Wildlife in Bryce Canyon
While most people do not travel to different areas solely to see the wildlife, encountering the different native creatures that roam natural landscapes is certainly an exciting part of a visit. Not much else compares to the feeling of stumbling across a grazing deer or startling a quick little lizard. These brief interactions with the animals that call the Bryce Canyon landscape home will be remembered for years to come.
While in the Bryce Canyon area, there are many different animals that can be seen during a hike, bike ride, or other outdoor adventure. The fact that much of the wildlife in this area is unique to the southwestern United States makes seeing them that much more exciting. Most of the wildlife in Bryce is harmless, though there are a few creatures that are dangerous to humans. To maintain the safety of hikers and the animals when viewing wildlife in its natural habitat, it is important to keep a safe distance, don’t disturb the wildlife or its habitat, and to always respect the fact that hikers are entering the animals home, not the other way around.
The wildlife of Bryce Canyon lives along the cliffs, inside the canyons, in the water, the sky, and in all other areas of the beautiful landscape. Those who spend time in the park are bound to see a ground toad hopping along or a majestic bird of prey circling above. These glimpses of the native animals of Bryce help to make the experience of the park even more amazing and allow visitors to feel more connected to this incredible area.
Across the Land
The ground-dwelling animals of Bryce Canyon are some of the most amazing animals to see during a trip to the area. These animals use the entire landscape for food, water, and shelter so seeing them on a trip through the park, especially less popular areas, is very likely. Hikers who encounter these animals should keep their distance, avoid disturbing the animal, and wait for the animal to clear the area before proceeding. In the case of encountering a mountain lion or bear, visitors should vacate the area quickly and alert park officials of all mountain lion and bear sightings. When basic courtesy rules regarding wildlife are followed, seeing the land animals of Bryce Canyon can be a safe and thrilling experience.
At elevations around 8,000 feet, these curious creatures roam about the land. Pronghorns stay in the ponderosa pine forests and the black sagebrush meadows. They graze and rest in these areas, finding cover from predators in the thick growth. Pronghorns resemble antelope, but their antlers are a bit thicker and their bodies a bit bulkier. Visitors hoping to see these amazing creatures should head into the trails in the forests, either on foot or as part of a vehicle tour. Seeing a pronghorn prance along the forest is a magical experience.
While different species of deer are found across the world, there is something special about the mule deer of Bryce Canyon. These deer are a common animal to see throughout the park. Since hunting is not allowed on park grounds, they revel in the safety the park provides. Male mule deer will often have long antlers used to defend themselves against other deer and predators. While mule deer like to graze in more lush areas, they can be found roaming around the entire park. Just sharing the same ground as these incredible animals is a wonderful experience.
It is rare to see a mountain lion since they tend to shy away from people, but it is not unheard of for visitors to stumble upon them occasionally. Mountain lions, also called cougars, can grow to around three feet from shoulder to ground. Their size, speed, and agility make them a dominant predator. While they often feast on smaller animals and even livestock, mountain lions have been known to take down mule deer and larger animals. Their ability to take down large prey makes them dangerous to humans, as well. Hikers who encounter a mountain lion should remain calm, make themselves as large as possible, make lots of noise, and back away slowly. Generally, a mountain lion will run off, but hikers should always be prepared for the worst.
Up in the Sky
Soaring overhead, perched on a tree limb, or nesting on the side of a cliff, these are just a few of the places visitors may see the many native birds of Bryce. There are many different types of unique birds throughout Bryce Canyon, but these three are some of the most exciting to encounter.
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world. As they dive down to attack their prey, they can reach speeds of 240 miles per hour. With a wingspan of nearly four feet, seeing these falcons circle above is a magical experience. They frequently make their nests on the red rock cliffs, with some areas closing for them to nest. These amazing birds are one of the hallmarks of the American west, and seeing them during a visit to Bryce will complete the trip.
This adorable but bulky bird has bright blue feathers, like a blue jay, but with a dark head. They are about the same size as a blue jay, as well. They sing a beautiful song that fills the area. They are most likely to be seen in more lush parts of the Bryce Canyon backcountry since they frequently make their nests in the ponderosa pines. Seeing and hearing these amazing little creatures is a real treat.
Those who are lucky enough to see this amazing bird will never forget the experience. California Condors are extremely rare to see. In fact, it is estimated that there are only about 400 California Condors left in the United States. Luckily for those visiting Bryce Canyon, sometimes this amazing bird makes its way to the area. Their average weight is around twenty pounds and their wingspan can be as long as eleven feet. The unique look, size, and body of this bird are unmistakable, and seeing one on the ground or in the sky is a true blessing.
Among the Rocks and Water
While walking along riverside trails or hiking into deep canyons, visitors may walk past a hundred of these creatures without ever knowing it. The reptiles and amphibians of Bryce Canyon are masters of disguise, blending in with the surrounding red rock and sands. Those who pay close attention may catch a glimpse of these curious critters during a trip through the park.
This is one of the creatures in Bryce Canyon that can pose a serious risk to humans. The real danger in these snakes, other than their deadly venom, is the fact that they can camouflage themselves so well with the landscape. While they will usually rattle their tail as a warning, sometimes hikers will stumble across a Great-Basin Rattlesnake, resulting in a serious bite. Those who come across a rattlesnake should remain calm and walk slowly away from the reptile, keeping in mind that they have a very long striking distance. Rattlesnakes are more afraid of humans than humans are of them, so an encounter will usually be resolved with the snake retreating away. Never kill or harm a rattlesnake unless it is a life-threatening situation. Humans are intruding on their territory, not the other way around.
These curious little creatures are often, wrongly, referred to as horned toads or horny toads. They have short horns all over their squat bodies and tails. Visitors may see a short-horned lizard sitting upon a rock, keeping warm and waiting for a small bug to crawl by so that they can eat it. They blend into the surrounding area very well, so those hoping to see one should keep their eyes open while traveling on the rocky terrain.
Salamanders are amphibians, meaning they need to live near water to survive. They spend most of their time underground in holes they have burrowed. They can grow to nearly eight inches long and have dark brown or black bodies with yellow spots and stripes. They may be seen crawling in the deep areas of canyons or along streams or rivers. Visitors should always take care to not touch or hold wildlife, no matter how tempting it may be. Not only is it important to leave all wildlife alone, salamanders carry diseases that can make people sick.
Wild Encounters Await
For every traveler planning to head into Bryce Canyon, the prospect of seeing some of the areas native wildlife is thrilling. The unique animals that call Bryce Canyon home will surround visitors as they explore the area.
Those who are respectful to the wildlife and their natural habitat will find a connection with the land as they gaze upon these impressive animals. The memories made and pictures taken of the wildlife in Bryce Canyon will be an unforgettable part of every guest’s stay.