Cliff chipmunks are small, bushy-tailed squirrels. They are brown on their underside and gray on the back with white stripes on their face. Their tails are black on top and cinnamon brown underneath. Females in this species are larger than males.
Cliff chipmunks live in the Western United States and Mexico. They range from Idaho south through Arizona and western New Mexico in the United States. In Mexico, their range extends from Sonora and western Chihuahua to northeastern Sinaloa and northwestern Durango. Cliff chipmunks typically live along cliff walls or boulder fields bordering Pinyon-juniper woodlands. They also inhabit montane forests of Ponderosa pine and spruce, oak woodlands, riparian vegetation, and desert shrublands. A common destination for spotting these chipmunks are the cliffs of the Grand Canyon.
Cliff chipmunks are generally solitary. They can be territorial around their dens and chase others. Females although can be gregarious, and form feeding groups. Around 10 chipmunks may gather at a food source, and slowly travel together while foraging, keeping a distance betwen individuals. In these aggregations, they may communicate vocally to identify themselves, or to maintain spacing. Cliff chipmunks are diurnal being active mostly during the day. They are very agile, and can often be seen scaling steep cliff walls. These small creatures like to take dust baths and groom their heads and tails. Cliff chipmunks live in dens and nests which they make in rocky bluffs and cliffs. Sometimes they can use underground burrows and tree nests. These chipmunks may migrate seasonally depending to availability of food.
Little is known about the mating habits of Cliff chipmunks. Breeding usually takes place in March. Females produce one litter per year, that consists of 4-6 young. The gestation period lasts around 4 weeks. Young spend their first days in the den with their mother, who nurses them, grooms, and protects. Young start eating solid foods at 36-40 days of age and become weaned at around 41-45 days after birth.
There are no major threats to Cliff chipmunks at present.
According to IUCN, the Cliff chipmunk is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Due to the habit of Cliff chipmunks to cache seeds, they play an important role as seed dispersals. They are also food for local predators.