Goblin Valley State Park in Utah is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Located in the San Rafael Swell, the park provides habitat to over 100 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. The most common animals that can be seen roaming around this magnificent park include mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, desert bighorn sheep, cottontail rabbits and various other small mammals.
Bird watchers will be delighted by the variety of birds that can be spotted in Goblin Valley State Park. From migratory songbirds such as black-chinned hummingbirds to raptors like red-tailed hawks, visitors may encounter a wide variety of avian species while exploring the park. The park is also home to a variety of waterfowl, such as mallards, pintails and ruddy ducks.
The most iconic animal of Goblin Valley State Park is the jackrabbit. This large hare can often be seen bounding across the desert landscape and is easily identified by its distinctive long ears. Jackrabbits are a vital part of the park's ecosystem, providing food for other animals such as coyotes and foxes. Their diet consists of grasses, herbs and other vegetation. Jackrabbits are also important pollinators as they forage for food in various plant species. They can be seen throughout the year, but it is most common to see them during springtime when temperatures begin to warm.
The pronghorn is a large ungulate found in Goblin Valley State Park. This unique species has impressive speed and stamina, and can outrun most predators by reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour! The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in North America, making it an incredible sight to behold when encountered at the park. Pronghorn are unique among other ungulates, as the males have horns that are grown and shed each year. They feed primarily on grasses, forbs, and shrubs and can be seen grazing in the park's open meadows.
While not as majestic as many other animals, scorpions are a common sight in Goblin Valley State Park. These arachnids are most active during the night and can be found hiding under rocks or logs during the day. Scorpions vary in size and color, and visitors should take special care to avoid contact with them when exploring park trails. Scorpions have a painful sting that can cause serious injury if not treated. Fortunately, most of the scorpions found in Goblin Valley State Park are small enough that their venom is not dangerous to humans. Nonetheless, visitors should be cautious and watch where they step while exploring the park.
Kangaroo rats are small rodents that inhabit the deserts of Goblin Valley State Park. These animals are mostly nocturnal and can be seen scurrying around in search of seeds and other food sources at night. Kangaroo rats have a distinctive hopping gait, making them easily identifiable when encountered. They are excellent burrowers and use their burrows to stay cool during the heat of the day. Unlike other rodents, kangaroo rats do not carry food in their cheeks but instead, store it in underground chambers created by their powerful front legs.
Rattlesnakes are one of the most feared animals in Goblins Valley State Park, although they are actually quite rare. These venomous snakes primarily feed on small mammals such as mice and rats, and will only attack humans if provoked or threatened. Visitors should take extra care when hiking around the park to avoid any unnecessary confrontation with rattlesnakes. The snakes can be identified by the presence of a rattle at the end of their tails, which is used as a warning signal to potential predators. When encountered, rattlesnakes will coil and vibrate their tail to make the distinctive ‘rattling’ noise.
Coyotes are a common sight in Goblin Valley State Park and can be heard howling at night. These medium-sized canines are highly adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats, from deserts to forests. Coyotes mainly hunt small mammals such as rabbits, mice, and voles, but will also scavenge for food if necessary. They are mainly nocturnal, however, they can also be seen during the day in more open areas. Coyotes tend to form packs with other individuals and have been known to hunt cooperatively in search of food.
The kit fox is a small canine that can be found in Goblin Valley State Park. These animals primarily hunt small rodents and are active mainly at night, making them difficult to spot during the day. Kit foxes have thick fur which helps keep them warm during winter months, allowing them to survive even in the harsh desert environment of Utah’s southwest corner.