From spiny lizards, great hairy scorpions and ladybugs to elk, eagles and buffalo, Arizona holds an abundance of unusual and majestic wildlife in a variety of ecological settings.
Here are five ways to see Arizona’s watchable wildlife this summer.
On Your Own
Arizona’s millions of natural acres teem with wildlife. You might get a good look as you crisscross the backcountry on roads, trails or waterways on a self-guided tour.
The forested Lamar Haines Memorial Wildlife Area north of Flagstaff sports herds of elk and mule deer, while the House Rock Wildlife Area west of Highway 89 generally contains pronghorn antelope as well as managed herds of buffalo.
Arizona’s Sky Island mountains, rising above the state’s southeast desert floors, turn red-orange with ladybugs every summer.
For a wetter experience, head to Alamo Lake State Park on the Bill Williams River where you can spy waterfowl, shore birds, Sonoran mud turtles, Great Plains toads and other wetland animals.
You don’t even have to venture into the wilderness to see wildlife. Bats take nightly summer flights from beneath bridges in north Tucson and from the Maricopa County Flood Control tunnels in Phoenix.
If you prefer more guidance in your wildlife exploration, knowledgeable guides can take you to nature’s best sites for spying Arizona’s critters.
Sierra Vista’s Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in August leads field trips to see birds, butterflies, dragonflies and bats.
Arizona Safari Jeep Tours’ Wildlife Safari Tour reveals deer, turkey and bobcat among Sedona’s red rocks.
For a Grand Canyon experience, ply the Colorado River with Canyon Explorations – one of several outfitters – and be on the lookout for beaver, condor, common chuckwalla and humpback chub.
Narrators aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad out of Clarkdale point out eagle nesting sites and likely places in the Verde Valley to see great blue heron, javelina and hawks from the train.
Along Arizona’s Paths
Pack your camera for one of these leisurely strolls that often promise great wildlife spotting in summer.
During nighttime Scorpion Scavenger Hunts in Queen Creek’s San Tan Mountain Regional Park, rangers help the curious seek out the interesting arthropods.
Take a scheduled walk at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior to see lizards, dragonflies, songbirds or aquatic birds that reside among the exhibits of desert ecosystems.
Birding is big in Arizona. Seek out native and migratory birds on guided walks at Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Hart Prairie Preserve near Flagstaff and the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.
Face to Face
Binoculars aren’t required for the close views offered by Arizona zoos and wildlife parks. Many also present shows and educational activities.
Find bighorn sheep, coyotes, rattlesnakes and other Arizona fauna at the Navajo Nation Zoo and Botanical Park in Window Rock and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.
Animals from around the world reside at the Phoenix Zoo in metro Phoenix’s Papago Park, Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary in Prescott, Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park and Sea Life Arizona in Tempe.
Cruise among the critters in your car at Bearizona near Williams or while riding in safari vehicles at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde.
Watch and Learn
You learn much from simply watching animals go about their business. For deeper insight, attend these summer events.
High Country Hummers Festival in July at the Sipe White Mountains Wildlife Area near Springerville focuses on capturing and banding hummingbirds.
Live animals highlight hands-on presentations at the White Mountain Wildlife and Nature Center in Pinetop-Lakeside.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department presents natural history workshops on bighorn sheep followed by field study from boats on Canyon Lake near Tortilla Flat and the Colorado River near Hoover Dam.