Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife and Parks

Elk bugling in the fall, bighorn sheep lambing in the spring, coyotes howling, beavers building, and eagles soaring aloft - Rocky Mountain National Park is one of America's best places to see wildlife and birds.

Will you be sure to see bighorn sheep? Maybe not. But while looking for sheep you might catch sight of a coyote or a hawk. That's the adventure of watching animals in the wild instead of in a zoo.

Some of the best places for wildlife viewing in the Park are roadside pullouts in open areas.

  • Moraine Park and Horseshoe Park are two such areas where you will have a good chance, especially during the fall season.
  • Bighorn sheep visit natural mineral licks in Horseshoe Park, especially in May and June.
  • Moose live in the Kawuneeche Valley and frequent willow thickets along the Colorado River.
  • Coyotes, deer, and elk feed in all of the open meadows.
  • From Trail Ridge Road, look for elk, marmots, and birds on the tundra.

Elk, moose, and deer are most active at dawn and dusk. But bighorn sheep are active all day. So are marmots, squirrels, and chipmunks. Birds are easier to find in early morning. Beavers work mostly at night.

Ask a ranger about how to find animals. Check the calendar for ranger programs that focus on animals.

Wildlife Calendar

The best seasons to observe are fall, winter and spring. This is when many animals move to lower elevations, including town, for winter food and mating rituals.
September - October
Elk gather in low meadows and bulls bugle as they form harems of cows.
October - November
Mule deer bucks are in their prine as they search for does.
November - December
Bighorn rams challenge each other with head-butts that may be heard for a mile.
January - February
The rut is over; large groups of animals settle into the Estes valley to feed and wait for spring.
March - April
Herds feed in the greening lower valleys preparing to return to alpine meadows
May - June
Elk, moose, deer and bighorn sheep introduce their newborn calves, fawns and lambs to our Rocky Mountains.

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