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Old 03-15-2012, 09:28 PM
2 posts, read 4,030 times
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Hello all. My friend is visiting from out of state and would love to see as much wildlife (elk? Lions tigers and bears?) and nature as possible, without the scary drives.

What's scary to her? Well, today we went from Boulder to Nederland which was fine. Until we got to some areas in/around Ward. She asked me to turn around, heh.

Do any areas stand out as aesthetically pleasing, and/or present us with a good chance to see wildlife with minimal intimidating mountain driving?

I would imagine a trip to estes park is a bad idea if she couldn't handle the cliffs around Ward? hehe.

FWIW, we are in Boulder but are willing to travel a few hours for a great spot.

Her friend suggesting Red Rock area?

Thank you in advance!
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Old 03-15-2012, 10:32 PM
2,253 posts, read 5,642,295 times
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Wink In the right direction, and nearly there

There are surely deer near Boulder, and probably at times in someone's garden in town. You might check with someone at Chautauqua Park (basically Baseline Road and 9th Street), and ask for the best areas for wildlife viewing. It may take no more than a pleasant hike.

For lions, tigers, bears, and elk, you can have three of those four found in Rocky Mountain National Park. Sorry, no tigers, but it is not uncommon to find herds of elk wandering about not only in the park, but somewhere about in or near Estes Park, as maybe on someone's lawn. Mountain lions, as well as black bears, are far more elusive, and with enough sense to avoid humans. But the elk could care less, and about as tame as one is going to find in a large animal that could easily run you over, if so induced. So keep a certain respectful distance. There are also deer about. And particularly in winter one might come across mountain goats right in the middle of US 34 licking salt off the road, and ignoring traffic in no hurry to move.

I'm surprised you got even as far as Ward, as the drive up through Boulder Canyon to Nederland is narrow and winding enough. If it is any consolation, or you want to try again, from Ward it wouldn't really be any more precipitous or treacherous the rest of the way in to Estes Park. In some respects that might be the easiest route. But if not overly minding river canyons, then you might instead opt for US 36 (being the most direct route from Boulder, and most traveled), or US 34. Any way into Estes Park guarantees great scenery. Trail Ridge Road, over the Continental Divide, and center of RMNP, from Grand Lake is a magnificent drive; although considering your predilections, not at all advised. Fortunately, it is also still closed for the winter.

If you think you can make it as far as Estes Park (and it really isn't that hazardous), then a good chance of seeing some wildlife. For elk, it is one of the best places in the United States; some seasons are better than others in this regard, and one never knows; you may have to stop your vehicle to let a large number of them saunter across the road, or nary a bit of luck in looking all about. They are constantly in motion. While there are areas in RMNP you may not wish to drive to, the main visitor's center at Beaver Meadows would not be one of them, assuming having made it as far as Estes Park. Check with the rangers there, and they may be able to direct you to the areas with the best odds of finding elk. From this visitor's center you are at the very edge of the park, indeed just within it, and some of the meadows, such as Moraine Valley, which could afford your best chance in viewing, are no more of a drive than than already done.

Otherwise, in asking and looking about you may well happen upon some wildlife along the front range. Probably not elk, but possibly deer.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:17 AM
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Thank you so much. Your post has been extremely helpful to us.

Be well.
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Old 03-16-2012, 08:58 AM
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
1,955 posts, read 4,022,829 times
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Originally Posted by amders View Post
Hello all. My friend is visiting from out of state and would love to see as much wildlife (elk? Lions tigers and bears?) and nature as possible, without the scary drives.
Bears are still hibernating in the high country. Any chance of seeing a mountain lion are slim to none. I've lived here for 30 years (15 in the mountains) and have yet to see one. Though we did see a bobcat in our yard last week.

I read on another forum that the elk are all over town in Estes Park this week; near the Visitor Center, at Lake Estes and the golf course. If your friend was terrified of the Peak to Peak Hwy, then take US36 to Estes Park. There are only a few "scary" drop offs - tell her to close her eyes.

You could drive west on I-70 to Georgetown. Very scenic and not a scary drive at all. There is a big horn sheep outlook near Georgetown Lake. Take I-70 to the Georgetown exit 228. At the bottom of the off ramp turn left. At the stop sign turn left and follow the lake shore to the viewing area.
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:46 AM
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
8,423 posts, read 14,598,055 times
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Another vote here for a round of golf at the Estes Park course to see elk.

And another vote for bear and cat sightings being pretty random, there's really no place to go where you can expect to see them at a given time.

How about bighorn sheep? They come down Bighorn Mountain just inside the Highway 34 west entrance to RMNP at a certain time each day to water. Check with the guard at the entrance or call the park to find out what time.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:51 PM
Location: Colorado Springs
15,681 posts, read 7,342,485 times
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Guanella Pass out of Georgetown is a nice trip in the summer...right up into the mountains, great views, new road...BUT turn around when the road becomes gravel and return to Georgetown.
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Old 07-16-2013, 07:34 PM
Location: Denver, CO
8 posts, read 14,499 times
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Another possibility is the Roxborough Park. It is a nice place and not too far from Denver
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