Arriving in the picturesque town of Grand Lake just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park we made a quick stop to walk the streets. We bought some Salt Water Taffy and browsed a few gift shops but soon felt the need to explore the outdoors and search for some wildlife.
We drove to East Inlet Trailhead just outside of town and did the short walk to Adams Falls. Approaching the falls we overheard hikers talking to a ranger about how they’d seen a wolverine. Briefly I wondered if they’d also seen Magneto on the trail; I know Wolverine from the X-Men but up till this point had never really known that a wolverine was actually a real type of animal – we don’t get them in New Zealand. Unfortunately we didn’t spot the wolverine. We had however also heard that this area offered reasonable chances for spotting moose and as we continuing along the trail we soon saw three. First we spotted a mother and calf and then another moose grazing about a hundred yards from the trail. We stopped to watch and eventually one of the moose crossed the trail only a few metres away from where Renee was standing photographing and filming. I thought she was a little too close but she insisted she had an understanding with the moose and that the moose didn’t see her as a threat.
Moose video further down post.
We camped that night conveniently just outside of the Rocky Mountain National Park and drove into the park (Western side) the following morning. We met with a park ranger for a talk on beavers, moose and willows which was interesting. Did you know that moose and beavers compete for willows? We saw how sparse the willow plants were on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park (where most of the moose live) and learnt how there are currently no beaver populations on this side. We saw some protected willow groves as part of a longer term study on the relationship, and potentially a place where beavers could be reintroduced at some future point.
After the talk we continued to drive along the Kawuneeche Valley in search of wildlife and soon spotted a herd of elk not far from the road by a river. This was really our first spotting of elk with their antlers on and we stopped for a while and watched them graze and then meander into the river.
While with the elk we talked with another nature enthusiast who mentioned they saw quite a few moose, some with their antlers, just outside of the national park heading back to Grand Lake town. We decided to head back and try find the moose as we’d still not seen a moose with antlers. Sure enough we eventually found some moose grazing in a field outside of the park. Initially they were quite far off and hard to see with bushes blocking our view but we waited and had something to eat and eventually they came closer.
When we first spotted them there were no other cars stopped, by the time we left there was a whole row of cars pulled over on the side of the road with people out and about watching the moose.
Eventually we headed back to our camp site. We’d spotted antlered moose and elk as well as learnt about moose, beavers and willow. It’d been a pretty successful two days on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The following day we would take the Trail Ridge Road up over the Rocky Mountains to the eastern side of the national park.
What animal interests you more, moose or elk?