Capitol Reef isn’t just a fantastic collection of inspiring geological formations. And it isn’t just a great place to hike and play in Southern Utah. For hundreds of species of animals, Capitol Reef is home. And when you visit, you get a chance to see and hear these animals in their natural habitat. Let’s talk about a few of the animals that live in the park.
The mule deer are the animals most associated with Capitol Reef. They roam freely on the manicured lawns, under the trees of the orchards, and even between the tents in the campsite. For the most part, the mule deer in Capitol Reef are completely habituated to humans. So they aren’t going to run away from you. But that doesn’t mean you should approach or fed them. Doing so can make them sick. Just watch them gracefully wander around Fruita, and shoot some pictures.
The next most prominent animal in the park is the bighorn sheep. You’ll often see these guys high on the desert sandstone cliffs, as they move from higher to lower elevations in the fall. But even if you don’t see any bighorn sheep, you can sometimes hear them bleating as you hike in the backcountry of Capitol Ref.
Quite a Few Mammals That Don’t Want to Be Seen
There are several other species of mammals that live in the park, but a lot of them don’t want anything to do with humans. We’re talking about mountain lions, ringtails, antelope, beavers, and more. You can check out the official list of park mammals here.
Lots and Lots of Birds…
Capitol Reef is also home to about 200 species of birds. You’ll often find ravens circling the updrafts over the park. You’ll almost certainly hear the songs of the jays, orioles, and bluebirds that nest in the cottonwood trees. And you’ll probably spot a wren or a towhee gathering food scraps in the parking lots or in the campgrounds. And if you’re really lucky, you might see something rare while you’re in the park…
Such as Endangered Raptors
Capitol Reef is prime territory for eagles, hawks, and falcons. The high cliff walls make for excellent nesting sites, and the abundance of prey animals helps sustain the raptor populations. Listen for the screech of the harris hawk next time you’re there. And when you’re hiking in the canyons, look up and see if you can spot a peregrine falcon. The golden eagles are probably the easiest to spot, since they have an affinity for perching on power lines.
There’s Way More
In addition to the few mammals and birds that we mentioned, Capitol Reef supports hundreds of other animals. There are reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish, lots more birds, and plenty of other mammals. And you get to hang out with all of them whenever you visit the park. Check out this page for more information on the animal life in Capitol Reef.