Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park: 5 Best Spots

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Once you’ve spotted a moose, you’ll never forget it. It’s a heady, iconic national park experience your family will always remember, not just because of your 10-year-old’s “gotta-see wildlife” checklist — they truly are a sight to behold, with their goofy noses, throaty dewlap and sheer size. 

So, where can you find these giant, gangly creatures — the largest member of the deer family — in Rocky Mountain National Park? 

Ultimately, you can find moose anywhere in this Colorado national park, but you can find them in a few major spots, which we’ll discuss in this article.

Before you search for moose, note that they’re massive, likely even larger than you expected. Adult males typically weigh from 1,200 to 1,600 pounds, and adult females weigh 800 to 1,300 pounds and stand about five to seven feet at the shoulder.  (So, yeah, more enormous than grizzly bears and black bears.)

If provoked, they may attack, so don’t get too close — and that goes for any wild animals you plan to look for!

YouTube video
I haven’t been lucky enough to see a moose in RMNP, but I have seen moose in the wild…here’s a very shaky (I was excited!!) iPhone video of us seeing TWO moose right outside of Yellowstone NP.

Best Place to Find Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

First, a bit of history: Moose have returned to Colorado after state wildlife experts transplanted 24 male and female moose in 1978 and 1979 in North Park, just to the northwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. 

When looking for moose, consider sticking to the park’s west side, because you’ll most likely spot the moose population there. We favor moose searching in these areas in the west side of the park:

  • Kawuneeche Valley
  • Timber Creek Campground area
  • Lulu City
  • Sprague Lake
  • Cub Lake
  • Horseshoe Park

Here’s a quick overview of the areas we’ll mention, circled in red.

map of Rocky Mountain National Park highlighting areas in red where visitors are more likely to spot a moosePin

Kawuneeche Valley (Coyote Valley)

In Rocky Mountain National Park, Kawuneeche Valley, or Coyote Valley, is the best spot to find moose. It’s a marshy valley near the beginning of the Colorado River, on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Coyotes, elk, mule deer and mountain lions also live there.

The lower part of the famous Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States, runs through Kawuneeche Valley.

What do moose like about the Kawuneeche Valley? 

They thrive on the willow thickets, green, meadowy areas, and tender aspen and bogs of aquatic plants.

How to Get to Kawuneeche Valley

To get to Kawuneeche Valley, follow Trail Ridge Road (U.S. Highway 34) from Grand Lake, which follows the Colorado River north.

Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park with creek and high grasses on both banksPin
Kawuneeche Valley RMNP

Timber Creek Campground

Does this mean we suggest looking for moose in the campground? 

No, not quite! However, you can often find moose on the Colorado River near Timber Creek Campground and the park’s west side. Note that this campground is in the Kawuneeche Valley. We wanted to highlight it specifically because if you’re considering camping in Rocky Mountain National Park and want to see moose, you can stay in one of its 98 tent and RV camping sites.

How to Get to Timber Creek Campground

From Grand Lake, head north Trail Ridge Road (U.S. Highway 34). After eight miles, follow signs on your left to Timber Creek Campground.

Timber Creek campground in Rocky Mountain National Park with multiple tents, cars in campgroundPin
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lulu City

Established in 1879 after silver was discovered in the area, it is an old miner’s route originally known as the Grand Lake/Lulu Wagon Road. Up to 500 people once lived there, and at its zenith in 1881, the town had some features unique to national parks:

  • 40 cabins
  • Two sawmills
  • A hotel
  • General store
  • Clothing store
  • Grocery store 
  • Dairy store
  • Butcher shop
  • Saloons
  • Blacksmith shop
  • Liquor store and more

You can still see the remains of several cabins (and hopefully a moose sighting!) along the route.

You can’t get to Lulu City without a hike, so that’s the caveat if you want a quick drive to look for moose. The 7.3-mile out-and-back Colorado River Trail (also called the La Poudre Pass Trail on some maps, like the USGS maps) near Grand Lake is a moderately challenging route — the hike starts with a brief ascent but levels out quickly. 

It takes an average of three hours to complete. Your family may enjoy fishing, hiking and horseback riding in this area (great in the summer months!) as well. 

How to Get to Lulu City

You can access the historic Lulu City site from the Colorado River Trailhead about 9.3 miles north of the Grand Lake Entrance and 10.6 miles south of the Alpine Visitor Center.

Lulu City Trailhead sign rocky mountain national parkPin
KimonBerlin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sprague Lake

One of the easiest hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Sprague Lake Trail is a mile-long easy trail around Sprague Lake, a piney, wheelchair accessible path near a popular backcountry campground.

How to Get to Sprague Lake

You can access Sprague Lake on Bear Lake Road trailhead, 4.4 miles southwest of the Moraine Park Visitor Center.

sprague lake at sunset rocky mountain national parkPin

Cub Lake

Cub Lake is a 4.6 mile (easy) hike that should take around three hours. It takes you to meadows, aspens, and a lake with beautiful views of water lilies — and hopefully a moose!

How to Get to Cub Lake

You can access the trailhead at Cub Lake, 1.7 miles from Moraine Park Campground.

map of Rocky Mountain National Park highlighting areas in red where visitors are more likely to spot a moosePin
Cub Lake map

Horseshoe Park

The flat, U-shaped valley (hence the name) sits at a high elevation in Rocky Mountain National Park, between Estes Park and Grand Lake. In addition to viewing moose, you may see bighorn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park.

How to Get to Horseshoe Park

Horseshoe Park Overlook at Rocky Mountain National Park is a paved roadside pullout and scenic vista on U.S. Highway 34 about 75 yards before Deer Ridge Junction in Estes Park.

horseshoe park in winter - rocky mountain national parkPin
Horseshoe Park in winter

How Many Moose Live in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Today, about 60 moose live in Rocky Mountain National Park, which wasn’t the case just 40 years ago! Moose have flourished in the area since the 1970s. 

road sign Rocky Mountain National Park aheadPin

Best Time of Day to Find Moose

You’d think that it would be easy to find such giant creatures. However, they blend well into dense timber and brush, where the trees mash together so much that you can’t see 10 feet ahead of you. 

Morning or Dusk

You have a better chance of zeroing in on one in the early morning or at dusk. Moose prefer shady, wet, boggy and marshy areas and typically feed in the morning or at dusk. After dark, note that you may not be able to see moose standing on the road because they stand taller than your car’s headlights.

cow moose and baby calf moose wading in water in rocky mountain national park, coloradoPin
mama (cow) moose and baby (calf) in Rocky Mountain National Park

Moose Behavior

Moose tend to hang out alone in Rocky Mountain National Park, but sometimes you’ll see them hanging out in female moose pairs, called cows. Cows tend to accept other animals in their space, especially in popular feeding spots. 

Gather in Small Groups

Moose sometimes gather in small groups (between 12 to 15) during winter when they locate popular feeding grounds. Small groups of males (bulls) may form in spring or summer. These groups are known as satellite groups.

Congregate with Their Young

During the summer, cows will congregate with their young (they drive them off after the calves’ first winter), and these are the moose for which you should keep a wary eye. Cows with calves are extremely protective, including when you infringe on their territory to try to get a photo!

cow and calf (moose) among lilypads in water - rocky mountain national park coloradoPin
cow and calf amongst lilypads – Rocky Mountain National Park

How to Identify Signs of Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

How do you know you’re on the right track? Like looking for other animals, have your kids keep their eyes peeled for certain things like prints, poop and food. Squeamish? Your four-year-old won’t think it’s gross!

Moose Scat

Okay, we know that finding poop, or scat, is a gross way to know you’re in a particular animal’s presence, but it’s a common way to track down animals in general. If you’re squeamish, find a ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park instead, and they can tell you whether they’ve seen any evidence of moose lately.

A moose’s scat looks like a mushroom or dumbbell, in shades of black and dark brown, though that changes seasonally. 

moose scat Pin
moose scat (moose poop)

Moose Tracks

You’re right if you assume you’re looking for giant tracks. Moose have the largest hooves in the deer family, typically around four and a half to seven inches long. They’re heart or teardrop-shaped, with two dewclaw dots behind. Where the two teardrops come together, they point toward the direction of travel. 

moose tracks on a sandy surfacePin
moose tracks (not to be confused with the ice cream…yum)


You can also find moose where you find their food — think marshy areas. They eat willow, aspen and aquatic plants, which contain plenty of protein and sodium necessary for their diets. They also enjoy natural mineral licks to replace sodium and other minerals they can’t get during the winter.

The Rut

Okay, this is a little more challenging to explain to kids. 

The moose mating season (uh… grown-up moose wrestling?) is called the rut. It always occurs in the fall (September and October). Bulls sometimes fight each other during the rutting season, and if you’re lucky, you might catch some of that action. A male moose typically mates with one cow each season, so he’ll keep an eye on his mate to ensure nobody else “steals” her away. Baby moose are born from mid-May to early June. A cow moose can violently defend her newborn moose calf, twins or even triplets.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the elk rut is more famous because the elk crowd into that area more than moose. As solitary creatures, you’ll likely see fewer moose during the rut.

two bull moose grazing in a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoPin
two bull moose grazing in a Rocky Mountain National Park meadow

Staying Safe Around Moose

Moose-human conflicts have erupted more over recent years because moose have started creeping into urban areas due to urban sprawl. 

Keep a safe distance from moose at all times. The National Park Service recommends staying at least 75 feet (or the equivalent of just over the length of two school buses) away from moose. 

If you encounter one on a trail, stay calm and give them plenty of space, talk to them (to make your presence known) and immediately move away the way you came to avoid serious injury. 

Never try to approach or feed a moose. They can run up to 35 miles per hour — you cannot outrun a moose!

Consider carrying wildlife pepper spray, such as UDAP, if a moose becomes aggressive. Also, always keep your dog on a leash to avoid conflicts with moose (*note: bear spray cannot be taken on an airplane, so best to buy it once you’re local).

Fortunately, most moose charges are bluffs. However, if they do charge, and get behind something solid, like a tree. If a moose charges into you, curl into a ball, protect your head and lie still until it leaves.

If you see a moose on a trail, the best practice is to tell wildlife managers, state wildlife officials or park officials so they can warn others.

Warning Signs

Watch for these warning signs if you do encounter this most dangerous animal. A large bull moose or cow may:

  • Put their ears back
  • Lick their snouts
  • Raise their hackles (similar to a dog)
  • Grunt
  • Stomp their feet
  • Charge or bluff charge
  • Smack their lips 
  • Toss their heads
  • Urinate on their back legs

Find Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

You never know where you and your family will see moose in Rocky Mountain National Park. Keep your eyes peeled, the binoculars at your side (this pair is great for kids, and this tripod is super helpful, too). You may see a glorious bull moose with antlers intact or a mama moose herding her baby when you least expect it. 

However, most importantly, keep your distance and enjoy the view of these majestic creatures — put your older kids in charge of a telephoto camera lens (this one for an iPhone is awesome) instead! Good luck!

Pin this article about moose in Rocky Mountain National Park for later! And if you found this article helpful, leave a comment on the pin. That helps others decide whether to use this information, too!

moose in RMNP and kids looking through telescopes at wildlife: "everything 2 know: Rocky Mountain National Park Moose"Pin
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About Heather Thibodeau

Heather Thibodeau is the founder and mom behind

She and her husband Dave (AKA Tib) are on a mission to travel to as many US national parks with their three kids in tow as they possibly can, doing their best to keep the little ones out in nature and off of screens in an increasingly digital world.

Heather has earned degrees in biology & chemistry from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies), and holds master's and doctorate degrees in physical therapy from Duke University (Go Blue Devils).

Heather is also the creative force behind The Heathered Nest where she shares her love of all things DIY and home decor.

Her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, This Old House,, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and more.

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