Zion National Park is home to diverse habitats within its 232 square miles that span elevations between 3,666 and 8,726 feet. There are five main habitat areas in the park: evergreen woodlands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, riparian woodlands, desert areas, and water areas. These habitats are home to over 1,000 plant species, 78 mammal species, 30 reptile species, and more.

Over 291 species of birds have been found in Zion’s diverse habitats at different elevations. The number of birds found in the park varies seasonally. Many species are migratory and not found in Zion year-round. The Zion Bird Checklist provides more information about how common it is to find each species in the park during every season.

Evergreen Woodlands

Evergreen Woodlands are found in the high country of Zion National Park. They include ponderosa pine, white fir, Douglas fir, and quaking aspen trees. These areas are generally found on the west side of the park along the Kolob Terrace Road. Many bird species live in this habitat in the warmer months. However, the bird population in this habitat becomes sparse in the winter.

Zion High Plateau Forest
View from Lava Point
Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands

Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands occur between 5,000 - 7,000 feet in elevation. The steep and rocky slopes in these areas form the transition zone between floodplains and the sandstone cliffs. The area is defined by high temperatures and low relative humidity. Juniper and pine trees survive with shallow but extensive root systems that become covered with pine needles that help reduce evaporation. The woodlands also include a significant shrub population. Many birds breed and forage in these areas as trees and shrubs provide nesting material, hiding cover, and year-round food, including leaves, berries, and nuts.

Angels Landing View Zion National Park
Zion Nationa Park East Side Wilderness
Slick Rock on High Plateau Zion National Park
Riparian Woodlands

Riparian Woodlands are found between the river and the land. The Zion Canyon floor is largely composed of riparian woodlands within the transition zone between the Virgin River and upper terrace lands within the park. Cottonwoods grow quickly in these areas after flooding and create oasis spots for many bird species. This habitat provides a much-needed respite for migratory birds who pass through the park, and it is a critical habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.

Virgin River Zion National Park

Low desert ecosystems are found below 4,200 feet. The small section of the park that encompasses this ecosystem receives around 14 - 15 inches of annual precipitation. The Watchman Trail, near the visitor center, is an example of desert habitat. Plant species include creosote bush, blackbrush, and salt bush. Birds common to this habitat are the greater roadrunner, black-throated sparrow, and black-chinned sparrow.

Birds that live in the desert are adapted to high temperatures. They are most active around dawn, when it is cooler, and tend to perch in shady areas. In order to dissipate heat, birds can use a process called Gular fluttering, which is the rapid flapping of membranes in the throat to increase evaporation. Additionally, feathers can help insulate birds from the heat of the sun, and the birds can often obtain all of the moisture that they need from their food.

View from Zion Human History Museum
View from Watchman Trail
Water Areas

The Virgin River and its tributaries provide the main source of water habitats in Zion National Park. The river creates small ponds in lowland areas, where migratory birds can often be found. While few birds nest in water areas, the presence of water, plants and animals provides a year-round home for numerous species.


Zion Waterfall
Beartrap Falls Zion National Park