Animals In Yosemite – What To Watch For In This California Park

wildlife in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a protected wilderness area in central California. This outdoor paradise welcomes millions of tourists from all different parts of the world every year.

The park is home to amazing waterfalls, mountain cliffs, rivers, and lakes. An outdoor haven, Yosemite National Park is one of California’s shining stars. 

When visiting Yosemite, one of the most popular questions we get is about the wild animals in Yosemite.

There is quite a range of wildlife species found throughout the park ranging from apex predators to microscopic insect larvae. 

To answer the question: are there any animals in Yosemite National Park, YES!

US national parks are known as being large refuge areas for many native species.

Yosemite is no different with 750,000 acres of protected land, the park is home to many different animals.

In fact, Yosemite is home to over 400 different species. The many different animals at Yosemite National Park make the park that much more enticing to visit.

The Kind Of Animals Found In Yosemite

1. Bighorn Sheep

The mountains of Yosemite are home to an endangered species, the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

Hiking through the alpine areas of the park such as Glacier Peak give you your best chance of seeing these wild animals.

2. Deer

Throughout the Yosemite valley, you will see the park’s only resident deer population: mule deer.

These two-hoofed mammals can be seen throughout the park, grazing in meadows and sleeping in forests.

The best chance of seeing mule deer in Yosemite is at dusk when the deer move around to find food and water. 

Deer - Yosemite animals

3. Black Bears

There are between 300-500 black bears roaming the Yosemite wilderness. You may be surprised to hear that most of the black bears in Yosemite are actually brown in color.

The bears are typically shy and will avoid confrontation and bear attacks in Yosemite are rare. However, it is important to take proper precaution and avoid interaction with bears.

The large population of black bears makes it particularly important to properly store all human food safely when camping throughout the park.

Balck Bear Animal Yosemite Park

4. Bobcats And Mountain Lions

Some of the rarest animal species to see in Yosemite are the bobcat and mountain lion. Shy by nature, these wild cats work hard to stay unnoticed by humans.

While the chance of interaction with these animals is rare, it is important to keep a safe distance away.

Bobcat Animals at Yosemite National Park

5. Cayotes

At nighttime, you are likely to hear howling throughout the park. You may be wondering, are there wolves in Yosemite National Park?

While there aren’t any wolves in the park, the howling comes from the many coyotes that call Yosemite home.

Despite frequent coyote hunting and trapping, these wild dogs are still found throughout the park.

Coyotes and wild cats are essential to the park ecosystem. These predators work to control the small animal and rodent population throughout the park.

These predatory animals typically avoid all contact with humans whenever possible, but you should still keep an eye out when hiking with your family.

6. Birds

Bird watchers come from all over to look at the many amazing bird species found throughout Yosemite.

Given the extreme altitude variances found in different areas of the park there are actually different species of birds found in different areas throughout the park.

This is a great place to bring some binoculars and spot the various bird species found throughout the park. More than 260 species of birds can be found in this American national park. 

7. Small Wildlife

As with any forest, there is quite a wide range of tiny creatures that can be found in the park.

From small field mice, curious chipmunks and hiding gophers, the park is full of small wildlife.

Gopher wildlife in Yosemite

8. Bats

Yosemite National Park is home to 17 different bat species. As the only flying mammal, bats are quite commonly found in the park.

Staying in the park past nightfall will have you seeing the various bats throughout the park.

Bats are a welcomed part of the park as they do well to help control the insect population in the park, especially in springtime.

Bats can be found in all areas of the park from the valley to the higher elevations.

9. Fish, Reptiles And Amphibian

The many lakes in Yosemite allow for many different fish, reptiles and amphibian species to flourish.

Many different species can be found in these areas, including:

  • Turtles
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Fish

Where Can You See Animals In Yosemite

Where you see these fascinating animals depends on which species you are looking to see. In warmer months, the wildlife at Yosemite National Park is at its peak.

Migratory birds return to the valley, bears awake from winter hibernation and deer flock the fields to eat spring flowers.

One of the best places to see animals in Yosemite is in the Yosemite valley meadows.

While a lack of tree coverage will deter many animals, especially in midday heat, it is a great area to spot brave Yosemite wildlife.

Deer graze throughout the meadows, coyotes stalk their prey and butterflies and birds span the large fields.

To be honest there is more wildlife in Yellowstone National Park versus Yosemite and the chance of spotting some are higher.

However, that should not deter you from visiting Yosemite!

Generally speaking, animals are most active in cooler parts of the day (around dawn and dusk).

Especially in summer months, extreme heats can reduce your chances of seeing animals as they take shelter from the sun.

Staying close to watering holes such as rivers and lakes will give you a higher chance of seeing animals.

Additional travel guides for wildlife: Wildlife Near Cancun, Mexico – Where can you see animals in their natural habitat?

What To Do If You Encounter Wildlife At Yosemite

While most tourists are excited by all the wildlife found throughout the park, it is important to stay safe. Human interaction with any animal is prohibited.

This means do not feed, touch or put any undue stress on the park’s animals.

If you encounter a large predatory animal, such as a black bear, the most important thing is to stay calm.

You want to work to avoid any interaction with the animal and to create as much distance between you and the animal as possible.

While wildlife sightings can be really exciting, it is important to be responsible. Remember, the best thing you can do for a wild animal is allow it to stay wild.

Avoid all interactions and simply observe the animal quietly from a distance.

Have you seen any of the animals on our list on your recent trip to Yosemite National Park? Talk to us about it in the comment section below. 

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Hi! We’re Rob and Taiss. We set off to live a life in as many places as possible. To actually live in locations around the world long enough to get to know the locals, the culture, and the food, not just a taste of it.
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