In 7 years of visiting the back country of the desert southwest there are only two locations we’ve found that have a sizable population of Collared Lizards. The Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, and the beautiful Red Rock country of Sedona Arizona. And by sizable population I mean enough around to show up on the trails people regularly wander.
In 2006 while visiting the Painted Hand Ruins site several collared lizards were restfully enjoying sunning themselves while our party photographed the ruins. The lizards didn’t mind a few people around, and at times it seemed like they were posing for the lens.
2008’s trips into Sedona from Prescott also yielded several collared lizard sightings. The trail up to Devil’s Bridge, and the trail to Doe Mesa seemed to be popular spots for these cold blooded critters.
Beyond the Four Corners area and Sedona, in our experience these little lizards don’t show up too often elsewhere. Most likely these areas have dense populations because of great conditions for their survival. Interestingly enough, they’re known to also live in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. They are the official state lizard for Oklahoma, which is a little different from the 4 Corners Region to be sure.
If you’re looking to meet up with your own Collared Lizard I’d strongly suggest paying a visit to either area. You’ll want to be out on a warmer day, and you need to keep your eyes scanning comfortable rocks where they sun themselves. Be sure to have a “long lens” with you. In the case of the photos in this article I was using a 70-200mm lens, and all shots were at 200mm.
For more information on visiting the Canyon of the Ancients check out our full piece on Hovenweep & Canyon of the Ancients here.