What kind of Wildlife can you expect to see?

 

One of the most common questions I get regarding wildlife is what we can expect to see. Well, after years of guiding I have been able to compile some real statistics of what we see on wildlife based tours. If your tour is not wildlife centric then your chances of seeing these animals is greatly reduced.

Some changes over the last decade worth sharing are Moose sightings have increased especially on the eastern side of the park with chances still low but possible in the Spring where before that was extremely rare. Sheep sightings have gone up year round. Coyote sightings have declined by a third likely due to the impact of the Wyoming Ground Squirrel population collapse in part due the 2013 floods.

The overall chances are year round. The notes detail special times of year that your chances of a sighting increases dramatically, or the range of times the animals are seen due to season or hibernation. Population listed are estimated numbers in the park. Populations greyed out are extremely common numbering in the many thousands in the park.

Species

Population

Chances Notes
Elk

1600

99%  
Big Horn Sheep

350-450

75%

88% Late Feb - May

Mule Deer

300-450

95%

85% or more Mid Sept - March

Coyote

125

24%

34% Nov - May, 11% June - August

Moose

65-110

93%

*Only during June - early Sept.

Black Bear

20-30

2%

See less than 5 bears a year

Yellow-bellied Marmot   95%

April - Sept.

American Pika   90%

May - Sept.

Beaver

60-100

15%

Only Evenings April - October

Chipmunk   95%

April - October

Pine Squirrel   80%

Generally only found while hiking

Abert's Squirrel

1000

5%

15% when we really look for them

Long-tailed Weasel

300-500

3%

May - Sept.

Badger

100

1%

April - Sept.

Bobcat

125

1%

See 3-4 a year usually winter

Mountain Lion

25

<.01%

Never seen one in the wild

Snowshoe Hare   20%

*Winter Snowshoeing Only

Great Horned Owl

200

70%

*Late March - early June if nesting

Wild Turkey

400

80%

Late Fall - Late Spring

Golden Eagle

4-12

2%

Winter increases to 3%

Bald Eagle

2-6

5%

Winter increases to 9%

There is a large variety of other small mammals not mentioned here like Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels, Mountain Cottontails, Wyoming Ground Squirrels, and various great birds that we see on a regular basis. We see them nearly every single day they are active.

*Currently Rocky Mountain National Park does not have Wolves or Grizzly Bears, though in the past we used to. Wolves may one day return to Rocky.

There are a number of species that do occur in Rocky Mountain National Park that we rarely see. Generally we only see these species a few times a year because they are nocturnal or avoid human activity. They include Pine Martins, Red Foxes, Pocket Gophers, various Bats, and Raccoons. If you are on a tour where you are lucky enough to see one of these animals then you have had a truly unique experience very few guests get to see.