There is no other sight that defines Rocky Mountain National Park more than an Elk surrounded by towering peaks. Reintroduced into the Park in 1913 after becoming nearly wiped out by hunters, Elk now total over 2,500. Highly visible, and known mostly for their loud bugle during mating season, it’s not uncommon to see Elk throughout the Park. During summertime Elk typically head to the high country and can be seen while traversing open tundra. In September, Bull Elk descend into lowery-lying valleys and bugle for potential mates to come and join their harem. The herds can be viewed from a number of easily accessed roads, enabling visitors multiple prime locations to spot and enjoy the park’s largest mammal in their natural habitat. For some of the best viewing spots check out Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, and Kawuneeche Valley.
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A favorite among young children and adults, Big Horn Sheep defy all odds by scurrying up and hanging out on vertical cliffs humans need ropes to ascend. Nearly extinct during the early 1900′s, (hunters prized their horns) these tuff little guys have made a comeback within the Park, totaling now as much as 600. Even thought it can be tough to see them, plan on setting up your cameras during summer months as they make their way down from the high country to graze. Best spots are Sheep Lake and Bighorn Mountain. (Yeah we know, real original names…)
Breathe easy, there are no grizzly bears inside the park, but there are Black Bears, which at times can be just as pesky. Usually invisible, Black Bears tend to hang around campsites and designated wilderness campgrounds in search of a quick meal. Just like Black Bears in Yosemite, it’s important to view them from a distance and not startle the bear. The good news is bear attacks are quite rare and you’re more likely to get struck by lightning then have an altercation with a bear. > See More
Designated as a Global Important Bird Area, the Park hosts over 280 species including the Blue Grouse, Tree-toed Woodpecker and Northern Pygmy Owl. Birders primarily flock to Rocky Mountain National Park, due to the large population of high-elevation species residing throughout the Park. Some of the best stops to view are in Moraine Park, Wild Basin and along Trail Ridge Road. > See More
Not just a clothing line, Marmots scurry around the Park snagging food, chirping loudly, and usually looking pretty cuddly. Found primarily above 10,000 feet, Marmots play a key role in the tundra’s ecosystem. Look for them to be sunning on a rock or taking a nap in open tundra. Small mammals known as Picas also reside in the high country, but are typically a bit harder to spot. > See More
One thing is for certain: they aren’t the most eloquent creatures, but they sure are cool. Standing over 6 feet tall and weighing between 600 and 1,600 lbs., moose are a common sight within Rocky Mountain National Park, and routinely a visitor favorite. Found primarily in the Kawuneeche Valley east of the Continental Divide, moose were first introduced to the area in 1978 when placed west of the Never Summer Mountains. Since the original placement the moose have thrived and now it is estimated they total over 700 strong. > See More
There is really no better way to describe a mule deer than by saying Mickey Mouse meets a deer. No seriously it’s not a stretch. Their large oversized ears stick out several inches above their head and can best be associated with the ears of a mule. One of the Park’s more highly visible large mammals, it’s not uncommon to spot mule deer quietly grazing through Moraine Park and along Glacier Gorge.
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