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Watching Wildlife at the Grand Canyon

Although the Grand Canyon is most visited for the spectacular site of the canyon crater, there are still plenty of amazing animals that call this terrain home. The Grand Canyon and surrounding regions are home to desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, coyotes, gray foxes, and a large variety of reptiles, birds, and rodents.

Since the canyon is so vast, with steep drop-offs and hard-to-access land below, it’s recommended to bring a pair of binoculars with you. These will aid in your ability to see animals across the canyon, as well as far below the lookout points.

The Grand Canyon’s Top Animals

  • California Condor
    • The California condor, a black and white spotted bird with a bald head, is the largest bird in North America with a wingspan of 9.5-feet. Populations have declined during the 20th century due to hunting, egg collection, and lead poisoning. Landing themselves on the endangered species list in 1967, the species is now recovered with three different condors calling the Grand Canyon home.
  • Ringtail
    • Known for being the state mammal of Arizona as well as the most common animal in the Grand Canyon, the ringtail is rarely seen by humans since it’s highly active at night. They have great hearing and eyesight for nighttime hunting, working as solitary creatures, except during mating season.
  • Abert’s Squirrel
    • Acting as a genetic barrier between Abert’s squirrels on the South Rim and Kaibab squirrels on the North Rim, the Grand Canyon is home to a healthy population of a squirrel known for its spiky ear fur. Spending most of their lives in or around ponderosa pine, you’ll surely see these critters on your trip.
  • Elk
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Bats
  • Bison

Viewing Locations

House Rock Valley Road: California condors
North Rim: bison, bighorn sheep, California condors
South Rim: Elk

When Should You Go?

The Grand Canyon is open year round, although the months of June, July, and August can be too hot for visitors. Temperatures can spike over 110 degrees, making it a dangerous climate for those hiking without proper gear. If you visit the canyon in the summer, be sure to hike and view wildlife during early morning and late evening hours.

For the rest of the year from late September through May, the park is at its busiest. Do note: the last ticket of the day is sold at 4:30PM. If you plan to view wildlife after that time, be sure to buy your ticket first so you don’t get locked out of the park. Make sure to pack plenty of water and have some kind of covering for sun exposure!