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Have you seen a Moose in Estes Park?

Dewey Shanks

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Estes Park in the summers for most of my life...

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Estes Park in the summers for most of my life...

May 27 3 minutes read

Have you seen a Moose in Estes Park?

It used to be a rare treat to see a moose when you were visiting the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Today, you can often catch them on the East side in the Estes Park area.   

Most of the moose we see today in Rocky Mountain National Park are likely descendants from a herd that was introduced from Utah to  the Walden, Colorado area in the Never Summer Mountain Range.  In 1978 and 1979  24 Moose were released and they have continued to thrive over the years.  By 1980 1 moose was reported in the Kawaneeche Valley on the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Today it is estimated that 2,500 are in the state with  30 to 50 located on the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park.  

      Moose tend to stick to areas that has enough food for them to eat.  Their diet consists of Willow trees, Aspen leaves, and aquatic plants - Willow trees can supply 93% of their diet and are their preferred meal.  Moose can be up to 7 ft tall at the shoulders and weight over 1,500 lbs.  To get enough calories moose can eat up to 70 lbs a day! 

       Predators for moose have not kept up with their growth.  Bears are in the area but there are no wolves here to help keep populations in a more steady number.  If there continues to be a good supply of food for them to eat and a lack of natural predators we can expect their number to keep growing in our area.  


Moose are usually solitary and they can be aggressive so keeping your distance is a good idea especially because Moose can run up to 35 miles per hour! 

With the moose population on the rise, the chances of seeing them is increasing.  Here are some safety tips to avoid conflict with a moose.   • Keep a safe distance • Move slowly • Keep dogs on leashes • Back off when moose put their ears back, roll their eyes or appear aggressive • Carry a wildlife pepper spray, UDAP or Counter Attack, to use if a moose becomes aggressive. 


Most of my Moose sightings this year have been in or near the parking lots of hiking trails.  I think this is just some luck on my part though!  If you hike to a lake or Marsh areas early in the morning I think that is your best bet to have a Moose sighting of your own!

Sources Colorado Parks and Wildlife, National Parks Service 


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