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Top Grand Canyon Animal Encounters


In anticipation of celebrating my mom’s 65th birthday my family floated and camped through the Grand Canyon for seven days. Because of the killer rapids and strict regulation we went with a guided group. OARS had every thing from filet minon to guides with comprehensive historical and geological information about the canyon. Because the canyon is so deep and inaccessible I was completely free from all the blessings and burdens of modern technology. Instead I soaked in the beauty around me and snapped photos like crazy. Here are the my top ten animal photographs.

Mule Deer

10. Mule Deer

Yeah, I know the pic ain’t so hot, but I only had a 3x zoom. You try coming up with 10 animal pics.


9. Turkey Vulture

These birds are everywhere. The sea gulls at the bottom of the canyon where more surprising.

Mountain Lion Poop

8. Mountain Lion Poop

On hike into a side canyon we walked into a mountain lion kitty litter box. There were big craps every few feet along a dry stream bed with 60 to 100 foot walls on either side. When I finished taking this picture I looked up to realize my entire group had walked out of sight around the bend. Suddenly I remembered mountain lions often drop on their prey from above and felt very small and alone. Though I double timed it to catch my fellow hikers, I secretly hoped to catch a photo of lion perched above me. All I got was this pile of shit.

Desert Spiny Lizard

7. Desert Spiny Lizard

I saw a whole bunch of these lizards including one that ate a beetle. Later I saw male courting a female by bobbing his head like Quagmire from Family Guy and puffing out his colors. That lady lizard was freaked and not stopping for herpaporn, thus no pics.


6. Nautilus

That is a 300 million year old animal called a nautilus. See the spiral shell grow along the golden mean. Its relatives still float in the sea today. You see fossils everywhere in the GC, and it highlights your temporary status and the need to build a strong mausoleum for the afterlife.

Abert Ground Squirrel

5. Abert Ground Squirrel

There are two species of squirrels that live in the grand canyon. Though the species diverged after millions of years split by the mighty Colorado both are equally vicious. According to our skilled guide squirrel bites are the most common injury in the GC. It was no surprise as the squirrels in the more developed part of the park were very aggressive and steal food. Even a small bite requires a full rabies treatment. And you thought they were cute, wrong!!


4. Raven

Man do these birds get a nasty wrap in poetry. Well it is time for me to say`Nevermore.’ That’s so Raven should be a compliment. They generally mate for life. They have 200 vocal sounds. And they are certainly one of the smartest birds on the planet. In the GC ravens stalk you everywhere so you have to keep your bags protected otherwise they are likely to unzip them and fly away with your beef jerky.

Canyon Treefrog

3. Canyon Tree Frog

We walked up a side canyon with a spring listening to a chorus of these frogs schtupping. For being a little guy, they sure make a lot of noise. Also they pose for pictures which raises their rating.

Grand Canyon Rattlesnake

2. Grand Canyon Rattlesnake

The GC is so big it has its own type of small rattlesnake. Ever since I watched tons of westerns as a kid I wanted to see a rattlesnake. My brother and his girl friend decided move their sleeping spot after seeing one crawl into a hole 15 feet away. But I had yet to see one after 7 days on the river. It was only on the 9.2 mile hike from the bottom of the canyon to the top that one finally crossed my path. Both snake and I remained calm and I was able to get this full body shot without risking life or limb.

Side-Bloched Lizard

1. Side-Blotched Lizard

These were by far the most common animal that I saw. They scurried ever which way. They brought every inch of sand to life with movement and tracks. It amazed me how much life can thrive where there is so little water. But it should be no wonder that life can thrive where ever it is left in peace to grow.

You can check out many more of my photosof the canyon here, though mostly you will be wading through pics of my family enjoying the scenery.

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