Right now, it isn’t business as usual in our national parks. Many are closed and some are only partially open. Grand Canyon National Park has been closed for the past few weeks. It’s a bummer for the 6 million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year.
But as George Harrison said, “All things must pass.” At some point soon, Grand Canyon National Park will reopen its doors (though it would be hard to put a door on a canyon). As will nearby Grand Canyon accommodations like Yavapai Lodge.
Until that happy day, here’s a look at four elusive species who really aren’t missing mankind.
Several species of endangered birds call the Grand Canyon home, including the famed bald eagle. Our national symbol and a ringing endorsement of the Endangered Species Act, this is a bird of immense size. You’re most likely to see one in early morning hours or at dusk. Bald eagles can often be seen near the Colorado River as they hunt for trout.
Unique to the Grand Canyon is a fabulous reptile by the name of the pink rattlesnake. You might come upon one in habitats such as grasslands, deserts, rolling hills, woodlands or pine forests. Pink rattlesnakes are venomous but Grand Canyon National Park has never had a death due to a rattlesnake bite. Watch your step while hiking and you’ll be fine.
Native Colorado River fish have suffered as a result of changes in water volume since the completion of Glen Canyon Dam. This includes fish like the humpback chub, the only chub species still found in the Grand Canyon. Silver in color, humpback chub can live more than 30 years. The species wasn’t even scientifically described until 1946 – decades after the mountain gorilla was discovered in 1902.
A small population of mountain lions calls the park home but visitors rarely see them since they don’t actively approach people. These big cats like to prowl the banks of the cool Colorado River. More than a dozen adult mountain lions have been captured and radio tagged inside the park. Tracking them helps biologists understand mountain lion movements, population dynamics and habits.
More and more, protected lands like Grand Canyon National Park provide a refuge for plants and animals that are under increasing pressure elsewhere. The park will be back – plan a getaway soon to see if you can spot any of these rare Grand Canyon creatures for yourself.