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Copyright 2002-2015
Leslie M. Barstow III

Zion National Park

Why Visit?   Park Info   Tour Guide   When To Visit   Photo Tips   Nature   Photo Gallery

[Runoff I] Since the shuttle system was enstated in 2000, much of the wildlife in Zion Canyon has come out of hiding. And the lush banks of the Virgin River as it flows through the canyon attract a lot of wildlife. Mule Deer are abundant, and sometimes graze quite close to the shuttle stops. Wild Turkey wander near the lodge and roost in the Cottonwoods along the river. Porcupines also use the Cottonwoods for resting and for food.

Bird life is also abundant. The haunting song of the Canyon Wren can be heard echoing off of canyon walls. Bushtits flit through the undergrowth, and warblers are abundant throughout the canyon. Sometimes Roadrunners can be seen on the way to the western sections of the park. I saw a rare treat when I was there - a Painted Redstart, obviously there to refresh itself.

Smaller life abounds as well. Bold Rock Squirrels are everywhere, looking for a handout and raiding the lodge picnic area for leftovers. Several varieties of lizard sun themselves on the canyon rocks. Snakes and spiders - including Tarantulas - also inhabit the park; sightings of these animals are rare, however.

Along the river, stately Cottonwood plants grow in the flood plain grasslands, interspersed with three-foot tall prickly pear cacti. The Riverside walk also takes you through a desert swamp lush with reeds. The seeps of the canyon walls harbor Maidenhair Fern, Shooting Star, Yellow Columbine and a host of other moisture-loving plants.

In the Kolob Canyons, Kolob Terraces, and East Zion sections of the park, the normal desert pine and juniper dominate, with smaller cacti and paintbrush adding floral color. Mountain lions and eagles are also more commonly seen outside of the main canyon area.