Colorado River Rafting Trips Offer Glimpse of Grand Canyon Wildlife

Grand canyon water rafting

With close to five million visitors every year, Grand Canyon National Park sometimes feels more like a city of humans in the wild than it does pure, unadorned nature. While the breathtaking views from the rim are worth the trip alone, there’s more to the Canyon than rocks and gorges. The area is teeming with wildlife, some of it unique to the Arizona area — but with so many people around, animals can be difficult to spot from the top of the canyon.
Whether you’re a bird lover or reptile fiend, the Grand Canyon area has something for everyone, with over 250 kinds of birds, 70 mammal species, and plenty of reptiles and amphibians. The best way to get a glimpse of them, however, is to get down into the gorge itself. A Colorado River rafting trip, for example, is an excellent way to get away from the crowds and experience the Canyon from a completely different perspective.
Rafting isn’t just about the adrenaline rush you’ll no doubt get as you cruise through the whitewaters. There are calmer portions of the river, too, where you can unobtrusively observe the splendor of wildlife around you. You’re bound to see the common mule deer, which can weigh up to 200 pounds, and maybe you’ll even spot an elk. Watch caves and canopies in particular if you want to score a rare sighting of one of the area’s mountain lions or bighorn sheep.
Serious birders probably won’t want to bring their binoculars along with them on a bumpy Colorado River rafting trip, but with some of North America’s largest birds of prey abundant in the area, you won’t need them. Bald eagles and golden eagles alike soar through the skies, as do red tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, and turkey vultures. Look carefully, though, and you might even spy the rare, elusive, and incredibly endangered California Condor with its 9-foot wingspan.
Whitewater rafting is all about the water, of course, and here you’ll find plenty of wildlife, too. Catfish and walleye are common catches for fishermen in the region, though endangered species like the bonytail minnow and razorback sucker are also endemic to the region. You might not be allowed to flyfish on a Colorado River rafting trip, but you can still feast with your eyes!
If you really want to experience the Grand Canyon in its wildest form, get to the source. The Colorado River has spent 1.75 billion years cutting through the region’s magnificent rock — roughly half the time that Earth’s been a planet! There’s more to see down in the water itself, where you can watch the Canyon go by from the animals’ point of view.

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