So, you wanna see wildlife within 2 hours of Denver? This handy guide gives you all the best spots to find elk, mountain goats and moose!
One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since moving to Colorado years ago has always been, “Where can we find wildlife?” The first several times I just laughed and said, “good luck,” because I hadn’t seen any. More importantly, ethically, I don’t think we should really spend our time seeking them out. However, since moving to the mountains I’ve had my fair share of safe run in’s and found some dedicated spots to seek them out. Read below for the best spots to see wildlife near Denver, Colorado!
So, You Wanna See A Mountain Goat within 2 Hours of Denver
Mountain Goats. They’re big, they’re furry and they have real cute faces. Their babies? Even cuter. It’s no surprise that when people share photos of their run-ins with these guys that others go wild.
So, you’ve come to Colorado and now you want to see one for yourself!
Things to note, Mountain Goats have HORNS. So at no point should you ever attempt to approach a Mountain Goat, ever. Ever! Same goes for any wildlife, but many people seem to think that since Mountain Goats in our area frequently come up to cars and get close to people that they’re friendly. Y’all, it’s a wild goat. Observe from afar. And here’s where:
Mount Evans is located in Idaho Springs, CO and home to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
Once you drive past Echo Lake, be prepared to first run into Colorado rams before you start to approach the summit of Mount Evans. Once you reach the Summit Lake Park area, you’ll find the ram are long gone and now you’ll be running into Marmot!
These furry mountain beavers (as I call them, they are not beavers lol) can be seen between the rocks and foraging. Head just a bit further up to the actual summit of Mount Evans and keep your eyes peeled. This is where most of the Mountain Goat action picks up! Watch the road, though, it’s steep and narrow.
So, You Wanna See Some Elk within 2 Hours of Denver
One of the animals most commonly associated with Colorado is the Rocky Mountain Elk. If you wanna see wildlife within 2 hours of Denver, your best bet is to look for Elk. There’s a handful of places you can run into these huge beasts and if you actively live in the mountains, chances are you run into them frequently. But when you’re actually looking for them, that’s when they seem to all disappear. Luckily, there’s a couple spots you’re nearly guaranteed to find them in:
Trail Ridge Road – Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved road in a national park. It takes you through an incredible stretch of the park where you’ll see the most amazing mountain views, but you’ll also likely run into a herd of elk as well. Especially in the spring and fall. Large herds of elk will gather in grassy areas right off the road. Keep in mind that most of the road you cannot park on the shoulder, so take care if you decide to pull off and check out these incredible creatures.
Estes Park, CO
A small town right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes is known for more than just The Stanley Hotel and Stephen King’s The Shining. Every fall, usually between mid-September through October, you can drive into Estes and find yourself overwhelmed by the presence of Elk using the town as a shield from hunters. These are some smart animals! A drive through town and you may find yourself having to stop for Elk to pass or you’ll drive by the town’s inner-city park and find the whole herd hanging out. Just remember, their presence in an urban area doesn’t mean they aren’t still wild animals — do not ever approach or try to feed the elk!
Evergreen, CO — County Road 65
This hidden gem is one you’d never find unless you’re lost or a resident of Clear Creek County. Tucked in ever so slightly in Evergreen is County Road 65. You’ll want to take this drive at sunset, one because it’s beautiful rolling green hills and two, because that’s when elk are usually present!
So, You Wanna See a Moose within 2 Hours of Denver
Ahh, the elusive moose. Such a large creature should be easy to find, but more often it is not! That’s because moose are incredibly smart and like to be left alone. I remember the first time someone explained to me just how aggressive moose are, I couldn’t believe it. But after you’ve seen one in person, you’ll understand why these giants do so much damage. I can’t impress enough how important it is to leave them alone if you encounter them. Keep a distance, better yet, if you see one — get MORE distance between you and the moose, especially if it’s a momma. They are notorious for charging and will not stop until you’re dead, seriously. Now, all that said, if you’re still dying to see a moose — here’s some spots you might venture to.
Dead Man’s Lake — Mount Bierstadt
The popular 14’er Mount Bierstadt is home to more than just epic views and pika, it’s also stomping grounds for herds of moose that love the abundant vegetation in the area. Early morning or dusk, you can drive up to the top parking lot and start looking — you might see one or two chomping on the tundra. Make your way closer to Dead Man’s Lake, the start of the popular 14er’s trail, and you may get closer to them than expected. We ran into a couple bulls less than 20ft from us that were enjoying the tall shrubs for dinner.
Now this one is a bit more of a wild goose hunt, but while searching you’re probably going to run into a handful of other critters including foxes and deer. Silverthorne is tucked in by Dillon, CO and apparently a major spot for moose to spend their time. Get up before the crack of dawn and simply start driving through neighborhoods slowly and quietly. Your chances of seeing a moose on the side of the road is greater than you think!
Mud Lake Trail — Nederland, CO
Another great spot for finding moose in Colorado is in the mountains of Nederland, CO. Mud Lake Trail used to be home to a cool run-down school bus, but now all you’ll find are some great views and maybe a moose or two. When you pull into the parking lot and begin walking around, you’re bound to see a sign about moose sighting in the area since they’re so frequent. We didn’t run into any while on the trail, but on our way out of the parking lot a mother and her babe were trotting along a dirt road. We kept our distance and observed from afar as they wandered into the tree line.
So, You Wanna See a Sasquatch within 2 Hours of Denver?
I’d be silly to leave off the state’s most elusive creature, the Sasquatch a.k.a Bigfoot. If you know me, you know I’ve got a slight obsession for these mysterious bipeds. When I found out there had been dozens of sightings across Colorado — I was STOKED. Now, I personally haven’t run into one yet so I can’t give you GPS coordinates. But according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, there’s quite a bit of activity in Park, Summit, Larimer and even Jefferson County! All within about 2hrs of Denver. It sounds like the hunt is on. Park County has had over 10 sightings alone! What are you waiting for?
For more guides on the outdoors, be sure to visit my Colorado Guides and Outdoor Guides pages! If interested in partnering on an informational guide to promote your brand, contact me here. In the meantime, enjoy the wildlife you see within 2 hours of Denver. Be sure to tag me if you find any!