Like so many national parks in the US West, Yosemite is an outstanding haven for wildlife. You don’t have to stray far from paved roads to spot a black bear sow and her cubs foraging in a grassy meadow, or a red fox racing across new-fallen snow.
On just about any hiking trail, you’re likely to encounter a mule deer bounding through the forests filled with the songs and calls of myriad species of birds. Endangered bighorn sheep tenaciously survive at higher elevations, where yellow-bellied marmots dart among the granite talus, ever curious about human interlopers in their high Sierra Nevada home.
At almost the same breathtaking altitudes, the park’s Tuolumne Meadows is famous for its summer displays of alpine wildflowers. Groves of giant sequoias grow throughout Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks. In the eastern Sierra Nevada you can find stands of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest trees on Earth.
Of all the megafauna found in Yosemite National Park, black bears are what most people come to see. (The last grizzly bear was destroyed in California in the early 1920s.) If you’re lucky, you’ll observe a black bear in the wild behaving naturally, for example, foraging for berries and flowers or ripping apart logs to snag the tasty insects living underneath the bark. In park campgrounds and other developed areas, as well as during backcountry trips, proper storage of food and other scented items is of critical importance, both to protect yourself and wild bears. > See More
Just about the most easily spotted animal in the park, mule deer are almost everywhere you look, whether bounding across meadows or grazing beside trails in the forest. Mule deer are easily recognized by the shape of their ears, which really do resemble mules’ ears, and by their tails, most often white with black tips. Despite being preyed upon by mountain lions, mule deer are among the most prolific fauna in the park. You can see them year-round, but their most active time is in the fall, when males energetically battle each other for mates during the rutting season. > See More
Few visitors to the Sierra Nevada will casually stumble across bighorn sheep, which inhabit the rocky high country of the Sierra Nevada. Their agility and sure-footedness are sure to astound, however, as you glimpse them leaping along mountainsides and effortlessly scaling vertiginous cliffs. Like mule deer, bighorn sheep rut dramatically in autumn. As temperatures cool further and winter approaches, bighorn sheep migrate down from Tioga Pass to lower elevations on the east side of the Sierra Nevada range. An endangered species, they are threatened not only from predation by mountain lions, but also from the loss of their natural habitat. Seeing one in the wild is a special gift. > See More
Look skyward in Yosemite Valley and you may just catch sight of a peregrine falcon doing incredible dives as it hunts its prey. Making a comeback from the brink of extinction, these raptors now nest in Yosemite’s plentiful granite walls and domes. If you listen at night, you may hear the call of a great gray owl reverberating through the forests at higher elevations, where you’ll also hear the noisy hoots of male blue grouse. And these are just a few of the many species that birders can check off their life lists here – and we’ll show you where. > See More
Originally, Yosemite’s high-elevation lakes contained no fish, which allowed frogs to become abundant. These lakes used to be home to thousands of Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frogs. But, after game species of fish such as trout were introduced, yellow-bellied frog populations declined as tadpoles were predated upon by non-native fish. > See More
Mountain lions once had a bounty on their head in California. Today they are protected by both state and national park laws. Although mountain lions have an incredible range, and are found at almost every elevation in the park, you’re unlikely to see one. One reason is because these cats are most active at night. > See More
Yosemite has over a dozen species of slithering snakes, but don’t worry. Only the western (diamondback) rattlesnake is venomous. The park’s other snakes are harmless, although some visitors mistake the orange, black and white stripes of the mountain king snake for a venomous coral snake, which it is not. Garter snakes and rubber boas are also common in the park. > See More
The most common wildlife you’ll encounter during your Yosemite trip are members of the rodent family, which includes squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, and mice. Of Yosemite’s four species of squirrels, the Western gray squirrel is the easiest to recognize, with its big, bushy tail. > See More
You can deepen your park experience by learning more about Yosemite’s unique flora and fauna, from giant sequoia trees and black bears to the smallest mountain frogs and colorful wildflowers. Here are just a few of our trustworthy favorite field guides to carry with you in the car and on the trail as you explore Yosemite’s natural grandeur. > See More
Great Gear for Wildlife Watching from Celestron
Celestron’s Nature DX 8×32 binoculars are the perfect companion for your next outdoor adventure. A great first step into the world of serious sport optics, the views through Nature DX rival those of more expensive binoculars, at a price to fit your budget.
View the natural world up close with the COSMOS Tree of Life 10×42 Binocular by Celestron, inspired by COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY. Designed for optimum views of wildlife and landscapes, Tree of Life Binoculars feature phase-coated BaK-4 prisms and fully multi-coated optics for great image detail.
If you’re looking for a dual-purpose telescope appropriate for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, then the AstroMaster Series is for you. Take AstroMaster out under the stars during your next camping trip for bright, clear images of the Moon, the rings of Saturn, moons of Jupiter, and so much more.
The easy-to-use LandScout spotting scope is perfect for any outdoor activity. The compact, lightweight design is ideal for carrying with you on a backpacking trip or hiking excursion. You’ll be able to quickly set up this spotting scope and use the 10-30x zoom to get in close to the action.