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Wild Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder with its colorful landscapes, uniquely adapted wildlife, geological discoveries, clear night skies and its ancient tribal history.

The Canyon is carved by extreme forces of nature( high winds, flood waters, high altitude heat, winter ice and challenging snow storms, etc.) from above and below the canyon rims over thousands of years. It stretches down the Colorado river about 277 miles long and about 18 miles wide as well as about one mile deep(6,000 ft.)


Erosion is the master designer of the Grand Canyon's changing landscape cutting into the plateau walls like an innovative sculptor.  Continued weathering from falling rocks and mudslides have reshaped established mesas to thinner flat-topped buttes.  Relentless winds and shifting waters entering the canyon cracked walls peels back its next geological layer and erosion continues.                     

The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, erosion maker,  averages about 300 feet(91meters) across and about 40 feet (12 meters) deep.

Like dramatic theater above the Canyon rims,, deep and dark thunderstorm cumulonimbus clouds generate rolling thunder sounds, strong lightning strikes and heavy downpours.  Flash floods in the Colorado River and its slot canyons can often be a deadly challenge to canyon explorers.


Tribal Names for The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon's name according to the Hopi culture  is Ongtupqa which continues to be a holy place and a passageway to the afterlife. The base of the Grand Canyon is also considered the 

where the birthplace of all Hopi ancestors.  

In addition, the Paiute tribe("means the "people") has named the Grand Canyon Kaibab which means "mountain turned upside down".   

The Navajo named the Grand Canyon Tsekooh Hatosh.

Tsekooh means canyon and Hatsoh means the making 

of two particles(ha & tosh).

In Northeastern Arizona,  the Hopi live call themselves "Hopituh Shi-nu-mu,"

meaning "The Peaceful People" and are organized into clans often linked 

to their maternal ancestors.  Most importantly, a Hopi village is centered

around cooperation to achieve its survival needs.


Grand Canyon Wildlife

Night Time Predators















Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) Hopi Name - Tocho

Mountain lions have many names (pumas,cougars, panthers, etc.)

and have a vast range from Canada to Chile. They are the second largest wildcat in the Western Hemisphere after jaguars.

In Arizona, there are about 2,000-3,000 mountain lions.  


As solitary hunters, they patrol their "home range" territories to 

protect their prey and water resources. In the Grand Canyon, their range can be about 185 miles and they move swiftly throughout the canyonlands.


Mountain lions stalk and capture their prey such as mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and even coyotes killing about one prey animal per week. They run about fifty miles per hour to quickly capture their prey. Their retractable claws are a vital part of their hunting and climbing of trees to escape danger.  Male mountain lions weigh up to 250 lbs. and are about eight feet long.  Impressively, they can jump about twenty feet and leap horizontally thirty feet.  


Female mountain lions weigh up to 140 pounds and raise their cubs alone for about two years to learn survival skills just like wild Bengal tiger mothers do with their cubs.

Bobcat  (Lynx rufus) Hopi Name - Tokotsi


Bobcats can be different shades of brown fur with dark brown or black stripes or spots on some parts of its body.  This great camouflage color is perfect for rocky terrain. The Grand Canyon's Pinyon-Juniper forest with rocky outcrops to hide is ideal for the bobcat's habitat. The tip of its tail is black with white underneath allowing their cubs to easily follow them.


Bobcats have facial ruffs, ear tufts, white spots near the tips of their ears.  Generally bobcats are about two feet tall at the shoulder and weigh between 9-33 pounds.  


Bobcats are solitary hunters and are most active at dawn and dusk times searching for prey. The prey they hunt are cottontail rabbits, squirrels, mice, snakes, lizards, ground birds and even small deer.  Since they have exceptional hearing, they can often find prey before they know the bobcat is close to attack.  Since they are excellent climbers they can also catch prey in trees.  They are patient stalkers and can run about 30 miles per hour.


The Bobcat is about half the size of a mountain lion.  Sometimes their territories cross over each other and the mountain lion would dominate the prey in the territory.

Bobcat urine scent-marking on the ground and trees communicates its home range and possibly if a mother and her kittens' den (usually 2-4 kittens) are in the area. It helps avoid conflict with other bobcats in the area as they are fighting for prey resources.  Bobcat dens could be in the hollow of a tree, between boulders, hidden on the side of an animal trail and even under dense shrubs.


In the Grand Canyon area, bobcats can receive fatal and critical injuries from prey animals such as eagles, great horned owls, coyotes, foxes and especially adult male bobcats which could also attack their young.  Bobcats can live between five to fifteen years in the wild. 
















American Badger (Taxidea taxus) Hopi Name. - Honan

American Badgers are solitary animals and can be very territorially aggressive.  They have strong front limbs with long claws for rapid digging and for defending itself within their burrow system. Its sharp teeth and its deep hissing growl gives a serious warning to its predators.  It has long greyish fur with a distinctive white fur stripe that starts at its nose and goes down its back.


Badgers are about 20-35 inches in length and generally weigh about  14-16 pounds.  In the Grand Canyon area, badgers are found in open fields within forested habitats with Juniper pine and Ponderosa pine tree areas.  They can best find their prey like prairie dogs, ground squirrels, woodrats, moles and deer mice in these areas. They are opportunistic nocturnal feeders looking for earthworms(80% of their diet), lizards, rabbits, snakes and the eggs of ground-nesting birds.


Badgers do have their favorite seasonal home range areas with burrowing patterns for birthing and raising their young.

The badger's young emerge from their den as early as 4-5 weeks and can also be a target for predators.  Young badgers can leave their mother's protection and home at about 5-6 months old.  

They can live about 4-10 years in the wild.


The Badger's predators include mountain lions, bobcats, golden eagles and coyotes.  They do have a strong odor-scent to deter predators.  Badgers have an uneasy alliance with coyotes when they hunt prairie dogs together where the badger digs and the coyotes catch them running from their underground homes. 

Badgers can run about 19 miles per hour to chase prey and also escape from predators by diving into one of their many burrows.















American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Hopi Name - Hon Katsina


American black bears living in the American southwest and Mexico habitat

usually can be found in pinyon juniper woods, the dry chaparral shrub bush lands and desert waterhole areas. Sometimes, black bears will feed on prickly pear cactus in more open areas just like the American southwestern pioneers did.


Black bears are omnivorous meaning they eat meat and mostly plants.

Roots, berries, fruits, honey, insects, larvae and grasses are some of their foraging favorites.  Bobcats, red foxes, coyotes, wolves, beavers, squirrels, and even mice are convenient wild prey when available.


Mountain lions are apex predators that share territories with roaming black bears.  Female bears with cubs would fear an attack on their cubs from a hungry mountain lion. Black bear cubs learn to climb trees early in life to escape danger.


In the wild, black bears live about ten to thirty years.  Adult male black bears weigh about 250-400 pounds and females weigh about 1220-200 pounds.  Never run from a bear as it will trigger their instinct to chase.  Make noise, stand tall and back away slowly from a wild bear.












Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis Lupus Baileyi) "Lobo" Hopi Name - Kwewu

(They were historically present in the Grand Canyon area

and now an active breeding program for the reintroduction of Mexican wolves allows for this critically endangered wolf to be released in northern Arizona and New Mexico areas.)


The Mexican gray wolf is half the size of the North American Gray wolf (Canis Lupus)  of the northern Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest.  It is the smallest of the Gray wolf subspecies.

  • Mexican wolves typically weigh about fifty to eighty pounds and stand about 28-32 inches at the shoulder height.  It measures about 5.5 feet from nose to tail.

  • The Mexican Gray wolf's fur is a mix of gray, black, rust and cream color.  Looking closely, this wolf's eye color ranges from gold to orange and even green.  At birth their eyes are blue and change color around eight weeks of age.

  • As a wolf pack they prey on mule deer, elk and javelina.  Wolves can swiftly move about five miles per hour and then when the prey is sighted they can move up to thirty-five miles an hour.


  • In the wild, knowing the difference between a Mexican wolf and a coyote is important.  Use binoculars to determine the animal's size and facial features. The Mexican gray wolf is twice the size of a coyote and their ears are more rounded than the coyote whereas the coyote's ears are longer and more pointed. Then look at their faces, the coyote has a slender nose and face.   The Mexican wolf has a wider and shorter muzzle with a stronger bite force for capturing prey.  

  • Be alert to listen when hiking on animal trails.  wolves will communicate through a variety of vocalizations which can help 

  • best understand their position to hunt as a pack and/or communicate their intentions between each of the pack members especially if the wolf sounds come from the alpha male or female.  

  • If one is fortunate, there may be some sightings of the wolf pack communicating their intentions between each other through facial expressions, posturing and even tail positioning.  Body language speaks loudly to wolves.

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