Colorado is home to some pretty impressive mega fauna. These Colorado wildlife spend most of their time in the high country so don’t worry, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter a bear wandering the streets of Denver. On the other hand, if you go for a hike anywhere west of the Front Range, you’re likely to find traces of (if not see!) some of these beautiful creatures. Remember that the animals you see in the high country are wild so respect their space and enjoy their beauty from afar.

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1. Pronghorn

Pronghorn

As the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, pronghorns are capable of running up to 55 miles per hour for half a mile, 42 miles per hour for one mile, and 35 miles per hour for four miles. Pronghorns are built for speed so they’re great at evading predators, allowing their numbers to skyrocket until recently—hunting them has become more popular.

2. Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion

Extremely territorial, mountain lions tend to keep their distance from each other. As loners, they rely on stalking and ambush behavior to catch their prey. They can be a threat to hikers in Colorado, for their stealthy nature can make it difficult for a human to detect an attack before it’s too late.

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3. Bighorn Sheep

Colorado Bighorn - OutThere Colorado

Bighorn sheep can weigh up to 300 pounds. However, it’s worth noting that their horns can make up at least 10 percent of their body weight, sometimes topping 30 pounds per set.

4. Moose

One of North America’s largest herbivores, males can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Given their massive size, the average moose needs around 9,000 calories per day to maintain its weight. That’s a lot of food for an animal lacking upper front teeth.

5. Elk

Rocky Mountain National Park - I-Ting Chiang - OutThere Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Photo Credit: I-Ting Chiang.

It’s no secret that male elk have massive antlers, which they shed once a year. These antlers come in handy during a time of the year called “rut”, in which male elk spar with each other in attempt to gain the attention of their female counterparts.

6. Beaver

 

North American Beaver

Perhaps most popularly known for their dam building abilities, beavers often work through the night, transporting mud and rock with their paws and limbs with their mouths. The largest beaver dam in North America is in Alberta, Canada, measuring 2,790 feet in length.

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7. Black Bear

Bear

Not as aggressive as their larger relative the grizzly, the Colorado black bear population is booming, with an estimated 19,000 black bears calling this state home. Fortunately, they’re usually too scared of humans to cause much trouble, preferring to scavenge in secrecy when they get close to civilization.

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