Wildlife You Could See on Your Moab, Utah Rafting Trip

Desert Bighorn Sheep

One of the best ways to experience Moab is on a rafting expedition. The white water rafting options on the Green River present a magnificent scenery adjacent to the Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. You could experience spectacular wildlife sightings during your Moab rafting trip. Our experienced guides at Red River Adventures can help you spot elusive wildlife making it an experience of a lifetime.


Practically 50 species of mammal are known to stay in Canyonlands. Some animals, like kangaroo rats, mule deer, desert cottontails, black bears, desert bighorn sheep, and mountain lions, are common and have been seen by a large number of visitors. However, several desert animals are inactive during daylight hours or are wary of people, so sighting them during your Moab rafting trip can be a truly a special event.

Bigger mammals, like mule deer and mountain lions, need to cover more regions in order to locate food and water, and often migrate to nearby mountains during the summer season. About 80 percent of a mountain lion’s diet contains mule deer, so these animals are never ever much apart. Yet, unlike mule deer, mountain lion sightings are quite unusual.

Another animal that distinctly adapted to life in the desert is the kangaroo rat. This rat eats plant matter, and you may see they spend the hot daytime hours sleeping in a cool underground burrow.

Desert bighorn sheep can be found throughout the year in Canyonlands. These animals wander the talus slopes and side canyons along the rivers, foraging on plants and climbing the high, rocky surface with ease. Once at risk of coming to be extinct, the desert bighorn is currently making a tentative comeback that has actually been sustained by the Canyonlands healthy herds.

The black bear is an interesting fall visitor to Canyonlands. This will be a unique sight in the red rock canyons. Black bears usually follow river and stream corridors, like Salt Creek Canyon in The Needles, that flow from close-by mountains. These visits normally occur in late August and September when prickly pear cactus and hackberry trees bear their fruit. The bears return to the mountains before wintertime.


Canyonlands’ warm climate and lack of water seem to favor little mammals. Due to their size, these animals are unable to migrate long distances, but it is much easier for them to locate shelter, plus they need very little food and water to live.

If you are keen to spot rodents, there are around nine species of mice and rats alone. Beavers, the biggest North American rodent, are found along the Colorado and Green rivers. Considering that the rivers are too swift and broad to dam, beavers burrow in the banks of the river.


Due to the diverse topography of Canyonlands, it is considered a hotspot for bird watching. Around 273 species have been seen in the park, including seasonal and year-round birds, as well as the ones that migrate. During summer, you will be able to sight, turkey vultures, and white-throated swifts circle above the canyons. While in winter, juncos and white-crowned sparrows forage around trees and shrubs.

In summer and spring, the rivers in the morning time are filled with birdsong, like yellow-breasted chats, blue grosbeaks, canyon wrens and spotted towhees. While rafting in Moab you will be able to see the great blue herons often hunting for fish, and cooper’s hawks deftly maneuvering through the trees beyond the riverbanks.

You may be lucky enough to sight black-throated sparrows and western meadowlarks frequently in the grasslands. Whereas Pinyon jays, scrub jays, juniper titmice and black-throated gray warblers will be usually seen in pinyon-juniper woodlands.


In your Moab, Utah River rafting trip, expect to come across some reptiles, lizards, and snakes. These reptiles play an important part in the ecosystem. If you are visiting during the summer, you are sure to see lots of lizards. Lizards found here include the desert spiny, the colorful western collared lizard, and the northern whiptail. Most of the snakes found here are nocturnal and harmless. However, on your trip, you might sight the midget-faded rattlesnake. These snakes live in burrows and rock crevices and are mostly active at night.


The Colorado River and its tributaries are among the world’s most spectacular river systems. Around 54 species of native and non-native fish have inhabited the upper Colorado River basin. On your rafting trip, you will be able to spot native fish like Colorado pikeminnow (formerly squawfish), flannelmouth sucker, and razorback, as well as humpback and bonytail chub. All these have been listed as endangered species. Today, non-native fish dominate the rivers. Channel and carp catfish are the most commonly seen.

Make Your Moab Rafting Trip Memorable

If you are planning a full day or half-day rafting trip in Moab, the experts at Red Rivers Adventures are sure to make your trip something to remember. Call us or you can even book your fun summer adventure trip online.

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We strive to ensure that time spent with us is time that you will always look back on fondly. We want to leave you with a memories that bring a smile to your face no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, and no matter how much time has passed. In addition to a deep reservoir of personal experience, our rafting guides are licensed by the state of Utah, have Wilderness First Responder and/or First Aid/CPR certifications, and are insured. Many guides also have swiftwater rescue training. Our climbing and canyoneering guides are AMGA-certified for the terrain in which they operate. Our skiing guides are certified for the terrain, and some are world-renowned for their experience. All of our guides are intimately acquainted with not only the river, rock and snow, but also with the incredible surroundings of the areas we guide.