|Vermilion Cliffs Condor Viewing Site|
The California condor soars the skies of Arizona once again, thanks to a reintroduction effort that began here at Vermilion Cliffs in 1996. A condor viewing kiosk at the west end of the monument invites visitors to look for these enormous black birds. From the kiosk, visitors are almost guarantee...
Grand Canyon National Park
|Description: The significance and appeal of the Grand Canyon is not limited to spectacular vistas and fascinating geology. The park contains several major ecosystems and great biological diversity. It spans nearly 8,000 feet in elevation, from the Mohave Desert scrub regions along the Colorado River in the park’s western end to the Kaibab Plateau’s subalpine conifer forests of the North Rim. Its large size, relatively unfragmented and diverse habitat, and range of elevations and associated climates have made Grand Canyon National Park a valuable wildlife area. Over 1,500 species of plants, 355 birds, 89 mammals, 47 reptile, 9 amphibians, and 17 fish are found in the park.|
Wildlife to Watch: Three broad wildlife habitats exist within the park: the Colorado River corridor and inner canyon riparian areas, inner canyon desert uplands, and the coniferous forests. Wildlife varies greatly in each habitat, and each offers unique viewing opportunities.
Riparian: The diversity of vegetation along the riparian zone creates a corresponding variety of wildlife habitats. A total of 34 mammal species are found along the Colorado River corridor, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyote, ringtail, bats, spotted skunk, raccoon, bobcat and gray fox. Mountain lion are also present but are rarely seen. Of the 355 bird species recorded in the greater Grand Canyon region, 250 are found in the Colorado River corridor. Canyon treefrog, red-spotted and Woodhouse’s toads are commonly encountered on the river’s shores, and eastern collared lizard, common side-blotched lizard and tiger whiptail may be seen basking on rocks.
Desert Scrub: In spring, summer and early fall, the south rim near Grand Canyon Village is one of the best sites in the world so view California condors. The cliffs along the inner canyon provide nesting sites for approximately 100 pairs of peregrine falcons. Fifty species of mammals, consisting mostly of rodents and bats, occur in this habitat.
Numerous caves in the inner canyon provide roost sites for migratory and resident bats, including the unique spotted bat. Spring, summer and fall offer excellent opportunities to view bighorn sheep. Three species of rattlesnake are found within the canyon, and numerous lizards and other snakes inhabit the precipitous slopes. Brilliantly colored eastern collared lizards are undoubtedly the most gaudy of the lizards found in the canyon, while Gila monsters have been documented from the canyon’s lower reaches. Common side-blotched lizards and tiger whiptails are the most commonly seen lizards in this habitat; common chuckwallas and desert spiny lizards haunt the boulder-strewn slopes and canyons. Though snakes are seldom seen in all habitats, the Grand Canyon rattlesnake is probably the most famous of the parks’ serpentine inhabitants.
Coniferous Forest: The conifer forests provide habitat for 52 mammal species, including porcupine, red squirrel, rock squirrel and mule deer. A unique population of Abert’s squirrel, the Kaibab squirrel, can be found on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. They differ from other Abert’s squirrels in having dark undersides and a nearly all-white tail. Other mammals that may occur but are rarely observed include black bear, mountain lion and elk. Bird species that can be observed include northern goshawk, blue grouse, yellow-rumped and black-throated gray warblers, white-throated swift and canyon wren, along with the ever-present common raven. Reptiles include western skink (found only on the north rim), plateau lizard, greater short-horned lizard, eastern collared lizard, gopher snake and black-tailed rattlesnake.
Special Tips: Visitors should pay particular attention to posted park safety advisories. For viewing and photographing the canyon, the best light is early or late in the day. If you plan to see the canyon at sunrise or sunset it is recommended that you be on the rim at least an hour before.
Other Activities: The park has a significant trail system for all levels of recreationists. The Rim Trail follows the rim from Mather Point to Hermits Rest. The section of the Rim Trail between Pipe Creek Vista and Maricopa Point is paved. Unpaved portions of the trail, between Maricopa Point and Hermits Rest, are narrow and close to the edge. Bicycles are not permitted on the Rim Trail.
Ownership: National Park Service
Size: 1,218,375 acres
Closest Town: Tusayan
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: