Man-eaters? Toe-biters? Flying blood-suckers? Nah, probably not. The Arizona desert does harbor some fascinating and very unique critters but, for the most part, the ones that could do you harm try to stay as far away from you and your campsite as they can. In all my years in Arizona, I’ve never once seen a wild mountain lion; I’ve never even seen a bobcat in Grand Canyon. And, while you might see some scorpions (if you go hunting for them at night) or maybe even a Grand Canyon pink rattlesnake (if you get really lucky) on your raft trip, chances are these guys will be trying to get away from you as fast as they can.
So what will you see on your Colorado River trip? You’ll probably see a lot of lizards, for starters. Big, fat chuckwalla lizards tend to hide in shady rock holes, and smaller collared lizards likely will be scooting by you on your hikes.
You might see some mule deer on the river banks, as you float past, or maybe even a coyote, though neither sighting is especially common on our trips. Mountain goats also reside in Grand Canyon, but they aren’t spotted nearly as often as desert bighorn sheep.
If you watch the water around dusk or dawn, you might see a beaver cruising close to shore and, near the confluence of the Little Colorado River, you might see a Colorado River native, the endangered humpback chub.
If you keep your eyes on the sky, you might get lucky and see a California condor (these guys are most common in Marble Canyon, where many of our trips begin) or even a peregrine falcon. You probably will spot some turkey vultures and you’ll definitely have some close encounters with the wily ravens. What you won’t see buzzing overhead are mosquitoes; these little nasties don’t like the extremely arid Grand Canyon climate.
Enjoy whatever wildlife you encounter on your trip and remember, nobody’s out to get you. Except maybe the ants — so try not to leave any crumbs for them in camp.