Big America: Bighorn Sheep of the Grand Canyon

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Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep at the Grand Canyon. Photo by Arlo

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep, Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Sure-footed, graceful and family-oriented, the bighorn mountain sheep (Ovis canadensisis) is an iconic image of the American west. Associated with durability and ruggedness, the sheep are nonetheless not always easy to observe in the wild. Regular residents of the Grand Canyon, the sheep are only infrequently seen by park staff and seldom so by visitors. So, when I walked out of the Kachina Lodge on the Canyon’s South Rim Sunday morning and saw a large sheep, I was elated. The animal was not just in plain sight, but was actually standing on the Rim Trail’s stone wall, basking in the morning sunlight.

Boca and I had stayed at this rim lodge the night before and were thus able to spend a good deal of time with the sheep and her family that morning. A herd of roughly a dozen or more made there way from east to west just below the Rim Trail. They would stop to sun, feed, rest and socialize along the way, always precariously balanced between solid rock and a harrowing drop to the Canyon floor. One large ram led the herd and showed nearly constant interest in the hind quarters of a particular, but seemingly unintrested ewe. The other females led the young, consisting of four or five mid-sized juveniles and one small kid that seemed newborn, exhausted and bewildered with life on the edge of the Canyon. It was a beautiful fall morning well spent in the company of the Canyon wall’s wild masters.

Big horn sheepGrand Canyon

Bighorn Ram

A bighorn ram. Photo: Arlo


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One Response to “Big America: Bighorn Sheep of the Grand Canyon”

  1. Virginia says:

    Dear Arlo,

    Knowing he context of this trip, I have to say that I think it is no simple coincidence that you had the privilege to spend a few morning hours in the company of these wonderful creatures. This is a well deserved treat and a welcome home message from your beloved wilderness. I am happy that you are experiencing this and grateful for your sharing.

    Just one question: this looks more like a goat than a sheep doesn’t it? Since I was a child, I have always been a fan of the “cabra montesa”, or Iberian mountain “Capra pyrenaica” (being a “goat” myself by horoscope of course!): http://www.sierradebaza.org/Fichas_fauna/04_02_cabramontes/cabramontes.htm

    Keep up the good traveling and work! Looking forward to the next adventure

    Virginia W.

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