#WorldSnakeDay and #WildlifeWednesday all in one!

Pictured is a Diamond Back Rattlesnake in Arizona near the Superstition Mountains.

Alongside the bewitching views and recreation opportunities available in our favorite parks and hiking locations are the wildlife who call these areas home.

There’s something exciting about hiking along and running into one of these fascinating desert creatures who call our area home. Be it the friendly squirrels along the Riverside Walk Trail in Zion National Park or diminutive golden-skinned frogs living their best lives among the rocks of Red Cliffs Recreation Area, these guys can brighten up your travels and make for the best photo-bombs.

Since World Snake Day falls on a Wednesday this year we’re rounding up 7 of our favorite animals to encounter along the trails.

Western Rattlesnake

You can usually identify these reptiles by the triangular head and the rattle at the end of their tail. Western rattlesnakes around the Zion National Park area are usually light brown with darker brown blotches down the middle of their back. Rattlesnakes typically eat small mammals like squirrels, mice, and small rabbits. They are found in dry, rocky areas with moderate vegetation.

These are the only venomous snake found in Zion National Park.

Where are they found? *
Zion National Park
Red Cliffs Conservation Area
Kolob Canyons | North Zion National Park

Information found on the official website of Zion National Park

Desert Horned lizard

The Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) is a species of lizard native to Western North America. Although it’s sometimes called by its nickname “horny toad”, they are definitely not toads. They’re usually 2″ to 4″ long with short horns at the back of its head, and a flattened body with a short tail. They are typically found in sandy flats and their diets consist mostly of ants.

Some members of the horned lizard family are capable of squirting blood out of their eyes as a defense mechanism!

Where are they found?*
Red Cliffs Recreation Area
Dixie National Forest
Grand Canyon National Park

Information found on the official website for Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Rock Squirrels

The rock squirrel belongs to the ground squirrel family but these guys run everywhere! Over boulders, across rocks and up trees, they’re very active. Typically 17 inches to 21 inches long, their tail makes up almost half the length of its body at 8 inches. Rock squirrels are grayish-brown, with some patches of cinnamon brown color.

They use large rocks as lookouts to scan for predators and other dangers, making Zion National Park a perfect home for them.

Where are they found?*
Zion National Park, the Riverside Walk Trail

Information found on the official website of Zion National Park

Yellow-Bellied Marmots

Marmots are large burrowing rodents sometimes known as a woodchuck, groundhog, or “whistle pig” and can be about the size of a house cat! They have small round ears, a short white muzzle and block nose and feed on leaves and blossoms. Occasionally they will eat insects as well.

They hibernate from September to May, so catch a glimpse of these guys during the summer.

Where are they found?
Cedar Breaks National Monument

Information found on the official site of the Nature Mapping Foundation

Canyon tree frog

These adorable and shimmery frogs can be spotted anywhere from Red Cliffs Recreation Area to Kolob Canyons and Zion National Park to the Grand Canyon. Often hiding in pockets of shade along bigger boulders, they can be tricky to spot. Adults are small, only 1 to 2 inches long and are predators that feed on small invertebrates, including: ants, spiders, beetles, and flies.

Canyon Tree Frogs are found on boulders near streams or stream-beds.

Where are they found?
Grand Canyon National Park
Zion National Park
Red Cliffs Conservation Area
Kolob Canyons | North Zion National Park

Information found on the official site of the Grand Canyon National Park

Northern Water Snake

These are some of the most common water snakes in the United States. With dark bands covering their bodies these snakes are often mistaken for copperheads or cottonmouths. Northern Water Snakes are not venomous, however, when agitated they may flatten their bodies and bite.

They like to spend time near standing water, such as ponds, where they can bask in the sun.

Information found on the official site of the National Wildlife Federation

BigHorn Sheep

Sure-footed Desert Bighorn Sheep are perfectly adapted to survive the hot, dry deserts they call home. In Zion National Park, you are most likely to see bighorn sheep between the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel and the East Entrance. These skilled climbers choose steep, rocky terrain, like that found on Zion’s east side, to allow them to escape from predators like mountain lions. Their hooves grip the rock and allow them to move up and down the sandstone cliffs.

Where are they found?
Zion National Park

Information found on the official website of Zion National Park

The locations given in the Where are they?* section reflect a small area of where these creatures can be found, focusing on recreation and wildlife areas.