Arriving at Southern Utah hotels for the first time, it can be tough to imagine many animals making their homes in the rocky deserts. But there are countless species that are adapted to thrive in the region’s unique and beautiful landscapes.
Capitol Reef National Park is home to dozens of mammals, reptiles, birds, and other wildlife. Some, like bighorn sheep or prairie dogs, are harmless to humans, provided that you maintain a safe distance. Others, like Midget Faded Rattlesnakes, can be more dangerous to visitors.
Planning a visit to Cougar Ridge soon? Whether you’ll be spending your time hiking, taking a scenic drive, or enjoying other activities in the park, it’s a good idea to be aware of some wildlife safety tips. Keep reading to learn how to protect yourself and Capitol Reef’s unique wildlife during your visit.
Maintain a Safe Distance
Perhaps the most important thing to remember while visiting Southern Utah hotels for the first time is that no matter the type of animal you spot, it’s important to maintain a safe distance.
Animals like mule deer, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and even rock squirrels look harmless enough. In some cases, these animals may even be so accustomed to humans that they try to approach you. This may be the case with rock squirrels, especially around picnic areas or busy trails.
However, while these animals may look harmless enough, you should never approach, pet, or feed them. Most animals will bite if you get too close, and some, including rock squirrels, carry diseases that can be passed on to humans. Getting accustomed to humans can also lead to a dependence on them for food, which can reduce an animal’s ability to fend for itself.
As a general rule, aim to stay at least 50 feet away from small mammals like squirrels, and birds or reptiles. For larger wildlife, like mule deer, bighorn sheep, or antelope, aim to stay at least 100 feet away from them on trails, in picnic areas or along roadways. If you spot an animal while in your vehicle, remain in that vehicle to view them unless you can safely park and view them from the appropriate distance.
Know What to Do if You Get Too Close
What if you’re hiking up a rocky trail, and don’t realize that you’re approaching a bighorn sheep until you’re already closer than 100 feet? Or, what if an animal starts to approach you? Knowing what to do in these situations before they arise can help you stay safe in the park.
The first thing you’ll want to do is come to a stop as soon as you spot the animal. If possible, backup to an appropriate distance. Avoid turning your back on the animal. For animals like deer or reptiles that may simply be passing by, back up as much as you are able, and then patiently wait for them to pass.
But what about animals that could be considered more dangerous? Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding area are home to black bears and mountain lions. While attacks by either animal are rare, they can happen, especially if the animal feels threatened. If either species appears to be approaching you, avoid the instinct to turn and run. Instead, stand your ground, and make yourself appear as large and loud as possible. Shout and wave your arms around while maintaining your position. In most cases, this will be enough to deter them from approaching you.
Keep Food Out of Reach
Planning to enjoy some trail snacks or maybe a picnic in the park? It’s important to pack away any trash, and never, ever feed wildlife.
Feeding wildlife can put you at risk of getting bit. It can also be very dangerous for the animals that you feed. Even “natural” foods like fruit and veggies can be unsafe for wildlife, and can also help lead to a dependence on humans.
If you can’t find a trash receptacle in your area, pack out your trash with you and throw it away when you get back to your Southern Utah hotels.
Planning Your Next Visit to Southern Utah Hotels
Dreaming of seeing a bighorn sheep, an elusive desert lizard, or other Capitol Reef wildlife? Now is a great time to start planning your next visit to the best Southern Utah hotels! Wondering where to stay in Utah? Cougar Ridge is always a good choice.
Whether you’re planning to spend your days exploring Capitol Reef or want to take advantage of the many on-site amenities available, Cougar Ridge is the perfect basecamp for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation.
Right now, when you book a stay of 3 nights or more, you’ll receive a 15% discount on your entire stay! Book today to take advantage of this limited-time deal!