California Condors

Zion National Park

A Day to Remember

In 2019, after finishing an early morning hike to the summit of Angels Landing at Zion National Park, we decided to continue on by hiking the West Rim Trail above Scout Lookout away from Angels Landing. The West Rim Trail is an extensive route that runs from below Lava Point on Kolob Terrace to the Grotto shuttle stop in Zion Canyon. Our intention was to hike a couple of miles in from Scout Lookout.

Shortly after we reached the first summit above Scout Lookout, a large California Condor soared past us near the cliff’s edge. What a thrill, especially since we had our cameras in hand from shooting photos looking back at Angels Landing. With adrenaline at its peak from the excitement, we thought that was the end of it. However;  to our amazement, she came soaring right back and did so two or three more times. She was so close that we could easily see her wing tag bearing the number nine, which is how we learned that our condor was a she, and in fact, the mama condor of the chick that survived that year.

She eventually flew off in another direction, and we continued on our way feeling a bit exuberant from our encounter. This was the closest I’d ever been to a wild condor, which would soon be trumped!

Feathery Friend

About a mile in to the trail, just up ahead of us about 20-30 feet we saw what appeared to be a very large wingtip with feathers stretched out above a rock that hid the rest of the bird. We knew that in this region only two birds could have such large feathers; it had to be a condo or Golden Eagle. Could we be so lucky to spot a Golden Eagle this close the same day as our experience with a condor? Nope! It was the same condor. The tag gave her way immediately. She was quenching her thirst at a water pocket at the bottom of a side canyon. She didn’t seem overly disturbed that we were there as we kept our distance but were still within 20-30 feet of her. We quietly watched until she took off. WOW! Needless to say, this will be a day we’ll always look back on as one of the two best days, so far, at Zion. The other was earlier in the year shooting the largest waterfalls we’ve ever seen in the park. Here are a few photos of our day with mama condor.

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