Gorgeous Colorado State Parks: See Wildlife

Gorgeous Colorado State Parks: See Wildlife

Colorado State Parks that should be on your bucket list.

The Colorado State Parks system boasts over forty different parks, spanning from the Great Plains to the rolling foothills, and high mountain peaks. However if wildlife sightings are your goal, there are three places you simply can’t miss.

1.) Rocky Mountain National Park

Perhaps the one of the most famous parks in the state, the Rocky Mountain National Park is a huge reserve encompassing swaths of evergreen forest, alpine tundra, and some of the tallest mountains in the lower forty-eight. With so many different eco systems, the odds are good to find all sorts of wildlife.

In lower elevations, look for the riparian (wetland) areas. These life giving creeks and lakes support dense ecosystems of different fish, toads, salamanders and more. It’s easy to conduct your entire wildlife tour here. The park covers over 400 square miles!

Area Spotlight!

The Rocky Mountain National Park is perhaps best known for the bugling of the elk. In the fall, these majestic animals descend from their alpine homes, searching for mates. In order to signal the season for love, male elk make great “roars” that echo hauntingly off the surrounding mountain sides.

Make a trip to Estes Park (in the Moraine or Horseshoe sections) and seize the chance to hear these otherworldly calls. We cannot recommend it enough!

2.) Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Want to try something different? Check out one of the largest urban refuges in the country (yes, we really mean urban). The park has an extensive visitor center, which offers wildlife tours and nature programs, as well as great orientation information for the site.

Area Spotlight!

For the past 14 years, a pair of endangered bald eagles has made their home by one of the lakes. In fact, it was the first sighting of our national bird that prompted the transition to a national wildlife refuge! Accompanying the eagles are more than 280 more species of birds. Be sure to bring your binoculars and telephoto lenses!

3.) Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Nestled at the feet of the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this park looks as if some great being stole a bit of the Gobi Desert and dropped it in the middle of Colorado. However, unlike a barren desert, this park is teaming with life. Everything from the chubby American pika to the slinky mountain lion can be found in the park (though some are more easily spotted than others).

Area Spotlight!

For the photographers out there looking to shoot stunning backgrounds in their wildlife photos, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is fairly covered with them. There are five gorgeous alpine lakes, a multitude of sub alpine meadows littered with wildflowers and, of course, the iconic windswept sands of the dunes.

This list could surely be longer! Know any other fantastic parks to find wildlife? Want to add on to what’s here? Just say hi? Leave a comment! We always love to hear your feed back!

Wildlife Tourism Spotlight: Moose in Colorado

Wildlife Tourism Spotlight: Moose in Colorado

What You Can See, Where To Start, When To Go, and How To Stay Safe and Respectful.

One of Colorado’s most magnificent mountain mammals, the north-western moose is an integral part of any wildlife tour. One look, and it’s easy to see why:

Resident moose of the Rocky Mountains have been reported to stand over seven feet tall at the shoulder, with their head and antlers adding up to another two feet (which makes one wonder how on earth this happened). Their gorgeous chestnut brown coats are prized for their iconic fluffy locks. Both lady and gentleman moose have small skin sacks known as bells hanging from their necks.

A Moose by Any Other Name:

In fact, all moose on the planet belong to the same species. However what separates the north-western moose from its Alaskan and Russian cousins are the behavioral adaptations they have evolved to survive their mountainous habitat. Lucky for moose seekers, the Rocky Mountains’ unique habitat allows for a comparatively dense population.

Making the Moose out of Life:

Contrary to the herd habits of most other species of deer, a moose’s life tends to be one of solitary wandering. This applies to both males and females, with one important exception. Moose-mamas are some of the best around. They are fiercely protective of their calves , and look after them until the babies are over a year old.

These animals are big eaters, up to 60 pounds a day! Thankfully for us weak humans, moose are exclusively herbivores. They’re favorite foods include willow, aspen and aquatic plants; unsurprisingly, moose are great swimmers.

Where’s The Wildlife User Tip!: Moose have been known to revisit their favorite grazing grounds. Check your Where’s the Wildlife app to find these areas near you, or to add your own!

Moose with antlers

Oh Where Oh Where Could They Be?

To help start your search, the National Park Service has a few tips to help find moose hangouts. Users of Where’s the Wildlife have exclusive access to recent sightings and directions to get to them!

Riparian Areas: Due to their taste for aquatic vegetation, moose can often be found near rivers, lakes and streams, especially with stands of willow or aspen!
Highway 34 in the Kawuneeche Valley
• The east side of the Rocky Mountain National Forest

Moose live in self-established “home ranges,” usually staying close to their place of birth. Thanks to Colorado’s natural abundance, resident moose of the Rocky Mountains hold territories ranging between five and forty square kilometers. A moose will stay in its ancestral home its entire life so long as there is enough food to eat and mates to find (and not too many human dangers).

When Should I go?

Moose can be found at all times of year in Colorado. But there a few times of year that deserve special mention: The mating and calving seasons.

These incredible events for moose viewing are also some of the most DANGEROUS. Bull moose can act unpredictably around females during mating season. Mother moose are also extremely protective of their calves. Where is the Wildlife aims to create a safe environment for humans and wildlife alike. Please read our Code of Conduct to ensure an enriching experience for all species involved.

The Mating Season:
The mating season begins around late September and runs through the end of October. During these months, bull moose call to their lady friends with distinct low grunting sounds. But when rival males show up instead, bull moose “spar” with one another, using their antlers to butt heads and prove their “mooslieness” to the females.

The Calving Season:
Calves are born about eight months after the mating season (May – July). These little guys are an absolute treat to find. Usually a moose mother gives birth to only one small charge, but in particularly abundant areas, twins and even triplets have been reported!

Tips to Stay Safe Around Moose

If You Give a Moose a Muffin…

…you’re probably too close.

Moose are incredible residents of the ecological landscape. Anyone able to catch a glimpse of one can see a bit of the raw magnificence our earth is blessed with. However, in order to protect both the wildlife and their human admirers, please respect the following rules:

Moose-vehicle collisions are particularly dangerous to both moose and drivers. Remember to keep an eye out for wildlife crossing signs, reduce your speed and watch for these unpredictable mammals.
• Do NOT approach Mama Moose and her babies! Though usually non-aggressive, they will react much more dangerously if concerned about their calves. This is a great chance to test out your camera zoom!
• If a moose has its head down with ears back, or shows other signs of stress, it’s time to back up.
• Moose WILL charge if they feel themselves or young threatened. Luckily, they don’t really want to fight you either, and will often pull back in a bluff. DON’T wait to find out. Move back and try to get behind something solid, like your vehicle or a tree.

Have any amazing/inspiring/funny moose stories? Please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear them!

Enjoy discovering your wildlife adventure!