While you drift through the last remnants of Glen Canyon – what many call “the most spectacular canyon on earth” – paddle quietly and listen for the screech of a diving Peregrine falcon, the whinny of a wild horse or the barely audible click of desert bighorn sheep’s hooves on a sheer rock wall on your right side as your move down river. Use binoculars to look for bighorn sheep in every nook and cranny. Rams (males) have large curved horns, while females (ewes) have short horns with only slight curvature. They are the largest native animal in the park, with rams weighing up to 250 pounds.
Wild horses can best be seen in the grassy areas adjacent to beaches on the left hand bank as you head downstream. Do not attempt to ride one or take one home for the kids. They are faster and kick much harder than you.
You will not encounter any whitewater or rapids on your Horseshoe Bend river float. It is all flat, soft water, perfect for the beginner, a family outing or as an adjunct to bird watching. With the large open water habitat of Lake Powell and the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) is highly diverse with 315 documented bird species. This diversity can be attributed to the colonization of Lake Powell by aquatic birds, augmented by the presence of the Colorado River, which is most likely a migration corridor for aquatic and riparian birds.
King of the birds is the California condor. The California condor is one of the world’s largest and rarest birds, with a wingspan of 9 to 10 feet and weight of up to about 25 pounds. The condor is closely related to the turkey vulture and Andean condor. There are an estimated 300 wild condors on your kayak river route from the base of Glen Canyon Dam, through Horseshoe Bend to the Lees Ferry boat ramp, so your chances of seeing one or more are very good. Just stop paddling and look up at the 1,000 foot cliffs on your right every few minutes.