The Rocky Mountains In Winter: 8 Animal Sightings You’re Likely To Have!

wildlife winter rocky mountains

The Rocky Mountains are one of the most iconic backdrops in the United States, and exploring them in the winter can be a thrilling adventure. But it’s not just about the breathtaking views – there are plenty of animals to discover as well! 

The Rocky Mountains in the wintertime is a sight to behold – and even more so when you get to see the wildlife that inhabits this stunning landscape. From elk to moose, find out which eight animals you can expect to see during your visit, and get tips on how to spot them! 


In the Rocky Mountains in winter, you’re likely to see all sorts of animals! One of the most common animals you’ll see is the moose. Moose are very large animals, and they’re very well-adapted to living in cold weather. They have a thick coat of fur that helps keep them warm, and they eat a lot of plants and bark to stay nourished.

moose winter

If you’re lucky enough to see a moose in the wild, it’s sure to be a memorable experience. Just be sure to keep your distance – moose can be very dangerous if they feel threatened!

Great Horned Owl

In the Rocky Mountains in winter, you’re likely to see a variety of animals, including the Great Horned Owl. This magnificent bird is one of the most popular animals in the Rockies, and for good reason! 

wildlife winter rocky mountains Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is a large owl with a wingspan of up to five feet. It has bright yellow eyes and distinctive ear tufts. The owl’s plumage is mostly brown and white, with some dark barring on the wings. 

The Great Horned Owl is a powerful hunter, preying on small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and squirrels. If you’re lucky enough to see a Great Horned Owl in the wild, you’re sure to be impressed by its hunting prowess and striking appearance.


If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the Rocky Mountains during the winter, there’s a good chance you’ll see a porcupine. These unique creatures are well-adapted to the cold weather and can be found scurrying around in the snow looking for food.

Porcupine buffalo gap national park 2

Porcupines are interesting animals to watch, and if you’re lucky enough to get close enough, you may even be able to hear them eating! They have a very distinctive way of eating, using their front teeth to chomp on their food and then drawing it back into their mouths with their long tongues.

If you’re spending time in the Rocky Mountains this winter, keep your eyes peeled for a porcupine sighting – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!

White Tailed Ptarmigan

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the Rocky Mountains during the winter months, you might be treated to the sight of a white-tailed ptarmigan! These little birds are well-camouflaged against the snow and Ice, but if you keep your eyes peeled you just might spot one.

wildlife winter rocky mountains Great ptarmigan

Ptarmigans are well-adapted to life in the cold, with thick feathers and feet that are covered in scales. They also have a special type of blood that helps them to withstand the low temperatures.

If you do see a white-tailed ptarmigan, be sure to take a moment to appreciate this beautiful creature – after all, it’s not every day that you get to see one!

Black Capped Chickadee

The Black Capped Chickadee is a common sight in the Rocky Mountains during winter. These small birds are easily recognizable by their black cap and white cheeks. While they may seem delicate, they are actually quite hardy and can withstand cold temperatures quite well. 

wildlife winter rocky mountains Black Capped Chickadee

Chickadees are often seen flitting about in search of food, and they will often visit bird feeders to supplement their diet. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these little birds, take a moment to appreciate its beauty!


In the winter, elk can be found in the Rocky Mountains grazing on grasses and shrubs. They may also be seen browsing on trees and shrubs. Elk are most active during the day, but they may be active at night during periods of heavy snowfall. 

elk winter

During the winter, elk often migrate from higher elevations to lower areas where food is more plentiful. They can also be found in large herds in open meadows and valleys close to streams or rivers. Elk will travel long distances in search of food and water, so they are commonly seen along roadsides. 

In the winter, elk will typically gather in large herds. They are very social animals and form strong bonds with other elk. The size of a herd can range from as few as a dozen to hundreds of individuals. 

During the winter months, elk have thick coats that help keep them warm in the cold temperatures found in the Rocky Mountains. They also have large hooves that are well adapted for walking on snow and ice.


If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a raccoon in the Rocky Mountains during winter, you’re in for a real treat! These intelligent and resourceful animals are most active at night, so you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled if you want to spot one. 

Raccoons are very curious creatures, so if you see one poking around in the snow, it’s likely that it’s looking for food. 

wildlife winter rocky mountains Raccoon

Raccoons thrive in cold climates and have adapted many strategies for surviving the winter season. They typically enter a state of torpor during colder months, which is when their body temperature and metabolism slow down to conserve energy. It’s also not uncommon for them to move into dens with other raccoons in order to keep warm.

In the Rocky Mountains, raccoons can be found scavenging for food, such as nuts, berries, insects, or small animals they find in the snow. They will also eat birdseed and pet food left outside by humans. If you live in the area, it may be fun to put out some food in your yard and see if any raccoons come visit!

Snowshoe Hare

The snowshoe hare is a popular animal to spot in the Rocky Mountains in winter. These hares are characterized by their large, furry feet, which help them to move around in the snow. They are also known for their white fur, which helps them to blend in with their snowy surroundings. 

wildlife winter rocky mountains snowshoe hare

Snowshoe hares are most active at night and during the early morning hours of winter. They feed on a variety of vegetation, including twigs, leaves, mushrooms, berries and bark. To survive the cold temperatures of winter, these animals have thick fur coats that insulate them from the cold.

During this season, snowshoe hares may migrate south to lower elevations or hibernate in dens until spring arrives. It’s important to remember never to disturb a snowshoe hare while they’re hibernating as it can cause them stress. Observing these animals in their natural habitat is a great way to learn more about them and appreciate the beautiful Rocky Mountains!


The Rocky Mountains in winter are a truly stunning sight and offer plenty of opportunities for animal sightings.  

The Rocky Mountains are home to a wide variety of other animals, too. Keep your eyes peeled for moose, bighorn sheep, elk, lynx and more! And don’t forget about the birds – you may be able to spot hawks and owls along with the bald eagle.

There is no doubt that a visit to the Rocky Mountains in winter is sure to be an unforgettable experience. So why not take advantage of all this nature has to offer and get out there?

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