17 Bryce Canyon Animals Seen On Our Hikes!

black bears bryce canyon national park animals

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorite places. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and brings a big smile to my face.

Over the last 15 years, we’ve been lucky to have countless wildlife encounters in Bryce. Each time leaves us pleasantly surprised with the rich biodiversity of the place.

The Bryce Canyon National Park boasts 59 species of mammals,175 species of birds & 11 species of reptiles.

We caught glimpses of most while hiking diverse landscapes and geological features, including a cute bear cub playing around a tree stump one sunny afternoon!

Here’s a of 17 amazing sightings we had during our hikes.

The Utah Prairie Dog

We saw the UTAH Prairie Dog in Bryce Canyon National Park. They’re cute and small, but they’re not very cuddly.

The Utah Prairie Dog

We saw this one sitting on top of a rock formation, and it seemed to be checking us out as much as we were checking him out. It’s hard to tell with animals, but he seemed like he was trying to figure us out too.

The prairie dog is a member of the squirrel family, but this one has some distinctive features that set it apart from other members of its family. For example, it has large ears and a long tail that help it keep cool in its hot environment.

Prairie dogs are also known for their elaborate burrows that can be over two feet tall! The burrows provide protection from predators and also serve as homes for their families.

Black Bears

We had the rare sight of black bears in Bryce Canyon National Park

Black Bears 1

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorite places to visit in Utah. The natural beauty of this park is breathtaking, especially during sunrise and sunset when there is a beautiful glow on the canyon walls.

On our most recent trip there, we had a very unique experience with black bears!

The first time we saw a black bear was while driving down Highway 63 towards the park entrance.

The second time we saw black bears was at Sunset Point, which is one of my favorite places to watch the sun set in Bryce Canyon.

While we were sitting there enjoying the view, a female with 2 cubs came walking up from behind us! They started sniffing around for food and the cubs found a tree stum that kept them busy for an hour!

Mountain Lion

We hiked up to Inspiration Point and got this incredible view of Bryce Canyon from above. I was standing there taking photos when I turned around and saw a mountain lion walking through the trees behind me!

Mountain Lion 2

The mountain lion walked through the trees until it disappeared behind some rocks. We were all very excited but also very scared because we could not see where it had gone!

We kept looking around until we finally spotted it again, but this time it was right next to us on another trail!

We were all so excited that we had seen a mountain lion that close up! It is such an amazing experience when you get to see wildlife in its natural environment like this!

Mule Deer

We saw Mule Deer everywhere in Bryce Canyon National Park, especially during sunset when they would come out of the shadows to graze on the lush grasses.

Mule Deer 3

After a long day of hiking and exploring the park, it was great to come back to our cabin at Sunset Campground and see these beautiful animals just outside our front door.

The best time to see mule deer is during late afternoon and early evening hours. They tend to move around more at this time and can be seen grazing or walking into the forest for cover. It’s amazing how quickly they can disappear into the woods if startled by human activity.

It’s also fun to watch them play! Mule deer are very social animals and love playing together. They’ll often play fight with each other by kicking each other with their hind legs or jumping up and down on top of each other – much like kids at recess!


Bryce Canyon is known for its many hoodoos (rock formations that resemble humans, animals or other shapes) and for the beautiful colors in the rocks.

Rattlesnakes 1

The hoodoos are created when erosion causes different layers of rock to break away from each other. Rattlesnakes call these formations home and can be seen easily – if you look!

Steller’s Jay

While we were in Bryce Canyon National Park, we saw Steller’s Jay. These birds are also known as Canada Jays, or Blue Jays. They live in the coniferous forests of North America and are common to most of the United States.

Stellers Jay

Steller’s Jays are very vocal and they often make their presence known with a loud call that sounds like “Jay! Jay!” They usually eat seeds, insects and berries. They also like peanut butter sandwiches!


We were driving through Bryce Canyon National Park and stopped to take some photos of the hoodoos. We were about to start hiking when we spotted a group of pronghorns.


A few were eating, but most were just standing around looking at us. I was excited because I had never seen one before, so I walked closer to get a better look.

The pronghorns started running away from me when I got about 20 feet away from them, so I took some photos before we continued on our hike.

Peregrine Falcon 

Bryce Canyon National Park is considered to be a prime location for viewing Peregrine Falcons. This raptor is one of the fastest animals in the world, so it is not surprising that it has adapted well to the cliffs and canyons of Bryce Canyon.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcons are large birds with long wings and tails. They have pointed wings and feet. The male and female Peregrine Falcons look similar in appearance, but they can be distinguished by their colors. The males are predominantly gray or blue-gray, while females are brown or reddish-brown.

Rocky Mountain Elk

Rocky Mountain Elk 1

Rocky Mountain elk are known to frequent the area and are sometimes spotted in or near the parks at the higher elevations. We saw them in the fir and spruce forest at the southern end of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Clark’s Nutcracker

The Clark’s Nutcracker is a common bird in Bryce Canyon National Park. It usually stays high in the trees, but we saw one that landed on a rock near the entrance to the park.

Clarks Nutcrackers Great Basin National Park

Golden Eagles

Renowned for their grace in the sky, these raptors are a sight to behold against Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos. With their vast wingspan and distinctive golden nape, they can often be spotted from trails like the Rim Trail or Fairyland Loop.

Golden Eagle

Open areas such as Inspiration Point and Bryce Point offer expansive views of the sky and are ideal spots for eagle-watching.

Hikers venturing into the less-trafficked areas, like the Water Canyon region, might also be rewarded with a sighting.

While exploring, always keep an eye on the horizon for the magnificent silhouette of the Golden Eagle soaring overhead.

Red-tailed Hawks

Emblematic of the North American skies, the Red-tailed Hawk is no stranger to Bryce Canyon. Its signature reddish-brown tail sets it apart as it soars over iconic landmarks.

Red tailed Hawk National Forest trails

For the best sightings, consider hiking trails like Navajo Loop or the Peek-A-Boo Loop.

Elevated areas such as Sunset Point and Paria View are also prime spots to watch these raptors gracefully ride the thermals, eyes locked onto potential prey below.

Their distinctive cry often heralds their presence even before they’re spotted. So, when exploring Bryce’s vast amphitheaters, remember to glance upwards—you might just see a Red-tailed Hawk circling above.

Townsend’s Big-Eared Bats

Within Bryce Canyon’s labyrinth of hoodoos and vast open spaces is a rich and diverse bat population. Among them, the Townsend’s big-eared bats stand out distinctly.

Characterized by their impressively long and flexible ears, they are a marvel of evolution, adapted to the unique echolocation needs of their habitat.

townsends big eared bat

As twilight envelops the canyon, these bats emerge in search of insects, their flight a graceful dance in the dimming light.

Hikers near the Mossy Cave Trail or the Under-the-Rim Trail might be fortunate enough to witness their swift, darting movements.

The Queens Garden area, with its natural crevices and alcoves, can also be a haven for these bats. While they may be elusive, their importance in maintaining the ecosystem, primarily as pest controllers, is undeniable.

Ringtail Cats

The Bryce Canyon terrain, dotted with its iconic red-rock formations, is also home to the elusive Ringtail Cat. Often referred to as the miner’s cat, their nocturnal habits mean they are creatures of the shadows.

Ringtail chisos mountains wildlife

With faces reminiscent of a fox and a long, distinctively striped tail, they navigate the rugged terrains with agility.

The Rim Trail, particularly the sections closer to the dense pinewoods, might offer a rare glimpse of this secretive creature.

Their presence, while hard to detect, is often hinted at by tracks or their distinctive calls. Despite their elusive nature, knowing that the canyon holds such mysterious inhabitants adds to Bryce’s allure.

Great Horned Owls

The hauntingly beautiful call of the Great Horned Owl is a testament to the wild spirit of Bryce Canyon. Dominating the avian night, these owls, with their tufted ears and fierce gaze, are apex predators of the nocturnal world.

As darkness settles, places like Bryce Amphitheater or even the lesser-traveled Swamp Canyon could echo with their deep hoots.

Great Horned Owls Nebraska wildlife camping

These birds are not just hunters but also symbols of the wild, untamed nature that Bryce Canyon preserves. The Silent City, with its numerous hoodoos and quiet corners, provides a serene backdrop for these birds to hunt.

Their majestic flight, coupled with the ethereal beauty of the park under moonlight, creates a mesmerizing spectacle for those lucky enough to witness it.

Pinyon Jays

The vibrant blue hues of the Pinyon Jays contrast sharply against Bryce Canyon’s reddish landscapes.

Pinyon Jays

Intrinsically tied to the pinyon pines that dot the park, these birds are not just a sight but also a sound to be reckoned with. Their raucous calls, echoing through the canyons, are a distinctive part of the Bryce soundscape.

The Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop or the Bristlecone Loop, where pinyon pines are abundant, is where you’re likely to encounter these lively birds.

As you hike along, listen for their characteristic chatter or watch for their gregarious flocks, often in search of their favorite treat: pinyon pine seeds. Their energetic presence is a reminder of the smaller wonders that Bryce Canyon holds.

Bighorn Sheep

The rugged majesty of Bryce Canyon is not just reflected in its geological formations but also in its resilient inhabitants like the bighorn sheep.

While these magnificent creatures are more synonymous with Zion, the higher terrains of Bryce, especially regions like the Rainbow Point or Yovimpa Point, offer a sanctuary during the cooler months.

Desert bighorn sheep Canyonlands NP

Their powerful build, curved horns, and nimble feet make them uniquely equipped to traverse the rocky outcrops and steep cliffs.

Spotting one, with its sturdy silhouette against the vast expanse of Bryce’s landscape, is a moment of sheer wilderness magic.

So, when venturing into the park’s elevated areas, keep a keen eye out; the elegant bighorn sheep might just grace your adventure with their presence.

Wildlife Viewing Tips in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a wonderland of unique geological formations and a diverse array of wildlife. To make the most of your wildlife viewing experience in this iconic park, here are 15 specific tips:

  1. Best Time to Visit: The early morning and late afternoon are the prime times for wildlife viewing. Animals are most active during these cooler parts of the day.
  2. Stay on Designated Trails: Always stick to the designated trails to minimize disturbance to wildlife. The Navajo Loop Trail (1.3 miles) and the Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail (5.5 miles) are excellent options for spotting wildlife.
  3. Visit the Wilderness Areas: Bryce Canyon has eight designated wilderness areas. The Riggs Spring Loop Trail (8.8 miles) traverses through some of these untouched habitats, increasing your chances of encountering wildlife.
  4. Quiet Observation: Move slowly and quietly. Refrain from making loud noises, as this can scare away animals and disrupt their natural behavior.
  5. Use Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars can help you spot distant animals without getting too close and disturbing them.
  6. Look for Birds at Swamp Canyon: This area is a haven for various bird species. The Swamp Canyon Trail (4.3 miles) offers excellent opportunities for birdwatching.
  7. Visit Farview Point: This viewpoint is not just for the stunning vistas. It’s also a great place to spot raptors soaring above.
  8. Safety First: Remember that wildlife in the park is wild. Maintain a safe distance, especially from larger animals like deer and pronghorn.
  9. Avoid Feeding Wildlife: Not only is it illegal, but it’s also harmful to the animals. Human food isn’t suitable for wild animals and can cause health problems.
  10. Educate Yourself: Stop by the visitor center to learn about the different species that inhabit the park. Knowledgeable rangers can provide insights and updates on recent wildlife sightings.
  11. Check Water Sources: Animals often visit water sources, especially during the dryer months. Lookout for streams or ponds along trails like the Mossy Cave Trail (0.9 miles).
  12. Be Patient: Wildlife viewing requires patience. If you find a good spot, consider sitting quietly and waiting. You’ll be surprised at what might emerge from the shadows.
  13. Respect Nesting Areas: During certain times of the year, birds and other animals might be nesting. Keep a distance and avoid disturbing these sensitive areas.
  14. Join a Guided Tour: The park occasionally offers guided wildlife viewing tours. These are led by experts who know the best spots and can share fascinating information about the animals you encounter.
  15. Document Your Sightings: Consider keeping a wildlife journal or take photos (from a safe distance). Sharing your sightings with park rangers can also help them in monitoring and conserving the park’s wildlife.

By following these tips, you’ll not only enhance your wildlife viewing experience in Bryce Canyon National Park but also ensure that the animals remain safe and undisturbed in their natural habitat. Happy viewing!


If you are planning a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, or just interested in wildlife in general, this list provides a glimpse into some of the local wildlife to look out for while hiking.

It is not a comprehensive list, so be sure to take advantage of rangers and guides that can help point out the wildlife specific to your area and where you plan on going!

1 thought on “17 Bryce Canyon Animals Seen On Our Hikes!”

  1. Love all the wild animals so very beautiful and the photos of the canyon n nation parks simply breath taking n all free to enjoy

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