Looking for help to spend a few days doing mammal watching in the Denver area

Hi everyone

I will be in Denver mid July for work and I should have a 2-3  days available for sightseeing. I was therefore wondering if anyone would have some advices about good places to visit not too far from the city and for which mammal targets?

Also, I read many good things about Point Reyes in CA but is this place any good for bobcat sightings in July or should I forget it?

Thanks in advance for your recommendations




  • Jeff Higdon

    Mount Evans is often good for Mountain goats, but I had no luck (well, one very distant white blob that disappeared before I got the binos on it…) there in September 2016. They are often seen around the parking lot. I did see a Long-tailed weasel along the shore of Echo Lake, hunting Uinta chipmunks. Lots of Yellow-bellied marmots as well. I didn’t hike to the top, we (I was with a local photographer) drove to the lake and then back down again. Before getting to Mount Evans we drove the Guanella Pass, no mammals but the scenery is tops.

    They next day we went to Rocky Mountain National Park, with a focus on Shiras moose. We came in from the south, as it’s the best spot for moose, and had to brake hard for two crossing the road before even getting into the park. We followed that up with great views of a young bull feeding along a small river at Bowen Baker Pass. Lots of Elk, and the scenery there is beautiful. Lots (LOTS!) of pine beetle damage, it was very striking.

    No luck on other large mammals in RMNP, besides lots more Elk, but elsewhere in the park we saw Golden-mantled ground squirrel, Colorado chipmunk (reasonably certain, this reminded me that I never did confirm ID on that one), plus fantastic views of multiple American pikas, which was also a priority for me along with Shiras moose. The photographer I was with spends a lot of time in RMNP and said he’d never seen pikas so close or so cooperative, which made me feel better about not seeing any goats 🙂 We exited the park through Estes Park and had an unsuccessful look for urban Elk before heading back to Denver.

    I spent a few days in Denver as well, before and after the Mount Evans-RMNP trip (this was primarily a Red Rocks concert and Denver culture trip with a little mammal-watching in the middle). There’s a small garden/park downtown (Centennial Gardens), near the NHL stadium, that was a very reliable site for Mountain (Nuttal’s) cottontail – I saw them there every time I looked (in addition to several others close by, around a construction site). Also Fox squirrel at another local park. On my way back to the airport on the rail I saw Mule Deer and Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, quick views from a moving train.

    If you have time while in Denver, the natural history museum is very impressive, with some amazing natural history dioramas. I made the mistake of spending too much time on the floor with the North American dioramas, and discovered all the great other stuff (Africa, Asia) on the upper floors when I had too little time before closing to enjoy it all. I’m a museum taxidermy nerd, and that place has some of the best I’ve seen. If I ever go back to Denver a return to the Science and Technology Museum is a priority. The Denver Zoo is good if that’s something you’re interested in, and the art gallery is also fantastic.

    Have fun and good luck!


  • Samuel

    Thanks for this long reply Jeff. Appreciated.

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