Wildlife in Zion
Along with the countless activities Zion National Park has to offer, there is one feature that allows you to marvel at nature’s wonders. As you explore Zion National Park, you may not be looking for wildlife but it will find you throughout your trip. As you hike through the backcountry and watch a rabbit dart across your path or hear the cawing of birds above, the wildlife in Zion will help to make your trip memorable!
Types of wildlife
Zion National Park’s diverse landscape and many natural wonders make it the perfect place for a wide variety of wildlife to call home. From the smallest minnow to the biggest bear, Zion wouldn’t be the same without this wide array of creatures. Because these animals are so important to the success of Zion, remember to respect the habitat of every creature you encounter. For your own safety and the safety of the wildlife, remember to take care around the animals, especially aggressive carnivores. Generally, the wildlife will steer clear of you but always be sure to take precautions!
A mammal is a warm- blooded animal who gives birth to and nurses its young. At Zion National Park there are many unique mammals to be on the lookout for throughout your stay. Even if you aren’t actively looking for them, you’ll probably run into these more common species of mammals while you visit.
Spotted Bat and other bat species
Spotted Bats and other bat species are not extremely common to see but can be found park-wide. If seeing a bat is on our list of things to do, be sure to look out above at dusk as they come out to feed on flying insects. Once morning comes, bats seek refuge in the dark crevices of the canyons and await their next nighttime flight.
Desert Cottontail Rabbit
During your stay in Zion, it is very likely that you will see the Desert Cottontail Rabbit. The small but quick rabbit likes to feed on vegetation throughout Zion National Park. They like to stay at lower elevations, typically under 5,000 feet and are guaranteed to make you smile as they hop along the paths of Zion.
Coyotes are dog-like mammals that are common in many parts of the United States. You may go through our whole trip without spying one of these gray carnivores. At night, especially if you are camping out, you may hear their distinct, high-pitched bark as they communicate and hunt. If you find yourself near a coyote, avoid confrontation and keep your distance for your safety.
This small fox with big ears is native to areas surrounding Zion but it is not commonly seen throughout the park. With a body of about 17 inches and huge ears, the Kit Fox is very recognizable- and quite adorable as well! If you do happen to see a Kit Fox be sure to alert park officials and, if possible to do safely, snap a picture for identification.
Mule deer are a very common site all around the park areas. With its large ears and sandy fur, the Mule Deer is a lovely animal to catch a glimpse of. Males, or bucks, often have large racks of antlers and can get as large as 130 pounds on average. You may see them climbing low hills or just grazing on vegetation. Be sure to avoid getting too close to Mule Deer, especially during mating season, to avoid being a threat and risking an attack.
American Black Bear
Seeing an American Black Bear in Zion National Park is rare but not unheard of. Since bear sightings are so rare each one, even a possible siting, should be reported to park officials. It is important to know the procedure for bear encounters on the off chance that you may see one.
Bird watching can be serious business for those who get really into the hobby. All birdwatching requires is a good pair of binoculars and determination. It is also advantageous to know where certain birds are commonly seen in the park. You can view and print a printable bird list for Zion National Park here.
Mexican spotted owl
The Mexican Spotted Owl is a threatened and endangered bird species. The find refuge in Zion within the narrow slot canyons. You may see them preying on desert woodrats stumble upon a nest while climbing. These wide-eyed beauties are a real treat to see!
Named for the way it dips its head in the water to find food, the American Dipper is an extremely active bird. It’s the unique way the American Dipper uses to find food that makes this bird very fun to watch. You may find him by shallow streams and small pools throughout Zion.
Found throughout the world, the movements and gravity-defying stunts of hummingbirds are always a joy to watch. Zion National Park is home to many different species of hummingbirds so it is very likely that you will see at least a few during your trip.
We’ll bet you didn’t know that the Peregrine Falcon holds the title for the fastest animal in the world. This amazing bird reaches speeds of 200-300 mph while diving. These death defying stunts make watching this bird of prey captivating. To see all the Peregrine Falcon has to offer, observe them from March to early May during mating season.
With an over nine-foot wingspan, the California Condor is a delight to watch. You can often see them above Angels Landing and near Lava Point. These birds are notoriously attracted to people so restrain yourself from getting too close, even if they’ll let you. Be sure to report to a park official if a California Condor is being interacted with inappropriately by visitors.
Zion National Park has quite a few native fish throughout its waters. These native fish are lovely to observe and try to catch if you enjoy fishing.
Virgin River Spinedace
This fish is usually 4 to 6 inches long and looks like a trout. It can be found in the streams of Virgin River.
A small fish, typically 2 to 3 inches long is in the minnow family. It can be found in all waters with fish life.
This is one of the larger fish in Zion water. They can be anywhere from 12-25 inches long and are found in most rivers in Zion.
This large fish grows to 8-15 inches. It is very common and can be found wherever fish are in Zion.
Reptiles and amphibians
Great Basin Gopher Snake
This species of gopher snake ranges from gray to red with blotches on its back. They are commonly seen warming themselves on the rocks but don’t worry, they aren’t dangerous or venomous.
Canyon Tree Frog
These adorable little frogs range from gray to olive- green. You will probably see one if you spend time in the canyons. The suctions on their toes allow to climb canyon walls and stay cool among the rocks.
Is that rock moving? No, it’s just a Desert Tortoise walking along the park. These tortoises can get very large but most are less than 8” diameter. Since they move so slowly it can be tempting to touch them but please leave them be!
Wildlife’s best season
If you would like to see a wide range of wildlife in Zion National Park at their most active time, then spring is the best time to visit. During spring, you will witness mating rituals, hatching, and many animals, especially reptiles, coming out of hibernation from winter. Most birds have made their way back to the park as well so you won’t miss out on any wildlife!
Introduce yourself to new experiences and species
Exploring the wildlife in Zion is an activity for everyone. Whether your intention is to come to the park to explore different species or you just happen to run into some wildlife during your activities it will definitely leave an impression. During your visit, be sure to protect the wildlife and their habitats as you encounter them. Never feed wildlife, even if you think you are being helpful. It is important that they do not become dependent on park goers. Leave their habitats undisturbed and give the wildlife in Zion National Park the space it deserves. By respecting the wildlife and its habitat you will not only enjoy your stay but you will keep it enjoyable for future visitors.