If you're planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, you're in for the experience of a lifetime. This iconic American landmark is something everyone should see at least once during the course of their lifetime. You'll get a firsthand look at some of the most amazing vistas on the planet as well as see an abundant amount of wildlife. For the most part, wildlife encounters are rare among human visitors to the Grand Canyon, but visitors should nonetheless be as prepared as possible and understand that the best way to deal with a wildlife encounter is to do your best from preventing one from happening the first place.
The Grand Canyon is home to a diverse collection of wildlife, and most, such as snowshoe hares, mule deer, and bighorn sheep, pose little to no threat toward human visitors. However, the park is also home to mountain lions, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and raccoons -- and there is even the occasional black bear sighting.
You probably already know to keep picnic sites cleaned up while on the trail and other basic wildlife safety strategies, but there are some lesser ones that you should know about. Following are five best practices designed to keep unwanted wildlife encounters to a minimum while hiking in the Grand Canyon.
Avoid Hiking at Dawn, Dusk, and After Dark
Mule deer and elk are both what's known as crepuscular species, meaning they're most active at dawn and again at dusk. Although large herds of these magnificent mammals are truly a beautiful site to see, their predators think so too. Anytime you see deer or elk in large numbers, it's a sure bet that mountain lions and coyotes are somewhere nearby.
Although hiking through a landscape lit up only by the moon and stars sounds incredibly romantic, this activity should be avoided at all costs. Predators -- including mountain lions -- are generally more active after the sun goes down, and you also have the disadvantage of not being able to see nearly as well as they can after dark.
Wear Unscented Grooming Products
Sunscreen, lip balm, and insect repellent all play an important role in keeping hikers comfortable in the wilderness, but stick with unscented products so foraging wildlife, such as black bears, doesn't mistake you for a honey hive or a bush brimming with juicy ripe berries.
Keep Your Furry Friend Leashed
Although it may be tempting to let your canine companion off its leash so it can frolic freely while you're hiking in the Grand Canyon, keep it leashed at all times for its own safety as well as for yours. A dog that's running around may attract the attention of predators such as coyotes and mountain lions -- and when your pet invariably runs back in your direction, the predator will be hot on its heels.
Wear Sturdy Hiking Shoes and Long Pants
Most snakebites occur when the snake has been startled by a hiker either stepping directly onto it or coming too close for comfort. Because these reptiles are the color of sand, dust, and dry vegetation, they can be difficult to spot when on the trail. Always keep a sharp eye out for them, and wear thick, sturdy hiking shoes and long pants to minimize the chances of the snake's fangs breaking the skin in the unlikely event that you do get bitten by one.
Black bears and mountain lions, in particular, will generally quickly move out of the area when they hear signs of human activity. Hikers should keep up a steady stream of conversation, and if you and your group get tired of talking, you can always sing a few songs while on the trail.
Get in touch with a Grand Canyon tour company for more information and tips.