city?

Discovery Park is your answer in Seattle, Washington.

Imagine this: 534 acres of breathtaking natural beauty—all within a whisper of the city's hustle and bustle.

Pretty cool, right?

Let’s dive into what makes this park a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

First off, picture yourself wandering along miles of protected tidal beaches.

Feel the sand underfoot, the briny scent of the sea filling your lungs—this is urban wilderness at its finest.

It's not just a feast for the senses, though.

These beaches are a boon for wildlife, offering a sanctuary for creatures large and small.

  • Explore: Open meadows and stunning sea cliffs
  • Wildlife Watch: Eagles soaring above and herons fishing along the water's edge

Got a thing for the woods?

You’re in luck!

The park's entangled forest groves are a verdant escape from the urban grind.

They're the lungs of the city, giving you that fresh, oxygen-rich air that you crave.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Discovery Park is situated on Magnolia Bluff?

This spot gifts you with unparalleled views of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges.

Bold, sweeping vistas that are perfect for your next Instagram story or, better yet, to simply savor in the moment.

Quick Facts What You Need to Know
Acreage 534 acres
Location Magnolia Bluff, Seattle
Best For Views, wildlife, hiking, relaxation
Nature’s Neighbors Eagles, herons, and more
Picnic Perfect? Absolutely! Bring a blanket and some snacks

Whether you're an eagle-eyed birder or someone who just needs a break from your screen, Discovery Park is your city retreat.

Don’t forget your camera or binoculars—between the wildlife and the views, you’ll want them.

Enjoy the natural splendor, and remember: this urban oasis is here for you, any day of the week.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Have you ever wondered what wilderness wonders hide in the heart of San Francisco?

Golden Gate Park is your answer, a true natural refuge right within the bustling city streets!

Covering an astonishing 1,017 acres, this park isn't just about the stunning backdrops and skyline views.

Did you know Golden Gate Park is a sanctuary for a variety of wildlife?

Yes, we're talking about more than just squirrels and pigeons.

Coyotes, raccoons, and an array of bird species call this urban oasis home.

Imagine strolling through and spotting a coyote in the wild—how thrilling!

Here's a snapshot of what makes Golden Gate Park so special:

  • Acres of Nature: 680 forested acres and 130 acres of meadows
  • Water Bodies: 33 acres of lakes to enjoy
  • Drive and Stroll: Over 15 miles of drives winding through the park

And for those who love facts and figures, you'll be amazed to know that Golden Gate Park is the third-most-visited urban park in the country.

With over 24 million visitors a year, it's a hot spot for tourists and locals alike.

You won't run out of things to do here with attractions like the de Young Museum, San Francisco Botanical Garden, and the Japanese Tea Garden tucked among the greenery.

It's free, which is quite the deal considering how much is on offer.

So, are you ready to explore the trails, gardens, and wildlife of Golden Gate Park the next time you're in San Francisco?

Grab your walking shoes, and let's go wild in the city!

Zilker Nature Preserve, Austin, Texas

Ever felt the urge to trade buzzing city life for the rustle of leaves and the sights of wildlife?

Well, tucked within Austin's iconic Zilker Park lies such a treasure – the Zilker Nature Preserve.

Imagine exploring a serene habitat that's smack-dab in the middle of an urban sprawl!

  • Address: 301 Nature Center Dr, Austin, TX 78746
  • Hours: Open daily from 5 am to 10 pm

Here's what you need to know:

Get Acquainted with Nature

With a footprint that makes it hard to miss, Zilker Nature Preserve is your go-to spot for a dose of nature.

You're invited to amble along its trails, which can feel like they've been plucked from a storybook.

Fancy a morning jog or a quiet meditation at dusk?

The preserve welcomes you every day from dawn till dusk.

Welcoming Wildlife

The preserve isn't just a haven for humans; it's a bustling hub for local wildlife.

Keep your eyes peeled for a chance to spot some of the native species that call this little oasis home.

Doing Your Part

Feeling generous?

The Austin Parks Foundation would be over the moon if you chose to donate or volunteer.

Your efforts help keep Austin's parks, including this gem, well-maintained and thriving.

Need to sneak away from city clatter?

Remember, Zilker Nature Preserve is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Grab your walking shoes, and who knows, maybe you'll bump into a squirrel or two!

Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Madison, Wisconsin

Hey there, nature enthusiast!

Ever wondered if wildlife thrives amid the urban sprawl?

Madison's Lakeshore Nature Preserve is your living proof, sitting pretty on the shores of Lake Mendota.

Imagine a sanctuary where the chatter of busy city life is replaced by birdsong and rustling leaves.

Whether you're a dedicated birder or a curious wanderer, this slice of wilderness is a dreamy escape.

Here's why you'll love it:

  • Opening Hours: Escape the city buzz from 4 AM to 10 PM daily! That's right, you've got all day to discover.
  • Parking Decoded: Park stress-free within the same hours. Note to self: no parking after hours or you're getting a ticket!

What's in Store?

  • Wildlife Haven: Natural habitats bustling with wildlife are right around the corner. Bring your binoculars; you're in for a treat!
  • Educational Experience: Those with an insatiable curiosity will find an outdoor classroom at the Preserve. Learn about ecosystems, conservation, and much more.
  • Research Opportunities: For you knowledge seekers and future scientists, it's a vital field research site.


  • Photo Ops: With stunning landscapes, don't forget to snap a photo or two.
  • Guided Walks: Check for scheduled walks with local experts. It's both fun and enlightening—double win!

Remember, this place is as much yours as it is the critters'.

So while you're there, tread softly and leave only footprints.

After all, sharing space with the wild is a privilege that the Lakeshore Nature Preserve offers generously.

Isn't it amazing that such a place exists smack-dab in the hustle of Madison?

Franklin Park, Boston, Massachusetts

Have you ever longed for a taste of the wilderness without leaving the city?

Welcome to Franklin Park in Boston, Massachusetts, your urban oasis!

Nestled in the heart of Boston, this treasured green space forms the largest part of the city's celebrated "Emerald Necklace" and is a paradise for both wildlife and city dwellers alike.

Features at a Glance:

  • Size: 527 acres
  • Location: Geographical center of Boston
  • Attractions: Woods, golf course, scenic views

Wildlife & Natural Beauty:

  • The Wilderness: 65-acre area with winding paths
  • Home to old-growth trees, bluebirds, and even geese.

Feel the crunch of old granite steps under your feet as you explore the remnants of undeveloped woods, affectionately known as The Wilderness.

Imagine stumbling upon this hidden gem, with its dense canopy and the scent of pine lingering in the air.

Activities for You:

  • Hiking through stands of oaks, hemlocks, and pines
  • Discovering rock outcroppings and hillocks on cleverly laid paths
  • Observing the local biodiversity in action

Why not swap the concrete jungle for the serenity of Franklin Park?

It's not only a hub for community life with sports fields and walking trails, but it's also a significant contributor to the area's biodiversity.

With the Franklin Park Coalition focusing on conservation efforts, you're also part of a larger movement to keep urban wildlife thriving.

So, grab your hiking boots and binoculars, and be ready to be surprised by the natural wonders that await you at Franklin Park, right in your backyard.

Isn't it just perfect?


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

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