Posts Tagged ‘bighorn sheep’

Thanks All Around

Thursday, November 28th, 2013
View of Zion National Park main canyon

View of Zion National Park main canyon

Here at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, we have many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. With Zion National Park as our neighbor, and Bryce Canyon National Park a short drive away, the beautiful scenery that surrounds us is at the top of that list.

Wild Turkeys at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.

Wild Turkeys near Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Bighorn Sheep - Ram - Feeding on brush in thicket - Zion National Park

Bighorn Sheep Ram feeding on brush in Zion National Park

We’re grateful for the wildlife that call this area home. Bighorn sheep, deer, and wild turkeys are just a few of the species that live in these parts.
We’re also thankful for hardworking employees. This weekend marks the end of our full service offerings for the year, and we’re grateful for the employees who make Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort what it  is. Our vacation rentals are available throughout the winter season, but you’ll have to wait until next year to see our wonderful staff in action.

View from the porch of a cabin suite near Zion National Park

View from the porch of a cabin suite near Zion National Park

But most of all we’re grateful to our guests. Thank you for returning year after year and sharing your vacation with us. The guests at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort are wonderful and we wouldn’t be here without you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Summer in Zion

Monday, May 30th, 2011
Zion Park Cactus - Flora

Cactus in the Zion Park area

The rain has finally rolled away and left a freshly cleaned plateau behind. Here, above Zion National Park, the grass is bright green and the Ponderosa Pines brace against the wind that pushed the clouds away. Even that wind, warm and rich with the smell of summer, is now calming to a gentle breeze as it settles in for the hot, dry months ahead.

Summer in Zion reveals a world of beauty and adventure. Driving through the park, I saw blooming cacti and grazing bighorn sheep. Even as the streams dry up, the local wildlife is easily visible. Just yesterday I saw a big wild turkey strutting coolly across the road up near our vacation homes. These moments of connection with nature are a cherished memory anyone can make here at Zion Ponderosa. Even the least adventurous guests will feel closer to nature as they wander the paths of the ranch and soak up the summer.

The ranch is perfectly positioned to get the very best of Zion’s summer. From our high elevation, guests can walk into the park through several backcountry trails. Right now, the path from Jolly’s Gulch down to Canyon Overlook is marked by a stream. At one point, you can look out from the top of a waterfall. Later in the summer, the water dries up and leaves a stunning cliff-top view for hikers into the park.

Views of the Zion National Park region

Views from Zion Ponderosa

Another joy that summer in Zion brings is the clear night sky. This week, on a warm evening, I walked out to our paintball field, less than five minutes from the lodge. Even that near the lodge and cabins, the sky was clear and the stars were bright. Visible with the naked eye were the bears Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, Draco the Dragon, and Cassiopia. I even saw a shooting star.

Everywhere you turn here at Zion Ponderosa there is a new wonder to be found. A new smell on the air or a new view to gaze upon can surprise you even after days of walking the property. Take a moment each day you spend with us to look around you. Breathe deeply and slow down. In this place of beauty, find the sight, smell, or sound that most touches you. That memory can be cherished for years to come. Keep it and hold it.

Welcome to summer in Zion.

Bighorn Sheep – Zion National Park

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
Bighorn Sheep - Zion National Park - Near Zion Ponderosa

Bighorn Sheep - Zion National Park - Near Zion Ponderosa

Bighorn Sheep peering over cliff edge - Zion National Park

Bighorn Sheep peering over cliff edge - Zion National Park

Drive through the upper east-side of Zion National Park and it is not uncommon to come across one or two bighorn sheep.   In some cases you may get lucky and find a larger group of them foraging along the cliff-faces or within the confines of a lush alcove where the dining is best. 

Bighorn sheep were re-introduced to Zion National Park in the 1970′s.   Their is plenty of evidence that the desert bighorn sheep inhabited this area anciently but for many reasons the species did not survive.   Just 12 bighorn sheep were brought into the park and now their numbers range over 150. 

The picture to the left shows several bighorn sheep at the top of a cliff.   This picture was taken with a zoom lens of these animals that were sitting 500+ feet above the main road in the park.     These animals frequently move up and down the cliff-faces in Zion National Park to spend time on the upper plateaus or down in the canyons foraging for food.  

They are often hard to spot since they will frequently stand very still.   Their color helps them to blend in with the rocks, so in order to spot bighorn sheep you’ll either want to spend some time scanning the cliffs and looking for the tell-tale shapes of these animals.   You may get lucky and find them close to the road on the upper east-side of Zion.

If you happen to catch the bighorn sheep moving up or down a cliff-face, count yourself lucky.  Stop your vehicle or pause on your hike and spend some time watching them.   You’ll be amazed at their ability to negotiate what often appears to be a sheer vertical face on one of the formations within Zion.    Not only are these animals agile, but they are also very fast and, when necessary, they can travel at significant speeds across the rocky terrain of the park.  

These animals cover a lot of ground in any given day and range inside and outside the boundaries of the park.   If you are able to view the animals at a closer distance (often with zoom lens or binoculars) you will see that their hind-quarters protrude significantly beyond their rear legs.   This appears to act as a counter balance to their body movement and allows them to sit back on their haunches as they move down a cliff.

Bighorn Sheep - Ram - Feeding on brush in thicket - Zion National Park

Bighorn Sheep - Ram - Feeding on brush in thicket - Zion National Park

One friend of mine indicated that, while hiking in the park, he came across a mother and baby on a narrow ledge trail.   The mother realized that she and the baby had no course but to go down a steep rocky face to a larger ledge 30 feet below.   The mother sat back on her haunches and slid down the face with hooves clattering until she reached the larger ledge.    The baby sat hesitantly calling out to mom for reassurance and finally followed suit.   I imagine it was the first time the baby had done that and, like many youngsters, may have wanted to try it again. 

So now that you know a little more about the bighorn sheep in Zion National Park, grab your long-lens camera or binoculars and enjoy some time spotting these magnificent creatures.