One thing is for certain. Moose aren't the most eloquent creatures, but they sure are cool. Standing over six feet tall and weighing between 600 and 1,600 pounds, moose are a common sight within Rocky Mountain National Park and a visitor favorite.
But until the late 1970s it was rare to catch a glimpse of moose in Colorado, even though there are records of moose sightings as far back as the 1850s, according to an Aspen Daily News article. In 1978, Colorado Parks and Wildlife first introduced 12 moose from Utah to the area west of the Never Summer Mountains near the town of Walden. In 1979, another 12 from Wyoming were released in the same region in the Illinois River drainage. This early population thrived and some moved into the Laramie River Valley. In 1987 a transplant of 12 moose from Wyoming helped establish a strong population in that valley as well.
Today, the state's moose populations are doing well with an estimated 2,500 living throughout the state, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Moose are primarily found on the west side of the park, but they are occasionally spotted in wet areas on the east side as well.
Seeing moose in the Park typically is not that difficult. Since they are so large it's hard to miss them grazing in the low-lying valleys and wet areas near lakes. Moose are known to return to a favorite feeding ground with surprising regularity each year which makes it easier for rangers to predict where they will be. As long as there are aquatic grasses and willows to feed on, they will stay in the same area.
Rangers suggest heading up the Kawuneeche Valley and also the Colorado River near Timber Creek Campground on the west side of the park. Another great spot is along the Colorado River up by Lulu City, also on the west side of the park. Though a bit of a hike, moose are known to graze here and the seasonal springtime wildflowers are spectacular.
Safe Moose Watching
If you do happen to see a moose make sure to remember they are wild and unpredictable. Since moose on a whole don't have the best eyesight it is imperative you do not approach them. Typically moose on guard either raise their head high, or dip their head to a low position. If you do happen to encounter an angry moose it is best to leave slowly and not provoke the animal.
Moose aren't small. In fact they are quite large and rather clumsy looking. Traveling typically in small groups, moose feed on water plants, aspen, and willow. It is not rare to see a cow traveling with her mate or calf close behind.
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Posted by Tammy Copeland on