Rocky Mountain National Park has a lot to offer visitors, snow-capped mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, babbling brooks, colorful wildflowers, and lots of wildlife. Home to thousands of elk, mule deer, moose, and many other animals, it is very common to come across some sort of wildlife while exploring this beautiful park.
When planning your vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park use our “wild about wildlife” guide to all the wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park and for a convenient location to the park, stay at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn to complete your vacation.
Rocky Mountain Elk
The most prevalent and the most sought out animal to encounter is the elk. These large animals are best found in lower valleys throughout the park during the fall, winter and spring months. They are most active in the fall during “the rut” season, where herds gather to mate. It is also not uncommon to see elk roaming the streets of Estes Park, so always keep your eye out when out and about in town!
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
With no fear of heights, bighorn sheep climb steep mountain terrain. Weighing up to 250 pounds, it can be quite an impressive site to see two male rams battling it out over a cliffside. The best spots in the park to catch a glimpse of these animals is at Sheep Lake and Bighorn Mountain when they make their way down to mate and graze for food.
With a male getting up to 1,500 pounds, moose are the largest member of the deer family. Their long legs and large antlers that rest atop their heads, make them easy to spot. Typically, moose are found along the East Inlet and Onahu Trails, in Big Meadows and the Kawuneeche Valley.
Though not often spotted, mountain lions are one to watch out for. Stalking their prey, like mule deer, they are often very quiet and elusive, so as not to startle their target. If you do happen to spot a mountain lion do not try to run. Instead, stand tall and appear as large as you can to try and scare it away.
Even with a small population in the park, the black bear is not uncommon to be seen by hikers and campers. During the spring, they emerge from winter’s hibernation to feast on shrubs and new ground growth in the forest. In the summer and fall they head to cooler climates within the alpine and when winter comes they escape the cold and hibernate until spring. Bears have been known to encounter campsites and snack on whatever food is laying out, so always be sure to keep your food in a secure container and out of reach.
Rocky Mountain Marmots
Found mostly above 10,000 feet, marmots are the park’s furry little friend that you can find scurrying around collecting food and chirping at the top of their lungs. Typically, you can find them sun-bathing on a rock or exploring the open tundra.
Note: With all wildlife, be sure to view at a safe distance and do not attempt to feed or pet them. They are wild animals and can be unpredictable. For further tips visit RockyMountainNationalPark.com.
Stay near Rocky Mountain National Park at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn