FAUNA (Animals)
Of Red Rock Canyon State Park

Many might be surprised to know that deserts, including Red Rock Canyon, have a large abundance of animals, from small critters to large mammals and of course many birds. These animals are highly adapted to large portions of time without water, and high temperatures. They are generally nocturnal (active at night) and burrow during the day when it is hot. Their stomach and other internal organs are highly adapted to keep water from escaping as well as efficiently receive water from their food sources.

Many animals are easily seen during certain seasons as well. In many instances in the spring, you can catch the bright orange larva of the Sphinx Moth eating wildflower; but don’t pick them up they can be pretty aggressive.  Another animal that is out and about during spring season is the famous California desert reptile, the Desert Tortoise. The Tortoise commonly mistaken for its distant cousin the African Tortoise, are not huge reptiles you can ride. In fact, the Desert Tortoise may only reach 9 to 15 in upper shell length. The Desert Tortoise is often a rare sight to behold because they usually are only out of the burrow during short periods in the day; that is, when they are not hibernating during the cold fall and winter seasons!

There are many animals that you expect to see in the desert as well. Hare’s and Rabbits, snakes, and many different lizards; such as the Chuckwalla, the Great Horned Lizard, and the unique California and Great Basin Whiptail, which will rarely be seen on rocks, preferring instead to stay on the ground close to burrows or bushes to hide quickly.


Red Rock also has its share of uncommon animal occurrences, such as Mountain Lions and Black Bears! These animals are very rare and usually only venture out of their usual mountain habitats in extreme conditions, such as a lack of a viable water or food source.