Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Flora & Fauna

An incredible variety of plant and animal resources vitally contributed to the sustenance of the native people for thousands of years. Mule Deer, rabbits and other small game were probably hunted in all life zones, depend-ing on the season of the year. Many varieties of seeds were collected from grasses growing in the meadows. The pinion and juniper forests provided materials for shelters, food, fuel, medicine, tools, dyes, jewelry and ceremonial articles. In neighboring valleys, the Paiutes spent the winters digging sego lily bulbs, as well as picking prickly pears and other cactus fruits. From the tough, sinewy fibers of the yucca, they made rope which was used to catch lizards, birds and rabbits. The tribe gathered acorns from the Gambel oaks to grind into a multipurpose meal, and collected the seeds from pinion pinecones to mash and bake into cakes.

Pinion pine nuts and juniper berries are still a main ingredient in the park's vital food chain. Ground squirrels, Mule Deer, mice, Wood Rats, birds and chipmunks devour the nuts and, in turn, are preyed upon by hawks, eagles, bobcats, Ringtails, foxes, and sometimes Coyotes and Mountain Lions. Pinion pine nuts and juniper berries are also part of the diet of the Black Bear.

The Life Zones

The lowest levels in the park are home to dwarf forests of pinion pine and Utah Juniper. Sagebrush, rabbitbrush and serviceberry are common low-growing shrubs. Numerous grasses and flowers, including Indian paintbrush, also inhabit this area. Cottonwood, willow, and water birch grow in drainages where water is more plentiful.

Ascending the plateau, we reach the Ponderosa Pine Forests. Utah juniper is replaced by Rocky Moun-tain Juniper. Blue Spruce and Douglas-fir intermingle in the wettest locations. Manzanita and Antelope Bitterbrush make up most of the shrubby undergrowth that is dominated by the sun-loving Ponderosa Pines. 

Above is the high country. Here, the Paunsaugunt Plateau rises to 9,100 feet near the park's southern end. At these elevations, Ponderosa Pine is replaced by Douglas-fir, white fir, aspen and spruce. Limber Pine and ancient Bristlecone Pine, some perhaps 1,600 years old, inhabit wind-swept locations. Beneath the evergreens are Manzanita, Com-mon Juniper, Mountain Lover, Oregon Grape and Ceanothus.

The high country is a summer feeding ground for Mule Deer, one of the largest mammals in the park. Elk, Mountain Lion, Pronghorn and Black Bear also may be found here.