fbpx

Watching Wildlife in Canyonlands National Park

Since the Canyonlands can appear quiet and deserted to the average visitor, it’s often assumed there isn’t much wildlife viewing to take in at the park. That could not be more wrong! A diverse collection of birds, lizards, and some rodents are frequently spotted when traversing the park, dependent upon weather and time of year.

In order to adapt to the desert, most of these animals will be nocturnal, meaning they are only active at night to reserve their hydration levels during the day. Of course, there are a few animals in the park that break that cycle, including rock squirrels, antelope squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, snakes, hawks, and eagles.

Nearly 50 species of mammals are known to live in the Canyonlands, many of which are smaller species due to the lack of water and intense sunlight.

The Canyonland’s Top Animals

  • Kangaroo Rats
    • Uniquely adapted to living in the desert, the kangaroo rat lives its entire life on nothing but plant matter. It produces its own water by metabolizing the food it eats, which means it doesn’t need to find a water source to survive. The rats spend the hottest hours of the day sleeping in their cool underground burrows.
  • Mule Deer
  • Woodrats
  • Ringtails
  • Foxes
  • Bobcats
  • Mountain Lions
  • Bats
  • Owls
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep
    • Yes, there is a variety of bighorn sheep suited just for the desert. These animals roam the talus slopes and the side canyons along the rivers as their water source. Once on the brink of becoming extinct, these sheep have made a big comeback in the Canyonlands.

Viewing Locations

Talus Slopes: Desert bighorn sheep
Side Canyons: Desert bighorn sheep, mule deer
Salt Creek Canyon: Bears
The Needles: Bears

When Should You Go?

During the winter months, the reptiles in the park disappear and hibernate due to the cold temperatures. However, during the brutal summer months between August and early October, visitors are more likely to catch sight of a black bear in the canyons as they descend to enjoy the pear cactus and hackberry trees.

If you are planning to visit the Canyonlands in the summer, pack plenty of water and do your hiking in the early morning or evening hours. As a desert region, it can also get cold enough to snow in winter. Pack accordingly!

Published
Categorized as Wildlife Tagged

The Canyon Quest Road Trip

The Canyon Quest road trip will take you across Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, where you will visit the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, and Glen Canyon!

If you are looking for a retreat from Spring through Fall, this road trip can be the perfect itinerary. Although the trip traditionally takes about two weeks to complete, we recommend more time if you want to camp and hike in every park. If you’re flying in, we recommend booking flights through Las Vegas in Nevada, Salt Lake City in Utah, or Phoenix in Arizona.


Grand Canyon National Park

If you have not heard about this National park, then you might well have been living under a rock. The Grand Canyon National Park is the most iconic natural treasures of the United States.

The Grand Canyon is widely admired for the extensive range of colorful rocks that vary in shape, size and depth. The lookout points across the park provide you with stellar views. We recommend hiking on your own or joining a ranger-led tour, which will often detail the full natural history of the Canyon.

Zion National Park

Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Hoodoos, yes you read that correctly, are what make this national park a site to see. The national park is home to the largest cluster of hoodoos or more descriptively, irregular columns of rock, that are situated across the high plateau of the Grand Staircase. During your visit, explore one of the countless trails that exist in the park to discover the true beauty of the location. Like the Grand Canyon National Park, you can take part in ranger programs and camp in the outdoors. You can also take guided horseback rides or book ahead for a private horsing experience within the park.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is famous for its renowned orchards that stem over 2,000 trees including apricots, cherries, apples, peaches, mulberries, pears, walnuts, and almonds.

This park provides you with the unique experience of harvesting fruit. The staff at the park thoroughly maintain the large variety of orchard trees using traditional farming practices so that you can have the ideal fruit picking session during your visit. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the park so you can help preserve the orchards in the same manner they have been for decades.

Arches National Park

This park boasts vivid, abstract, and contrasting landscapes with formations that include massive balanced rocks and colossal fins. The most recognizable features of this park are stone arches that have been photographed countless times during the edge of dawn and dusk.

Canyonlands National Park

Although we have been discussing about the many daytime activities and places to go, the Canyonlands National Park has something for you during the night: stargazing. Canyonlands has preserved the night sky by keeping the light pollution levels low and the great air quality ensures that the stars are vibrantly on display during the night.

Natural Bridges National Monument

Three majestic natural bridges invite you to ponder the power of water in a landscape usually defined by its absence. View them from an overlook, or hit the trails and experience their grandeur from below. Declared a National Monument in 1908, the bridges are named “Kachina,” “Owachomo” and “Sipapu” in honor of the ancestral Puebloans who once made this place their home.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon has many sights, but perhaps the most iconic is Horseshoe Bend. Below the rim, the Colorado River makes a wide sweep around a sandstone escarpment. On its long downward journey to the sea, the river meandered, sometimes making wide bends, but always seeking the path of least resistance. Over 5 million years the unique twists of Glen Canyon are poignantly summarized by photos of Horseshoe Bend.


The Grand Circle Road Trip can be enjoyed throughout the year. Ideally, it is better to experience these parks during Spring or Fall. The summertime heat may be overwhelming, especially when you are doing physically straining activities such as hiking. Springtime also provides you with the opportunity to harvest certain fruits, such as apricots and cherries, in Capitol Reef National Park.