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Glenwood Springs shares the natural and urban landscape with Colorado’s most spectacular wildlife. Find out where to spot bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, and other majestic animals.

Nature’s diverse creatures thrive in and around Glenwood Springs. Deer range through neighborhoods, herds of elk recline in meadows, and eagles soar above Glenwood’s riverways looking for their next meal. Catching a glimpse of these and other local wildlife is easier if visitors know where to look and how to behave in the presence of these magnificent animals. Follow these tips of optimal wildlife viewing.


Tips for Viewing Wildlife

Always follow these tips from the White River National Forest when viewing the area wildlife:

  • Observe animals from a safe distance.
  • Move slowly and casually, not directly at wildlife.
  • Never chase or harass wildlife.
  • Leave pets at home.
  • Respect others who are viewing the same animals.
  • Do not feed wild animals.
  • Respect private property.
Rocky Mountain Elk

Also known as wapiti, the majestic Rocky Mountain Elk like to congregate in open meadows and on the golf courses south of town between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Herds can be spotted there throughout the year, but especially in winter when cold temperatures force the animals to lower elevations. Bring binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens for the best viewing. Keeping a safe distance is critical; winter is especially hard on all animals as they need to conserve their energy to survive the season.

Big Horn Sheep

Keep an eye out for Big Horn Sheep, these sure-footed creatures are visible even before entering Glenwood Springs. They can be spotted on the rocks just east of Glenwood Hot Springs along the cliffs that border Interstate-70.

Mule Deer

Deer are ubiquitous in and around Glenwood Springs, but the best times to spot them are in the early morning hours and at dusk or later. Deer are partial to the scrub oak hillsides surrounding town, and are frequent visitors to the community’s backyard gardens. Though it may be tempting, please do not feed the deer, doing so ruins their chances of surviving in the wild. Again, though they may seem friendly and tame, they can be unpredictable; enjoy the pleasure of watching them from a distance.

Black Bear

Spring and fall are the best times for bear sightings. In autumn, bears come down to lower elevations to eat the service-berry and other plentiful fruit that grows nearby.
Bear encounter tip: Unless they have cubs nearby bears generally avoid humans. If cubs are in the vicinity, keep a safe distance away; mama bear is probably nearby. Hikers should consider purchasing a bear bell to alert bears to their presence.

Black Bear Facts:

  • Black is a species, not a color. In Colorado, many black bears are blonde, cinnamon or brown.
  • With their bulky fur coats, bears can look bigger than they are. Males average 275 pounds and females average 175 pounds.
  • Over 90 percent of a bear’s natural diet is grasses, berries, fruits, nuts, and plants. The rest is primarily insects and scavenged carcasses.
  • Black bears are very wary of people and other unfamiliar things. Their normal response to any perceived danger is to run away or climb a tree.
  • With a nose that’s 100 times more sensitive than a human’s, a bear can smell food five miles away!
  • During late summer and early fall, bears need a whopping 20,000 calories a day to gain enough fat to survive the winter without eating or drinking.

Glenwood’s two rivers are a natural attraction for a thriving bird community that includes bald and golden eagles, falcons and hawks. The Rio Grande Trail that borders the Roaring Fork River and the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path that follows the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon are excellent locations to spot these birds of prey that enjoy the plentiful fishing opportunities along the waterways. Other birds commonly seen around Glenwood are Clark’s Nutcracker, gray jays, tree and violet-green swallows, chickadees and Steller’s jay. In riparian areas look for red-winged blackbirds, mallards, gadwall, American coot, belted kingfisher, great horned owls, western screech owls and woodpeckers.


Take a drive to the Glenwood Springs Fish Hatchery for a fun, experiential outing. Located up Mitchell Creek in West Glenwood Springs the fish hatchery is operated by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. Interpretive signs explain the lifecycle of trout. The Glenwood Springs Hatchery was established in 1905 and is the third oldest hatchery in Colorado. A cold water facility, the hatchery raises Mackinaw (lake) trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and Kokanee salmon fingerlings and brood fish. Stop by the visitor center for a free self-guided tour. This is one place where it’s okay to feed the fish, use the coin-operated feed-the-fish food dispenser, but be sure to keep hands out of the water!



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Visit Glenwood Springs

We are pleased to announce the US Forest Service rebuild of the Hanging Lake Trail that is set to begin this spring will allow for hiking on a limited basis through the construction period. Reservations will be available weekly, with available hiking dates and times released every Tuesday at 8:00 am MDT. This system aims to streamline access to the trail during construction, while ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

 Visit the Hanging Lake page HERE for more information and the booking portal.