Despite the freezing temperatures that might scare some away, outdoor and wildlife lovers and enthusiast know that winter offers a whole different world worthy of admiring. As the snow deepens in the high country, animals move to wintering grounds in lower elevations and valley bottoms. This provides a unique opportunity of contemplating astonishing wild animals near Denver. It’s easier than ever to spot larger mammals like moose, deer, and furbearers such as marten, ermine and perhaps a rare glimpse of bobcat or cougar. Birds also abound in this icy wonderland—jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and owls.
It may be tempting to lay around all day, staying warm inside during winter, but it could also be depressing. Stop being slothful and look come enjoy the outdoors and wildlife in Clear Creek County. So close to Denver and packed with opportunities and great winter outdoor activities.
For instance, the Rocky Mountains receive around three million visitors per year, looking for an opportunity to admire some of the 800 elks, 350 bighorn sheep, numerous mule deer or moose that wander around during winter. No wonder why Colorado is one of the U.S. wildlife watching top destinations.
What Animals to Look for in the Rockies
- Elk can be seen anytime. Look for elk in meadows and where meadow and forest meet. Favorite feeding times: dawn and dusk.
- Bighorn sheep are commonly seen at Sheep Lakes from May through mid-August.
- Moose frequent willow thickets along the Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley on the park’s west side.
- Otters were reintroduced into the Colorado River area and are doing fairly well. These animals are difficult to spot.
- Mule deer are common and can be seen anywhere. They are most often found at lower elevations in open areas.
- Bats feed over lakes and ponds at dawn and dusk.
- Marmots and pikas favor rocky areas. Marmots are best seen on the alpine tundra along Trail Ridge and Old Fall River roads. Pikas – small, light-colored mammals – are common in rock piles. Listen for their sharp, distinctive bark and watch for movement.
- Clark’s nutcrackers, Steller’s jays, golden eagles and prairie falcons can be seen along Trail Ridge Road.
- White-tailed ptarmigans, some of the most sought-after birds in Rocky Mountain National Park, are common, but difficult to spot. For best results, hike on the tundra and look carefully. Ptarmigans usually remain still, relying on their natural camouflage for protection.
- American dippers, or water ouzels, can be found along most streams. Listen for their loud call, similar to the rapid clicking of two stones together, as they fly up and down their territories.
Tips to remember while searching for wildlife
- Remember to respect wildlife. Don’t feed the animals and keep a safe distance. Winter is a stressful time for animals because of the cold temperatures and reduced food supplies.
- We also recommend to hike or book a tour with a professional guide. This way you’ll be reminded of the safety precautions and have better chances of a successful endeavor.
- Waste no more time. If you want to add extra adrenaline, join our winter ATV and UTV tours in Clear Creek. You won’t regret it. At the end of the day, you will be telling your story while enjoying a hot chocolate or cup of coffee.