One of the fauna highlights of Bryce Canyon National Park is the possibility of seeing North America’s fastest land animal: the pronghorn antelope. As I headed out to Rainbow Point I stopped to scan every roadside meadow to see if I could find a herd but with no luck.
On my way out of the park I stopped at the visitors center to ask a ranger about possible locations to see pronghorns. The ranger told me that he hadn’t seen any pronghorns in the park for three weeks and in the fall the antelopes head out of the park and sometimes can be seen from the highways near Bryce, grazing with cattle.
So I stopped at the first field I came to, once I left the park. There were cattle grazing in the field and I walked over to the barbed wire fence to take a closer look. That’s when I spotted a pronghorn, although not one I really wanted to see.
The pronghorn that once was. Even in death, the pronghorn looks gracefully fast.
I headed west on Highway 12 and stopped near the airport and again scanned the planes (no pun intended) for the Northern Hemisphere’s fastest land animal. No luck. I stopped at a few more locations in Red Canyon and the Dixie National Forest. As I neared the intersection with highway 89, I spotted a lone pronghorn in the field to the south.
I pulled over and crossed the highway to take a closer look. That’s when I noticed that the pronghorn was not alone. Stretched off to the west were about 20 antelope, all of them looking towards the strange man looking at then. A new life mammal!
After watching the herd for 10 minutes I got into the car and headed south on 89, towards the east entrance to Zion National Park. Little did I know that I would soon seen another life mammal. This one would be much closer to the road than the skittish pronghorn antelope.
Just after entering Zion National Park, Checkerboard Mesa looming off in the near distance, I headed toward the mesa vista point. A line of tan animals appeared on the left side of the road, threading their way down to the mesa. They looked like large, pale capybaras, but with horns. What on earth were these creatures?
A herd of bighorns attack a helpless bush on the road side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
I pulled over and was surprised to see a herd of desert bighorn sheep descending on a bush at the base of Checkerboard Mesa.
The were about 15 sheep in the herd and a few worked their way up the road bank to almost within touching distance. There was another herd on the other side of Checkerboard Mesa and this group included a ram.