Watchable wildlife at Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park is home to an array of animals that may offer wildlife viewing opportunities to lucky visitors. Coues whitetail deer, javelina, coyote, and black bear have all been seen within the park and really add to the excitement and wonder of this beautiful park nestled in Oak Creek Canyon. A huge variety of bird species, smaller mammals and various reptiles can be seen and experienced as well. Animal sightings during a trip to Slide Rock convince visitors that this park isn't just for water recreation. Learn where to view Arizona's diverse wildlife species throughout your state park system on the Arizona Wildlife page.
Coues Whitetail Deer
This diminutive sub-species of whitetail deer frequents the park and offers visitors a chance to appreciate this unique deer with regularity in its natural habitat. Native only to Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, Coues whitetails are indeed a pleasure to watch within this part of their isolated range. Their graceful, calculated movements help them navigate the steep, rugged terrain of habitats they typically inhabit, like Sedona’s Slide Rock State Park.
Unlike mule deer that are typically most active close to sunrise and sunset, Coues whitetails can often be seen feeding and on their feet at any time during the day. A small pair of biunoculars or a camera zoom will help you enjoy these park regualrs from a distance to ensure they stay comfortable within the park and continue to return for the enjoyment of everyone that visits. Watch the shadows on the west end of the park for deer feeding on the lush vegetation, and always keep an eye out for a visitor in the park picnic area.
Arizona’s black bear population is doing very well and Slide Rock State Park is right in the middle of prime black bear habitat. Black bears are in fact, not always black! Brown, blonde, and cinnamon colored specimens can be found throughout their range and offer wildlife watchers a unique chance to see these different color phase bears in their natural habitat.
Black bears in Arizona, and throughout their range are very secretive by nature, and although they are not seen with regularity in the park, the chance for an encounter is always present. Please keep a safe distance should you see a bear in the park! Although visitors are encouraged to enjoy their bear encounter and hopefully memorialize it with some photos, we must remind everyone that these are wild animals that require space. During the fall months, as the bears increase calorie intake before hibernating they are very actively feeding throughout the day. This is your best chance to see one of these iconic staples of Oak Creek Canyon country.
Park visitors have a very distinct possibility to experience one of Arizona’s native treasures, the Collared Peccary; more commonly known as Javelina. These medium sized mammals are always fun to watch and can be seen readily within the park as they go about their daily business. As herd animals, if one can be seen, typically there’s more nearby. Keep an eye out for movement in the brush, or simply listen to the subtle social feeding sounds of the rest of the herd. Or, at times, you can follow your nose to a javelina sighting as well. These guys emit a very pungent odor from a small gland on their back.
Javelina are relatively near sighted which allows photographers and wildlife watchers a chance of up close and personal time with the javelina. Please keep in mind that these are wild animals and we ask that you admire them from a safe distance. Because javelina do not respond well to cold temperatures, they can often be seen soaking up the sun on chilly Oak Creek Canyon days. The far west end of the picnic area seems to be a great place to see javelina enjoying the park.
Year-round bird populations are supplemented seasonally with migrants passing through Oak Creek Canyon on their way to wintering grounds. The variety of habitat types within the park make this a great place to view over 140 bird species within all habitats. This worldwide birding destination offers up the chance to see both common and rare specimens within arguable the most scenic location in Arizona. Arriving at the park prepared for bird encounters greatly increases the likelihood of a memorable experience. To effectively watch birds in the park, a small pair of binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens will help see the fine detailed markings that make each specie uniquely beautiful.
Simply take a stroll through any section of the park and look for movement within the various vegetation, on rocks, or even the creek itself. It pays huge dividends to take your time by moving slowly while searching for Slide Rock birds. Although movement will likely tip you off to the presence of birds, at times they are fairly still as they watch the world around them.