THE CUTEST ANIMAL IN EVERY NATIONAL PARK: Petrified Forest to Zion

You and I, we’ve been through a lot together. From jokes about goat beards to bobcat butts, picking the cutest animal in every national park has been a journey. So, without further adieu, I give you the final part in my epic, world altering series THE CUTEST ANIMAL IN EVERY NATIONAL PARK, PETRIFIED FOREST TO ZION.

Oh, and be sure to click here or here to catch up on parts 1 and 2.


A quick reminder about how all this works: Any day now I have a quick story running on Backpacker‘s website: THE TOP TEN CUTEST ANIMALS IN OUR NATIONAL PARKS.

This is a dangerous task. If I screw the list up the internet will basically destroy me, so I decided to first choose the cutest animal in every national park using the following rules:

1.) Smaller is cuter.

2.) Fatter is cuter.

3.) Fluffier is cuter.

4.) The animal must be native.

5.) NO SNAKES. Snakes are not cute.

6.) In the end, the list is completely arbitrary.

Since I don’t want to spoil the final TOP 10 list, I’ve marked those that made final selection as REDACTED. You’ll have just have to read the article when it comes out some time in June (which I’ll link to HERE and on the Lesser Places homepage).


Petrified Forest: Botta’s Pocket Gopher

Image Credit: LeonardoWeiss, Wikimedia

Are those tasty, tasty seeds in your cheek pouches or are you just happy to see me?


Pinnacles: American Badger

Image Credit: Johnathunder, Wikimedia

Cute is probably not the first word to come to mind when you think badger. After looking at this picture though, maybe it should be.


Redwood: Northern Saw-whet Owl

Image Credit: National Parks Service

“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. Devil.”


Rocky Mountain: REDACTED


Saguaro: White Nosed Coati

Image Credit: Linda de Volder, Wikimedia

Apparently coati’s can be domesticated, which raises a serious question: WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A COATI TO CUDDLE WITH?


Sequoia: Bighorn Sheep

Image Credit: Philipp Haupt, Wikimedia

“Don’t mind me, I’m just a baby lamb getting ready to pick you a flower.”


Shenandoah: White-tailed Deer

Image Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Yes, real life Bambi is cuter than animated Bambi.


Theodore Roosevelt: Coyote Image Credit: National Parks Service

Someone needs to cheer up this coyote STAT.


Virgin Islands: Bottlenose Dolphin

Image Credit: Claudia14, Pixabay

Fun Fact: Dolphins never stop smiling.


Voyagers: Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel

Image Credit: Phil Myers, wikimedia

Guess how many lines it has?


Wind Cave: Black-Footed Ferret

Image Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prarie, Flickr
Image Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prarie, Flickr

Okay, it gets demerits for eating other members of this list, BUT JUST LOOK AT THEM ALL TRY TO FIT IN THAT TINY HOLE while they get ready to help with an amazing population recovery.


Wrangell-St. Elias: REDACTED


Yellowstone: Bison

Image Credit: Yellowstone National Park, Flickr
Image Credit: Yellowstone National Park, Flickr

In a few years this calf will be a mass of hulking power; for now though, it just wants to be loved.


Yosemite: REDACTED


Zion: Least ChipmunkImage Credit: Phil Armitage, wikimedia

What is cuter than a regular chipmunk? The least chipmunk, obviously.


And that’s it! Thanks to everyone who has checked out this series. All the positive feedback has been amazing. Keep an eye out HERE and on the Lesser Places homepage for a link to the final Top 10 list when it posts on backpacker.com.


Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on. 

2 thoughts on “THE CUTEST ANIMAL IN EVERY NATIONAL PARK: Petrified Forest to Zion

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