ZION NATIONAL PARK ANIMALS
Zion National Park Animals
Zion National Park is home to some of the most iconic and breathtaking scenery on this planet. Travelers from around the world flock to the red caverns to be mesmerized by the sheer cliff faces and towering rock structures. But, did you know visitors also come prepared to be amazed by the animals you can find in Zion National Park?
Zion National Park has been noted to contain 68 species of mammals. In fact, you could come face-to-face with a wide array of animals ranging from mule deer, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, and foxes, just to name a few.
The key to having a successful sighting in the park is to know where to look. Below we will walk through where to find animals in Zion National Park.
If you are looking to spot a rock squirrel, head towards rocky terrain. Just as their name suggests, rock squirrels love to be by rocky terrain, canyon walls, and waterways. If you are walking on the Riverside Walk, take a look at the sand baths. Odds are a rock squirrel will be frolicking and playing around to cool off from the hot summer sun.
Did you know a ringtail cat is a relative of the raccoon? There are quite a few of these small animals who call Zion National Park their home, but why are they rarely seen? These small omnivores are known to avoid crowds. They prefer to emerge in total darkness and can be spotted maneuvering the high cliffs and narrow ledges.
It’s almost a guarantee that you will see wild turkeys at Zion National Park, especially during spring. Once native to Utah, wild turkeys disappeared for many years. There were many efforts to reintroduce them, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that this turkey population re-established itself. Today, there are roughly 20,000 wild turkeys contributing to the wildlife of Zion National Park. Unlike farm-raised turkeys, wild turkeys are often leaner and have longer legs. And don’t be surprised if you see one fly. Wild turkeys can fly short distances, like up into trees at night to roost.
Set your eyes high in the sky if you are looking to spot a mountain lion. These large majestic creatures can be found prowling around the high plateaus of Zion or in the backcountry of Zion. These animals typically avoid the crowded areas of the park.
A mule deer is one of the largest mammals you can find in Zion National Park and it also happens to be one of the most common to site. Why? They frequent the Virgin River waterway to get a drink, graze and cool off from the summer heat.
Did you know they are named for one of their ingenious adaptations to the scorching heat? Their large mule-like ears help cool off the animal because the 9-inch ears that sit on the top of their heads allow more blood vessels to be closer to the skin’s surface allowing heat to disperse more evenly on a hot day.
If you are looking to see bighorn sheep, the best place to visit is between the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel and East Entrance. It is there, these agile climbers spend their days exploring the steep hillside and the sheer hill also serves as a protection against predators such as the mountain lion.
These small creatures are extremely adaptable which allows them to thrive in the desert environment. Gray foxes tend to live in thick vegetation or near forested riverbanks. A common place to spot a fox would be around the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. An important thing to note, foxes are mostly nocturnal (come out at night), so they are rarely seen by visitors.
Next time you visit Zion National Park, keep your eyes peeled. You never know when you will encounter one of the many species who call the park their home.
Please remember it is not safe to approach any wildlife in the park. All wildlife should be photographed and viewed at a safe distance for both you and the animal.