A Day in the Rockies: Big Mammals

And I don’t mean people. We had phenomenal luck, helped by the fact that we were on the road early and spent a long day (12 hours) in the mountains. The first thing we saw were Big Horn Sheep, right by the road. I was on the wrong side of the car, but still got a decent look as well as a few pictures. (Thank you, zoom lens.)

Big horn sheep, right by the road
Another sheep, just up the hill from us

Later, as we were hiking into Long Lake, everyone we passed kept telling us to look for the moose. They were “just ahead”, “not that far” and “right on the trail”.  We had chosen the Long Lake hike because a gentle quarter-mile walk brings you to the lake and meadow surrounding it, with a great view of the stream and surrounding mountains. But our wild moose chase turned the walk into something more like a mile hike, which Mom and Dad found especially difficult because, as Dad noticed more than once, “They need more oxygen up here.”

He was really really really big. If it weren't for the drop off between us, he would have been too close, too.

Totally by chance, I got the best look at the moose, and possibly the best picture. The others were still coming up the trail when I was thinking “Man, is he BIG” and pushing the button. One of the other people who was nearby and taking pictures got a little too close, and the moose decided to move off. Fortunately, he headed down the trail towards my family, so that  they got to see him as he walked through a meadow and into the forest.

Disgusted moose heading into the woods

Having seen two of the big mammals of the mountains, Kurt and I wanted to score a third — elk. We see them all the time when we are in the Estes Park area, so we were hopeful. But despite staying later than planned and driving into more remote parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, the best we could do was a mule deer.

We didn't see her until we got out of the car...

At least she had the decency to be right in the parking lot where we couldn’t miss her.

Tomorrow: a little little wildlife.

Author: Kit Dunsmore

Kit is a writer and an artist who adores living in Colorado. Whether she's hiking in the mountains or walking the prairies, she's always watching the wildlife in order to learn more about the natural world.

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