Photos and videos of an amazing few hours with several Desert Bighorn Sheep rams in the Atlatl Rock Campground in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
It was 6:30 a.m. this morning when I stepped out of our RV at the Atlatl Rock Campground to look around and perhaps take a walk. We had no definite plans.
I scanned the open desert behind our campsite and was surprised to see a Desert Bighorn ram less than 50 yards away.
When I asked at the information booth at the Visitors Center the other day, I was told "They are everywhere. Just keep your eyes open". Well, after two days in the park keeping our eyes open, we saw exactly zero sheep.
It's a thrill to see them at all, and then to see rams with full curved horns is even better.
I shouted to Linda, who was still sleeping, "There are Bighorn Sheep out here!".
I grabbed the camera and walked out slowly. Seconds later, I saw that there were eight rams that appeared to be of similar size and age.
The campers that noticed were grabbing cameras or binoculars.
They huddled up and just stood there looking at us.
Eventually, the other folks had their photos and went about their day. But I stayed and watched.
They moved a little and then just plopped down to rest.
In the photo below, you can see seven of the eight sets of horns.
Pulling back, they were difficult to see unless you knew they were there.
They didn't look like they were going anywhere, so I turned around and took some photos of our campsite and the campground.
I returned my attention to the rams. It was just me and them. Though they didn't seem to be bothered by me, I crouched down behind a bush and waited patiently.
Eventually, they started to get up one by one.
One came closer to me and stood there checking me out and looking around.
I took some video as he started walking past.
Then the rest started following, and I shot some more footage. Words like regal and majestic came to mind.
I snapped more photos as they went by me.
I thought they were going to proceed to the rocks and that would be the last we would see of them. Instead, they stopped, ate a little, and plopped down again.
Again, since they didn't seem to be going anywhere, I took photos of other distractions. This time it was the little ground squirrels zooming around. These are White-tailed Antelope Squirrels and they really are everywhere.
I returned to the sheep a little later, and they were just starting to get up.
They huddled up again, and then they started feeding.
I shot some more video and then left them alone.
I returned to our motorhome to get out of the 90-degree heat. And while sitting there, we saw the rams walking toward us. They did, in fact, walk right by our campsite.
We watched as they headed toward the red rocks right beside the campground.
We continued to watch and were surprised that they just sauntered over to the rocks and continued to forage and rest in the shade near two other campsites.
I continually peeked over just to see if they were still hanging around. As the sun got higher, they re-adjusted their positions to remain in the shade, but they were still close by.
Eventually, I walked over and sat at a picnic table ... just to watch. All eight of the rams were there. You can see six in this picture (a couple are well hidden).
The other two are shown here with one tucked into a rock alcove.
I really enjoyed my alone-time with these magnificent animals.
After several minutes, I left and, once again, I thought that would be the end of today's wonderful encounter. But, there was more.
In the RV, I looked out and saw them returning to feed in the exact place they were first thing this morning. And a little later, they once again walked right by our campsite.
But this time, they went behind the rocks as their earlier resting place was now in complete sun. Again, I thought that would be the end of our sightings.
Later, I took a walk around the campground, and then strolled around to the other side of the rocks. Sure enough, they were still there.
Most of them were eating again, but one ram hung out on the rocks and we spent some time together.
The Bighorns spent about five or six hours within a hundred yards of our campsite. It was absolutely amazing, and we feel so fortunate to have been able to spend so much time in their presence.
What a morning.