Take a Peek into the Wild World of Wildlife

September 1, 2023

PHOENIX – Catching a glimpse of wildlife can spice up any outdoor adventure, and Arizona’s state parks have a wide-variety of animals to see. Here are some species you may encounter, plus tips to keep you safe and help you spot them.

  • Javelina: Otherwise known as the collared peccary, javelina can be found in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, through Mexico and into Argentina! Javelina are usually about 18-24 inches tall (think medium-sized dog) and weigh between 35-55 pounds. Javelina have a great sense of smell, average hearing capabilities and very poor eyesight. Washes, rolling hills, and other topography features make up their typical dwelling areas, with access to a water source.
  • Coues deer: This small, beautiful subspecies of whitetail is native to Arizona and the desert southwest. The biggest difference between Coues whitetails and their other whitetail cousins is the size. Coues deer bucks (males) are only about 30 inches tall and only the biggest will attain weigh over 100 pounds. The slate gray coloration of Coues deer helps them blend in with their habitat to aid in the evasion of their main predators, mountain lions.
  • Coatis: These social animals can cause confusion when first seen, with their long tails and propensity for trees. Coatimundi are closely related to a raccoon, but often look like long-tailed monkeys when spotted. Coatis are fun to watch and can be seen during the daytime, foraging for food. They eat insects, fruit, rodents, lizards and small snakes. Groups can be as large as 30 individuals and typically contain young animals and females.
  • A chuckwalla basking in the sun on a rockChuckwalla: If you haven’t caught a glimpse of one of these desert lizards, keep your eyes peeled! Chuckwallas have the ability to change their body color to match their surroundings, which helps evade predators. They will also retreat quickly into tight rock crevices when threatened. But adult males can reach 16 inches in length and two pounds in weight and have reddish-pink to orange, orange, yellow or light gray bodies and black heads, so these striking reptiles can be spotted in many desert parks. (image courtesy @jermojohnson)

Many parks have hidden trail cameras set up to capture footage of park wildlife enjoying their natural habitats. Park rangers can help you understand what you might see at the park, where to look, and how to best identify what you see. Remember, keep plenty of distance between you and any wildlife you may encounter, never feed wildlife, and don’t approach or touch them. Letting these creatures enjoy the parks ensures repeat viewings and safety for everyone involved.


Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.

For information about the more than 30 Arizona State Parks and Natural Areas, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office, call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.

PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (480) 589-8877- Email: pio@azstateparks.gov