A Guide to Capitol Reef Wildlife: What to Expect

Located in the heart of Utah’s red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem teeming with natural beauty and a wide array of vibrant wildlife. Tourists from around the country visit to experience the cliffs, canyons, and striking rock formations.

The diverse landscape serves as a home for a variety of unique animal species, making it an ideal destination for wildlife sightings. If you’re planning a trip to Capitol Reef National Park, it’s essential to know what to expect when you visit. In this guide to Capitol Reef wildlife, we cover the many different animals you may see.


Capitol Reef National Park is home to 58 documented species of mammals big and small. Some commonly spotted large mammals include desert bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer. As with the majority of mammals in the area, these animals are the most active at dawn and dusk. 

While predatory mammals like bears, mountain lions, and foxes are present in the Capitol Reef area, they are secretive animals that mostly keep to themselves and are not frequently spotted by tourists. In addition to larger mammals, there are also many smaller mammals that call the park home.

During your visit to Capitol Reef National Park, you may stumble across small mammals like prairie dogs, beavers, squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, and one of 19 species of bats that inhabit the region. Be sure to bring your camera along when hiking through the canyons, but remember to maintain a safe distance from any animals that you see.


With over 230 species of birds found throughout Capitol Reef, the park has become a popular bird-watching destination. The park’s bird population includes a mix of year-round residents and seasonal dwellers, so you can expect to see different types of birds depending on the time of year.

Commonly spotted birds include golden eagles, spotted owls, peregrine falcons, ravens, orioles, pinyon jays, bluebirds, and wrens. If you plan on embarking on a bird-watching adventure, check out the Fremont River Trail in the Fruita area or the riparian vegetation along Sulphur Creek for the best sightings.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are many species of reptiles and amphibians that can be found throughout the Capitol Reef area. Because these are cold-blooded animals, they become inactive during the wintertime and are primarily spotted in the warmer months. The park is home to 6 species of snakes, 10 species of lizards, and 5 species of amphibians including frogs and toads.

During the summertime, snakes can be found sunbathing on rocks or hiding under them. These solitary creatures generally keep to themselves, so you may not see any on your trip. Lizards, on the other hand, are frequently spotted scurrying around the park on sunny days.

Capitol Reef’s amphibian population can be found near bodies of water like streams and springs. Head over to the Waterpocket Fold for your best chance of spotting amphibians like the red-spotted toad, woodhouse’s toad, canyon treefrog, and northern leopard frog.

Final Thoughts

With such a vast array of wildlife in the beautiful Capitol Reef National Park, you’re bound to spot quite a few interesting animals during your travels.

Keep Capitol Reef Country Forever Mighty

What is Forever Mighty? It’s practicing responsible travel while visiting Utah and Capitol Reef Country by following the principles of Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace.

Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, be considerate of others, support local business and honor community, history and heritage. Help us keep Utah and Capitol Reef Country’s outdoor recreation areas beautiful, healthy, and accessible.

Share Article

Leave a comment