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Zion Canyon Deer

One often underrated aspect of visiting the national parks is the chance to have an encounter with wildlife. Although sometimes these encounters are with animals most visitors do not see at their homes, such as bison and wolves, other times, these encounters are with more common animals.

At Zion National Park, the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is particularly plentiful in Zion Canyon. Unlike in other places, many of the deer in Zion Canyon lack a fear of humans. Because of this, visitors to Zion National Park have the chance to see mule deer from much closer than they may be able to elsewhere.


Mule deer get their name from their large, mule-like ears. These are an adaptation to desert heat. The large ears allow them to dissipate heat on warm summer days. Despite this adaptation, most of the time during the heat of the day, mule deer seek shade; you are more likely to see them in the morning and evening than during the middle of the day.

In spring, some of the mule deer in Zion Canyon appear emaciated after a hard winter. Because the mountain lions that are the main predator of mule deer rarely venture into Zion Canyon, some of these emaciated deer who might otherwise be killed survive, despite rough winters.


During the cooler morning and evening hours, mule deer can be found grazing in and around the campground, near Zion Lodge, and along the Pa’rus Trail and Virgin River. For those staying or visiting Springdale, they are also regular visitors to town. The pictures accompanying this blog post were taken around dawn in many of these locations.


Although the mule deer in and around Zion National Park appear friendly, they are still wild animals. Deer can buck or kick, causing serious injuries. The park recommends that visitors stay at least 25 feet away from wildlife. It is also against the law to feed any of the park’s wild animals.


Want to learn more about Zion National Park? Pick up a copy of 101 Travel Bits: Zion National Park today!


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