Instructor: Andy Bridges
The high quality grassland, riparian, and badlands habitats in the Petrified Forest National Park support a large variety of plants and animals. Most of the animals are very secretive, and several are nocturnal. Only after the park closes and the roads are clear can you see many of the reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds that move, hunt, and breed after dark.
Join Petrified Forest NP Biologist Andy Bridges for a hands-on experience with reptiles and amphibians. Most of the snakes and a few of the lizards in the park are attracted to the paved road after the sun goes down. The road, which heats up all day, cools more slowly than the surrounding soil and air so these animals absorb heat to quicken their metabolism for hunting or digestion.
We will drive slowly down the 28 miles of the main park road starting at sunset, stopping to take data on each animal that we see, and then move those animals off the road. Animal activity is very dependent on weather and lunar cycles, so we go out rain or shine to see how different conditions affect animal behavior.
We also take time during these road surveys to enjoy the quiet darkness of the park and the beautiful night sky.
- Meet at 7:00 pm
- Finish no later than midnight
- $69 – Non-Member
- $60 – Member *Learn more at PFMA site
Maximum number of participants: 2
We meet at 7:00 pm and end when the survey is complete; never less than 3 hours – usually not more than 5 hours. It depends on the number of animals you’ll see. The survey consists of slowly riding in a truck along a road with many sudden starts, stops and swerves for animals. If you tend to get motion sickness, be sure to take appropriate measures!
Participants should bring/wear the following items:
- Water bottle (ice water will be provided)
- Comfortable clothing including a light jacket
- Rain is always possible, so have a rain jacket along
- Comfortable shoes, no open toes
- Snacks, if wanted
- Camera, if you want to take photos