Mule Deer, Elk, and Moose are three of the most popular types of wildlife you’ll see here in Estes Park. All are a part of the ‘deer’ family, with Moose being the largest.
Mule deer are named for their large ears which are similar to those of a mule. There are currently several hundred mule deer living in Rocky Mountain National Park! Roughly 70% of their nutrients are gotten from the shrubs and greenery found in the open meadows of the park.
North American Elk, or wapiti, are one of the main attractions here in Estes Park. They can grow anywhere from 6.5-8.5 ft. long, 4-5 ft. tall, and 400-1100 lbs, much larger than their mule deer cousins. The current population of Estes Park sits around 3,200 during the summer and 600-800 during the winter. Most elk around the park can live anywhere from 10-13 years.
Moose, typically standing at 6 ft. hoof to shoulder and can be as tall as 10 ft. when their head is lifted. There are currently around 2,500 moose in the state of Colorado. Surprisingly enough, moose are actually incredible swimmers, diving to the bottom of larger bodies of water to feed on the lush grasses that populate the bottom. This helps to explain how one of their predators happens to be Orcas. No need to worry about seeing any of those in the park though.
As with all wild animals, be sure not to approach any of these magnificent creatures should you see them on the trail or off on the side of the road. They are unpredictable and most frequently seen during the rutting or birthing seasons and can be incredibly defensive and aggressive during those times. Be safe and enjoy your time getting to see and learn more about all the local wildlife Estes Park has to offer.