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Nature
Nature

​A watchable wildlife viewing area, migratory birds, mule deer, river otters, bald eagles, a host of plant species and interesting geological elements await the nature explorer at Navajo State Park.

Wildlife

The natural wonders of Navajo State ParkThe Navajo State Park Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area is located next to the narrow gauge railroad bridge over the Piedra River near CO HWY 151. This accessible facility is an outstanding location to view wildlife of the park. View the outlying areas map.

Many migratory and resident birds are known for this area including several species of raptors, pinyon jay, black-billed magpie, common raven, and waterfowl and shorebirds which are attracted to the reservoir. Mule deer are a common sight, as are cottontail rabbit, coyote, red fox, porcupine, striped skunk and ground squirrel. Rare wildlife species present include the river otter, which has been reintroduced to the Piedra River, the bald eagle, and the white pelican, a summer resident. Anglers are attracted by the warm- and cold-water fishing opportunities, which include large-mouth and small-mouth bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, northern pike, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. 

Plant Communities

Ecologically, park uplands are dominated by pinyon-juniper woodland, sagebrush shrubland and western slope grassland communities. Short-statured pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees with an understory of shrubs and grasses comprise the pinyon-juniper woodland community, occupying dry slopes, hills and mesa tops. Common understory plant species include Gambel oak, big sagebrush, Indian ricegrass, western wheatgrass, galleta and blue grama. The sagebrush shrubland community is dominated by big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, Gambel oak and skunkbrush sumac. This shrub community occupies more mesic slopes and provides understory for the pinyon-juniper community.

Western slope grasslands support the sod-forming blue grama, galleta and western wheatgrass, and the bunchgrasses Indian ricegrass, needle-and-thread grass and Junegrass. Wetland, riparian and aquatic plant communities have become established around the reservoir, in the San Juan and Piedra river valleys above the reservoir and on ground water seeps.

Geological Features

Navajo State Park features a 15,000 surface-acre reservoir formed in the San Juan River Valley of southwestern Colorado. The San Juan River is joined by the Piedra River near the northern park boundary. Uplands within the park are characterized by flat-topped mesas and gently rolling hills, occasionally cut by steep-sided canyons. The uplands are Tertiary sedimentary rocks deposited during Eocene times, which are represented by sandstones and conglomerates of the San Jose and Blanco Basin formations and Telluride Conglomerate. Quaternary surficial deposits are present along both rivers as alluvium, terrace gravels and alluvial fan deposits.