Wild about wildlife
It’s no secret that Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular place, but it’s also a popular home to a wide variety of wildlife. From ones that take to the skies to ones that take up a lot of space, visitors of all ages are always delighted to spot some form of wildlife in the park or in downtown Estes Park!
From frogs to snakes, the park has a few species of amphibians and reptiles. The park’s boreal toad population is at risk and has been on the endangered species of Colorado list since 1993. You could also have sightings of salamanders, lizards, or garter snakes.
Did you know that about 300 species of birds either live in or migrate over the Estes Valley? In fact, in 2000, Rocky Mountain National Park was designated as a Global Import Bird Area because of the diverse species of birds and habitats that are in Rocky Mountain National Park. You might see hummingbirds, wild turkeys, or owls within the park or overhead.
The park is home to 141 species of butterfly that were inventoried by volunteers from 1995 to 2011. The park’s diversity of habitat is to credit for the wide range of butterflies that are here. Please note that you must have a permit to carry a butterfly net into any national park.
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to 11 species of fish, 7 native and four exotic. Since 1975, the park has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recover the populations of Greenback and Colorado River cutthroat trout. There are several areas in the park open for fishing and catch and release fishing. To fish in the park you must have a valid Colorado fishing license and can only use one hand-held rod or line.
You’d have to try to not see wildlife during your stay with us, especially with our 67 species of mammals calling Estes Park home! We’ve got beavers, black bears, elk, yellow-bellied marmots, moose, mountain lions, and chipmunks among others!
In the fall, Estes Park is home to the elk rut and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy hosts elk expedition tours to learn more about this ritual and hear the iconic bugles. This is the time for elk and bulls to join harems and find a mate. Rocky Mountain National Park has an elk herd that ranges from 600 – 800 elk in the winter, so your chances of spotting at least one are pretty good! The park is also home to about 350 bighorn sheep.
In the winter, you’ll still be able to make some sightings of coyotes and pikas and elk will make their descent back into town after feeding on the tundra plants in the warmer months.
For a full list of wildlife and species in Rocky Mountain National Park, visit the National Park Species database site.
When wildlife watching, please remember to keep a safe distance as they are wild animals and that females with young ones could become aggressive if they feel threatened. Cameras and binoculars are excellent ways to get close-up views of our animals without endangering yourself or the animal. You’ll often be able to tell if there’s a large gathering of animals, such as elk or deer, when driving through the park as you’ll see a ton of cars pulled off to the side of the road. Please do not impede traffic by stopping in the road and safely pull off to the side for better viewing.
Don’t forget to visit during the fee-free days at Rocky Mountain National Park to save money on your next Rocky Mountain adventure or you can always book one of our specials to help save on your next vacation!