Northern Utah Wildlife
Below we list a few of the better spots to observe wildlife in northern Utah.Hardware Ranch, 18 miles east of Hyrum at the head of Blacksmith Fork Canyon, offers the opportunity to view thousands of Rocky Mountain elk. Wagon rides with Dutch oven dinner are offered through the summer for groups of 25 or more. Sleigh rides glide through the elk, December through March. Snowmobile rentals, fuel, and hot meals are available. The visitor center features interpretive materials on elk and telescope viewing of the huge herd. An all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner is offered on Friday and Saturday nights. During the winter, visitors can snowmobile to overnight cabin accommodations (435-753-6168).
The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, west of Brigham City in Box Elder County, provides phenomenal bird watching during the Spring, Summer and Fall. From the arrival of American Avocet, White-faced Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Snowy Plover and other shorebirds in the spring to the tens of thousands of tundra swans and other waterfowl in the Fall, this refuge is "must see" for birders in northern Utah! The Refuge's 12 mile-long auto tour route is open year round, weather and road conditions permitting. From Interstate 15, take Exit 363, Forest Street, at Brigham City and turn west 13 miles to the Refuge. Restrooms and printed information are available on-site. Consult the Refuge's "Birding Information Line" 435-734-6426 for a recorded message of recent sightings.
Cutler Marsh offers wildlife viewing in classic wetland habitat. White pelicans, great blue herons, sandhill cranes, western grebes, common egrets, plus a wide variety of ducks, geese, and shorebirds may be viewed from roadways or by canoe or kayak during spirng, summer and fall. The number of marsh birds and the diversity is spectacular.
Ogden Nature Center, 966 W 12th Street. This is a 152-acre nature preserve and education center open to the public for discovery and exploration. Visitors enjoy meeting birds of prey, snakes, tortoises, salamanders and other native animal species. Outside there are picnic areas, tree houses, bird blinds, a spotting tower and 1.5 miles of walking trails. The Nature Center boasts two of Utah's greenest buildings, with hands-on nature exhibits and a unique gift store. The Center offers a wide variety of community programs including art, photography, birding, wildlife in Utah, outdoor recreation, conservation, sustainable practices and more. During the school year naturalists lead outdoor field trips for school children and in the summer, week-long nature camps. Several community events are held at the Nature Center including Earth Day and Creatures of the Night at Halloween. Open year-round from 9 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9 am - 4 pm. Closed Sundays and most major holidays. ogdennaturecenter.org
The North Arm Viewing Site, adjacent to Pineview Reservoir, features a nature trail. This area hosts a wide variety of songbirds such as the yellow warbler, lazuli bunting, white crowned sparrow, and northern oriole. It also hosts many shorebirds and waterfowl species as well as birds of prey, such as bald eagles and red-tailed hawks.
One of the most productive wetland complexes in the nation is Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area. Here large numbers and varieties of grebes, ducks, geese, raptors, plovers, sandpipers, gulls, and terns may be viewed. Peak numbers of migratory ducks occur in September and this spectacle may be viewed by hiking along the dikes or from the vehicle loop. The Farmington Bay State Waterfowl Management Area is a wetland system with sweeping scenic views and many species of shore, wading and migratory birds. Golden Spike National Historic Site provides viewing of one of the few sharp-tailed grouse populations in Utah. These birds, along with sage grouse, may be seen strutting and dancing on their breeding grounds at daybreak in late winter and early spring. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is one of the largest of its kind in the nation. Visitors can drive the 12-mile scenic tour and see habitat for more than 200 species of birds.
Antelope Island is the largest of the nine islands within the Great Salt Lake, and is part of Utah State's Park System. Sandy beaches give way to foothills where you will find diverse wildlife, including several hundred bison (American buffalo) that descended from the original 12 brought to the island in 1893. Over 40 fresh water springs on the island support the bison herds, as well as a populations of coyote, pronghorn sheep, big horn sheep and other animals. Wildlife is abundant and easily viewed from your car on paved roads, or from the many hiking trails. The Visitors Center is a great place to get acquainted with the island's history and animal life.
Over 250 species of birds nest and feed here, or pass by on migratory routes. Chukars (which look like large quail - and originally from Pakistan) are found scurrying alongside the roads year-round. Bald eagles, ducks, and prairie falcons are found in January, February, and March, with peregrine falcons, stilts, and burrowing owls through the rest of spring. Canada geese goslings are born in June, pelicans are seen in August, and wintering ducks are found in December.
Fielding Garr Ranch is a beautiful place to visit when on Antelope Island. Horses can be rented here and ridden into the surrounding area to view the wildlife up close. Birds in the ranch area include American redstarts, vireos, hermit thrush, northern shrike, great horned owls, and long-eared owls. The gates at the ranch are open from 9 am to 6 pm.
Just east of Salt Lake City, the White Pine Lake viewing site is a short hike through the scenic Wasatch Mountains to view pikas, snowshoe hares, Uinta ground squirrels, golden-mantled ground squirrels, Clark's nutcrackers, pine grosbeaks, and other high mountain species.
Shore birds, wading birds, and waterfowl galore can also be seen at the Great Salt Lake shore west of Salt Lake City. White-faced ibis, gulls, terns, phaloropes, and avocets are visible during the spring and summer months, while waterfowl are more common during the fall migration. Near Stockton and Vernon, a large group of wintering bald eagles feed on the blacktail jackrabbit population which lives in the sagebrush desert. Eagles and other raptors roost in cottonwood trees planted on area farmlands. In the winter, large numbers of elk and mule deer can be seen on the west side of the Oquirrh Mountains, near Erda, Lakepoint and Tooele.
Cascade Springs, east of the Provo valley, offers wildlife viewing from a trail system constructed over mountain springs which discharge over seven million gallons of water daily. Brook trout can be seen darting from the cover of aquatic vegetation in the crystal clear pools. In the surrounding habitats songbirds fill the air each spring. Strawberry Valley offers as much wildlife diversity as any place in the state. Spawning cutthroat trout, nesting sandhill cranes, herds of elk and mule deer, soaring raptors, rafts of white pelicans and double crested cormorants...to name a few. A short hike across a rockslide trail will lead you to mountain goat habitat on Bald Mountain. The trail winds to the top of the 12,000 foot mountain where a few other species such as pika and Clark's nutcracker may also be seen. Bald eagles are sighted at the Henefer/Echo Wildlife Management Area.
In northeastern Utah, Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the focal point for some of the best wildlife watching in Utah. A boat trip on the reservoir permits viewing of osprey nesting atop rocky pinnacles near the water. Lucerne Peninsula is home to a herd of pronghorn antelope, many of which may be observed grazing in the campground there. Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway (Hwy 44 and US 191), with its theme of 'Wildlife Through the Ages,' offers drive-by viewing of bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and moose, especially during the spring months. In the arid Uinta basin, Ouray National Wildlife Refuge and Pariette Wetlands offer viewing of vast numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds from spring through fall in wetland oases. Bald eagles winter along the Green River in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. Both the Ouray and Pariette sites have interpretive information and facilities.
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