Western sword fern
Plants

Fern Canyon

At A Glance

  • Location: Lost Forest
  • Look carefully on the right side of the San Diego Zoo's Flamingo Lagoon, and you'll see a shady path just beyond the bus loading area. Look for the inviting shade on your right and follow the steps down into Fern Canyon, a peaceful rain forest refuge that's perfect for a meandering stroll.

    In upper Fern Canyon, be sure to look in the treetops to see bromeliads, orchids, and staghorns in the branches. As you follow the pathway down, you'll be surrounded by lush green ferns of all sizes under a lacy canopy of purple-flowering jacarandas. Intertwined giant Burmese honeysuckle and Easter lily vines, Formosa palms, and other magnificent flora grow near the path and on the banks of the canyon's winding stream.

    As you might guess from its name, Fern Canyon is a fern fancier's paradise, with ferns ranging from small sword ferns to 40-foot-high (12-meter) tree ferns. Some of the first plants to evolve, ferns reproduce with spores rather than seeds (flowering plants came along much later in plant evolution). When you meander down Fern Canyon's lovely path, shaded by giant, primeval-looking tree ferns, you can imagine that you've gone back to the era of dinosaurs and carboniferous swamps. Hardy and adaptable, fern species have propagated almost everywhere since those prehistoric times, even in the Arctic!

    During springtime and summer, Fern Canyon displays a sublime canopy of purple and yellow lace with red highlights, thanks to the blooming of its yellow Schizolobium parahybumand purple jacaranda trees Jacaranda mimosifolia, and the Australian flame trees Brachychiton acerifolius out front. 

    koala with joey

    Australian Wildlife Relief

    Plush-crested Jay in the Zoo's Parker Aviary
    ZOONOOZ

    The Brainy Bunch

    Meet Some Smart Birds
    Mother polar bear with cub.
    ZOONOOZ

    Tracking Polar Bears...and More!

    Keeping Tabs in the Wild
    Masai giraffe
    GO BEHIND THE SCENES

    INSIDE LOOK TOURS

    Young brother and sister, mother and father wearing matching San Diego Zoo t-shirts.
    SHOPZOO

    ZOO FAMILY APPAREL

    Hotel with pool
    Creature Comforts

    PREFERRED HOTELS