Our Encounter With the Rare Kaibab Squirrel of the Grand Canyon

We were staying in two cabins on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in late July 2004. The canyon's beauty is incredible. My wife and I arose early in the morning, before the teens were up. We decided to go for a walk to a nearby campground about 1 ½ miles along the rim from our cabin. We had a very nice walk in the morning sunlight through the ponderosa pine woods, with occasional breathtaking views of the canyon across the sheer dropoffs nearby.

Our Morning Stroll and What We Met

We got to the campground about 8 am. My wife had to use a facility there. As I waited for her to emerge from the building, I saw a woman walking with a camera pointed at a rare Kaibab squirrel who was visiting the campground. I turned on my Olympus C-5050 and began to walk slowly in the squirrel's direction, wishing briefly that I had a better telephoto lens.

The Squirrel Had A Mission

To my surprise, the squirrel, rather than continuing to walk away from us, seemed to ignore us as it made a sharp right turn across the rocky soil and ran up to a picnic table, where it seized something that no Kaibab wild resident normally has in its diet—a BANANA left by the residents of a nearby tent!

The squirrel then ran up a nearby ponderosa pine – Maryruth arrived about that time and saw the animal too!

And there the Kaibab squirrel sat calmly, 4 meters above our heads, and began to chew into the banana with gusto.

We'd heard stories of the rarity of encounters with the Kaibab “ghost squirrel” with its black and gray body and feathery white tail, but this one seemed to be taking advantage of tourism to supplement its pine nuts diet with some choice fresh fruit.