US Southwest bits

I’m back from a short trip to SW Utah and NW Arizona. It was not a mammalwatching trip, but here are a few bits some visitors might find useful.

  1. I expected rodent numbers to be really high after a rainy winter, but apparently all those California storms didn’t make it that far inland. There were hardly any wildflowers, and an hour of spotlighting on House Rock Rd. in Vermillion Cliffs Nat’l Monument (AZ) produced just one kangaroo rat (a banner-tailed). The only place with lots of k-rat tracks and burrows was White Pocket (also in VCNM); it is also a promising location for larger mammals as there are a few permanent puddles; there were lots of tracks on the banks including some of ringtails. Getting there requires a 4wd with high clearance (yes, it really does), but the place is totally worth the effort, being one the world’s most spectacular geological formations. Directions available online are outdated; you can obtain better directions from Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat’l Monument office in Kanab (there’s also a place to rent a jeep there).
  2. There were lots of juvenile bobcat tracks on riverbanks below Wahweep Hoodoos; I think there was a den somewhere, but I was there with a 2 year-old kid and couldn’t spend much time searching. If you get there in the next few days and spend a night, you’ll probably have a good chance of seeing them. Getting there requires a bit of hiking (8.6 miles round-trip, level), but this place is also worth the effort (directions are easy to find online).
  3. I found an Allen’s big-eared bat night-roosting under Weeping Rock in Zion Nat’l Park about 20 min after sunset (it wasn’t even dark yet).
  4. Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas should be great for mammalwatching, but until recently it was only accessible during daytime. Now you can get an overnight permit simply by calling (702) 515-5350; the permits are intended for rock climbers but you don’t have to be one. Unfortunately, I only learned about this after leaving.


  • Venkat Sankar

    Hi, Vladimir. I’m wondering what species are in Red Rock Canyon SP – I’m planning on visiting S CA (I got a tip for Stephen’s K-rat) in a couple weeks or so and since Red Rock Canyon is nearby, was wondering if there are any particularly interesting species I have a good chance of seeing here in NV that are difficult in S CA. Thanks!

    • Vladimir Dinets

      No idea. Their website mentions bighorns and kit foxes. I am sure there are lots of Heteromyids, and probably cactus mice, desert shrews, ringtails and spotted skunks. It’s also at the N range limit for many bats, including Mexican long-tongued, California leaf-nosed, western yellow, cave myotis, Allen’s big-eared, big freetail, and western bonneted.

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