Zion National Park Feature


Plants and Wildlife in Zion

Zion Canyon's unique geography—the park is on the Colorado Plateau and bordered by the Great Basin and Mojave Desert provinces—supports more than 900 species of plants in environments that range from desert to hanging garden to high plateau. (Those so inclined can pick up a plant identification guide at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.) And yes, poison ivy is among the plant species. If you're not sure how to recognize it, take a quick lesson from a ranger prior to your first hike or you’ll wind up with an itchy souvenir.

With car traffic having been almost completely replaced by a shuttle bus system between April and October, wildlife has returned in force to the park. Even in high season you can spot mule deer wandering in shady glens as you ride through the park, especially in early morning and near dusk. You'll also see scores of lizards and wild turkeys everywhere you go.

If you’re looking for more exotic fauna, hit the hiking trails. Nearly 300 species of birds occupy (either part-time or full-time) the park, from tiny hummingbirds and chickadees to surprisingly large wild turkeys, eagles, and even pelicans. Ringtail cats (which are not cats but are similar to raccoons) prowl the park. Evening hikes may reveal foxes, but you're more likely to spot their tracks than the elusive animals themselves. All animals, from the smallest chipmunk to the biggest elk, should be given plenty of space, but only the extremely rare mountain lion or black bear pose any kind of threat to humans.

Updated: 2014-03-12

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