U.S. national parks recorded more than 307 million visits in 2015, setting an all-time record. In a day when it seems everyone over the age of 8 carries a smartphone and posts photos online, tens of thousands of wildlife photos from America’s parks are now on the Internet. Some are absolutely breathtaking; many are laughably bad. But if you want to see truly great wildlife photos from America’s parks, it’s hard to find a better source than park rangers. They know the wildlife in their park — and they know where and when to find it. Here are just a few gems by rangers working for the National Park Service and their brethren at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
10. Family Portrait
These river otters take time out from whatever rivers otters do during the day to pose for a family photo at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri.
9. Ewe Moon
A bighorn sheep ewe surveys the terrain at Zion National Park.
8. Crowd Scene
Manatees are thick in the water in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. Endangered West Indian Manatees migrate to the warm water in the refuge each winter.
7. Hungry Like the Wolf
A wolf chases ravens and magpies from an elk carcass near Soda Butte in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is regarded as one of the best wildlife-viewing parks in the National Park System.
6. Proud Parents
The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania welcomed some new residents here — two baby bald eagles. It marked the first time eagles had nested and hatched chicks at the refuge.
5. Sun Spot
A collared lizard basks in the sun in Utah’s Arches National Park.
4. Antlers Up
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better collection of antlers than in this photo of an elk herd in Washington’s Hanford Reach National Monument.
3. Birds of a Feather
A couple of birders stake out Mrazek Pond in Everglades National Park.
2. Eat Your Veggies
The grizzly bear is commonly portrayed as a meat-eating predator that routinely snacks on campers and hikers. In reality, relatively few deaths are attributed to grizzly attacks, and the creatures actually prefer a diet of berries, fruit, leaves and nuts. Here, a trio of grizzlies snacks on vegetation in Alaska’s Denali National Park.
1. Good Kitties
Newborn mountain lion kittens are photographed in early 2016 by a National Park Service ranger in California’s Santa Monica Mountains. NPS researchers had been tracking the kittens’ mother for several years as part of a study on how mountain lions are coping in the increasingly urbanized area. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the U.S.