First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is 1,200 square miles of beauty. From meadows to valleys to ancient sequoias, it’s one of California’s most popular attractions.

While exploring the park, you might run into some of the park’s native wildlife. Yosemite is home to more than 400 species, including mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Some animals will be more intimidating than others, but the rule of thumb is that if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

Here are a few unique animals you might see during a hike at Yosemite National Park.

Mule Deer

If you’re hiking in Yosemite, there’s a good chance you’ll see a mule deer. These are the only deer native to the park. It’s important to remember that you should not feed the deer. Park rangers explain that human food can be harmful to the deer.

Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep

You will only see the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep if you’re hiking in higher elevations, and even then they can be hard to spot. The sheep are the only species in Yosemite that are on the endangered species list.

Coyote

Coyotes can be found almost anywhere in the park. They are naturally shy and tend to avoid humans, but you might catch a glimpse or hear them communicating with each other by howling.

American Black Bear

There are 300-500 black bears in the park, and many hikers yearn to catch a glimpse at these fascinating creatures. If you see a bear while hiking, don’t approach it. Black bears rarely bother humans, but they can be protective when guarding cubs or food.

Reptiles

Yosemite is home to 22 different reptilian species, including lizards, Western pond turtles and 13 species of snakes. To protect yourself from the park’s snakes, be vigilant while on your hikes and avoid putting your hands in holes. All the park’s reptiles are important to the ecosystem, so you should never intentionally cause harm to any of them.

Birds

Because 262 species of birds have been documented in Yosemite, it is a popular spot for birdwatchers and photographers. One of the more unique species is the great gray owl, which is genetically different in California than it is outside the state.
If you watch the meadows in the park, you will have the best chance of seeing some wildlife because that’s where many of the animals go to feed. Regardless of where your journey in Yosemite takes you, there’s a good chance you’ll see some amazing creatures in their natural habitat.