Petrified Forest National Park Feature
Flora and Fauna
Engelmann asters and sunflowers are among the blooms in the park each summer. Juniper trees, cottonwoods, and willows grow along Puerco River Wash, providing shelter for all manner of wildlife. You might spot mule deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, and foxes, although other inhabitants, like porcupines and bobcats, tend to hide. Bird-watchers should keep an eye out for mockingbirds, red-tailed and Swainson's hawks, roadrunners, swallows, and hummingbirds. Look for all three kinds of lizards—collared, side-blotched, and southern prairie—in rocks.
Beware of rattlesnakes. They are common but can generally be avoided if you use sense: Watch where you step, and don't step anywhere you can't see. If you do come across a rattler, give it plenty of space, and let it go its way before you continue yours. Other reptiles—and there are plenty—are just as common but not as worrisome. The gopher snake looks similar to a rattlesnake, but is nonpoisonous. The collared lizard, with its yellow head, can be seen scurrying out of your way just about everywhere in bursts measured at up to 15 mph. They are not poisonous, but will bite in the rare instance of being caught.
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