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Wildlife Watching

One of the many wonderful things about Estes Park is the abundance of wildlife you can see in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) as well as the wildlife that makes its way into the town limits. 

From chipmunks to mountain lions, there’s a plethora of mammals to see and photograph during your vacation, as well as birds, reptiles, and butterflies. Many of our guests enjoy seeing our bigger wildlife, sometimes from the comfort of their own cabin! It’s not hard to spot one of RMNP’s 3,000 elk, especially in the fall and spring for the mating and calving seasons.

As you roam around RMNP, be on the lookout for the big horn sheep that like to climb on the rock faces. You’ll need to focus if you want to spot any bobcats or mountain lions, as these cats are stealthy and know how to stay hidden.

You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for a moose sighting! Our moose are often found on the western side of the park or along Fall River Road. We’ve recently seen moose coming into town more frequently, so you might be lucky with a downtown Estes Park moose sighting.

Our smaller critters are more prone to be near humans while on the hunt for food. Please do not feed the wildlife as it’s both unhealthy for the animal and illegal for you. You’ll most likely see chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits throughout the RMNP trails and picnic areas. For a critter spotting you might not typically find close to home, hike up above the tree line and watch for marmots and pikas.

H2: Safety Tips for Watching Wildlife

  • Do not touch or feed the wildlife.
  • Keep a safe viewing distance and watch the animal’s behavior, as some are prone to become aggressive if you get too close.
  • Use your signals and pull over to the side of the road if you spot wildlife when driving. Stopping abruptly could cause an accident or disturb the animals.
  • Pets are allowed in RMNP, but they are not allowed on trails or in the backcountry. Keep your pets in your car if you want to look at the wildlife.
  • Always obey all posted signs and rules of the park.

Learn more about the wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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