Saturday, April 7, 2018

Desert Bighorn Sheep in Zion National Park

My son, Jason, and I had finished a day hike in Zion National Park a few weeks ago and were on our way over to Bryce Canyon National Park as part of a weekend road trip we had planned when Jason spotted a small herd of Desert Bighorn Sheep grazing on sagebrush, junipers, and sparse grass patches along a sandstone slope. We encountered the mix young rams, a few ewes, and lambs on the east side of the park shortly after we exited the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. That tunnel, by the way, was constructed in the late 1920's to give direct access to Bryce Canyon NP from Zion NP. When it was originally constructed it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States.

We parked our truck upon seeing the herd and joined a few other park visitors who watched, recorded, and photographed the sheep as they lazily grazed from one food source to another.  The tallest of these sheep stood about 4 feet if measured to the tops of their heads. They seemed noticeably smaller than the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep I'd observed in northern parts of Utah.

One of these days I'll have to go back down to Zion when the sheep are rutting so I can capture some action photos of the big boys ramming heads to impress the girls. This little herd was quite calm during our observation. No one ram was trying to dominate another.