What I like Wednesday: Colorado’s Wildlife

I think I’m in a mountain kick right now because today I want to shout out all the awesome creatures that Colorado is home to, all of which live in the mountains (or at least foothills).

We have to start with bighorn sheep because they are Colorado’s state animal. I’ve seen bighorn sheep at Waterton Canyon, which is only an hour drive from Denver, and over near Cripple Creek, which is west of Colorado Springs. I’m pretty sure I also saw one on the tundra’s of Mount Ida in the Rocky Mountain National Park. I was hunkering down by the largest rock I could find (which wasn’t very large) to try to stay out of the wind, and all of a sudden, this sheep came out of nowhere and was walking straight toward me. She almost completely blended in to her surroundings so it was a surprise to both of us when we spotted each other. I was the only human around at the time so it was just me and her and this incredible land. I’ve been on the Mount Ida trail three times now and that was the only time I saw a sheep up there. If I didn’t have this one picture I may have thought it a dream:

Another animal that I’ve seen on the Mount Ida hike, as well as in other places throughout the Rocky Mountain National Park, is pika. Honestly, pika should be Colorado’s state animal because they’re adorable as anything. These tiny creatures are related to rabbits and hares and only weigh 7 ounces (that’s less than half a pound). They blend in so well to their environment of loose rock that it’s very hard to see them. You can hear them clearly, however because their calls are shrill squeaks. 9News shared 10 fun facts about them back in 2014 and it is worth the quick read.

Another fun animal to look for while in the mountains? Marmots. Basically land beavers (because of how they look), these guys are hilarious. I’ve come across them lounging in the middle of a trail before, chilling out on a chunk of marble, and just acting goofy all around. These creatures have no fear, which is both sad and also fun because it means you can stand still and watch them for a while without them running off. If you hike anywhere in the higher elevations of the mountains, you’re bound to see one of these furry fellows.

Moose and elk also roam the mountain landscapes and are always a pleasure to spot. Multiple years in a row I’ve seen a giant herd of elk in the Kawuneeche Valley. You don’t have to (nor should you) get close to these animals to appreciate their size and beauty. Oftentimes you can even pull over on the side of the road to watch them grazing in the morning or evening. Don’t even have to go on a hike!

You don’t have to know a lot, or even a little, about any of these animals to enjoy seeing them in the wild. I barely know anything and it doesn’t stop me from squealing in joy whenever I see one of them. Keep your eyes open and keep your distance. These animals are wild and they deserve to stay that way. Never feed them or approach them. Want to see more Colorado wildlife? Check out this cool Colorado Division of Wildlife’s coloring book.

Check out all the things I like about Colorado here.

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