Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



American Trail

Explore the treasures of North American Wildlife

In a beautifully renovated area of the Zoo, guests can wander through landscaped trails and discover unparalleled opportunities to come face-to-face with California sea lions, watch playful beavers and otters, admire the classic beauty of eagles and wolves, and splash and play in a kid-friendly tide pool.

American Trail showcases species that are gems of North American wildlife, and treasures to us all. These animals represent the triumph of the American spirit and conservation success stories. The majority of American Trail species have rebounded after facing severe threats. Many of the residents of American Trail have been listed as endangered. Conservation efforts—including efforts made by the National Zoo—have helped their populations recover and thrive.

Come visit California sea lions, gray seals, harbor seals, bald eagles, gray wolves, ravens, beavers, river otters, brown pelicans, and merganser ducks, and marvel at the diversity of America's treasures.

Learn more about the exhibit and the dazzling array of animals and fun features.


As visitors move down the American Trail, the landscape and flora of Rock Creek gives way to the rocky shores of the coast. Oaks and poplars give way to evergreens. Ferns begin to pepper the landscape. Trees and bushes will take on a windswept look—the forces of nature shape the native life. The sound of falling water—first detected above the Zoo’s river otters—will be heard. Forest opens onto a basalt coast as the trail nears its final landmark, an underwater sea cave offering an extraordinary view of life below the water's surface.

In addition to marveling at the diverse animals on exhibit—sea lions, seals, beavers, ravens, river otters, wolves, and bald eagles—visitors can get their feet wet in an artificial tide pool and touch model sea creatures.

As visitors leave American Trail, they carry with them a greater appreciation of the life that thrives where land and water meet, of the differences between these animals and us, and of the delicate balance that is our responsibility to protect.

Seafood Watch

How can you help protect ocean environments for seals, sea lions, pelicans and other species? Make smart choices about the seafood you put on your dinner plate. While the world’s oceans may seem to contain unlimited amounts of fish and other sea life; destructive fishing practices are destroying and polluting ocean habitats and depleting fish populations faster than they can reproduce.

You can make a difference by learning more about the different fishing techniques and which are best for the environment as well as what seafood choices will help sustain a healthy ocean ecosystem.

And next time you're in the mood for seafood, make a difference!