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BLM > Arizona > On-Line Recreation Permits > Paria Canyon Wilderness Area/Vermilion Cliffs National Monument > Paria Canyon Permit Area > Wildlife
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Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Paria Canyon Permit Area - Wildlife

The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife species. While some may insist that the term "desert" conjures images of lifeless sand, reality has proven deserts to be alive with animals, and plants that are uniquely adapted to this environment. So too, this wilderness comes alive to the observant hiker who watches for the evidence of wildlife.

peregrine falcon Look up, and search the skies for the birds of Paria. In winter bald eagles may be seen, while golden eagles are less choosy and have been spotted year round. Other birds of prey include the endangered peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawk (with its harsh kee-ah-rr screech), great horned owl, and Cooper's hawk.

Aerobatics may be performed by white-throated swifts and violet-green swallows. Birds such as rock wrens, canyon wrens, killdeer, cliff swallows, flycatchers, and black-throated sparrows nest on sheer walls or sand benches and seek the quiet inner-canyon.

Tiny birds such as ruby-crowned kinglets, blue-grey gnat catchers and black-chinned hummingbirds are more easily noticed during the quiet moments of the morning when relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the canyon. Taking the time to look and listen may reveal even other birds.

Along the river, great blue herons may be seen, their large tracks pressed into the sand. In the river, especially near Lees Ferry, ducks can be seen. 

mountain lion Occasionally, bobcats, foxes, mountain lions, porcupines and beavers are seen by lucky hikers. More commonly found are coyotes, jack rabbits, cottontails, ground squirrels, bats, kangaroo rats, and other rodents. At popular campsites, foraging rodents make it advisable to hang food while camping and "Leave No Trace" when departing.

Desert bighorn sheep, successfully reintroduced to Paria Canyon in the 1980s are usually found in the cliffs and crags of the lower canyon. Mule deer move quietly throughout the canyon, but their numbers are relatively low.

What to Expect




Natural Wonders



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chuckwalla Some of the most noticeable species in Paria Canyon during warmer months are reptiles and amphibians. They are the easily observed and commonly encountered. A variety of lizards, from the large chuckwalla to the small side-blotched, may be seen basking in the sun. With patience, leopard, desert spiny, or collared lizards may be seen.

The red-spotted toad is common throughout the canyon. Their tadpoles are frequently seen in the water. Frogs are not common, but sometimes can be heard. Four species of fish are known to occur in the Paria River, the flannel mouth sucker, bluehead sucker, razorback sucker and speckled dace. Fish sometimes enter the lower portion of the Paria River from the Colorado River.

Some residents of the canyon may be heard before they are seen. Rattlesnakes are sometimes found within the canyon, although they are more common along the canyon rims. A rattlesnake bite can be fatal; therefore, treat these snakes with caution and respect. Scorpions also make their homes in the canyon, usually in dead wood, under rocks or inside hiking boots. They are generally nocturnal and a sting is extremely painful, though seldom fatal. Remember to shake boots and clothes out each morning before hiking. What kinds of wildlife will you find on your hike?

 Vermilion Cliffs National Monument 
Monument Manager:  Wayne Monger, Acting
345 E. Riverside Drive
St. George, UT 84790-6714
(435) 688-3200 
Hours: 7:45 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday 
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Saturday 
Closed Sunday