Viewing the Aspen wildlife is a thrill for all outdoor lovers when they are taking part in all the adventures offered in the White River National Forest surrounding Aspen, Colorado.
Aspen is surrounded by the White River National Forest and is nestled in a flat valley, with three mountain ranges towering above, the Aspen, Smuggler and Red Mountain Ranges. Aspen is the place to truly enjoy nature and the wildlife that make this spot their home.
Bighorn sheep wander through the canyons and the mountainous areas of White River National Forest. Witness for yourself their huge curled horns that can weigh up to 35 pounds. You will have to look hard, because these magnificent beasts often just blend right into the scenery. Bighorn sheep often weigh as much as 300 pounds, and range in color from light brown to dark brown, with a white rump. They graze peacefully on grasses and shrubs. They climb steep terrain with ease, seeking cover from their predators.
This small breed of bear moves gracefully, and can run at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour. They have great eyesight and can spot people from a long way off. Adult males can weigh from 125 to 550 pounds while females come in around 90 to 275 pounds. American black bears are territorial by nature, and rub their bodies up against trees to mark their territory. Black bears can be aggressive, and residents of Aspen have had some up close and personal encounters. Because these critters can be dangerous to humans, it is important to learn proper food storage when out in the wilds and even in town.
The mountain goat is also known as the Rocky Mountain goat. They are large and sure-footed climbers, residing at high elevations and standing on rocky cliffs where their predators can’t get to them. You’ll recognize them by their beards, long horns and short tails. The males (called billies) have longer horns and beards than the females (nannies) and weigh 100 to 300 pounds.
The mountain lion (or cougar) is a solitary cat, avoiding people whenever possible. This animal is slender and very agile, weighing about 115 to 198 pounds. They stalk deer, elk and bighorn sheep through thick underbrush and rocky areas.
The last recorded spotting of a lynx took place in the White River National Forest, so there is a possibility you will see one here. They have a noticeable tuft of black hair on the tips of their ears, and black barred ruff, like a bow tie, under their neck. The lynx has large paws that are bigger than a human hand or foot. With their teeth, they can bite deeply into their prey, although they are not known for being extremely good hunters.
Many elk roam the forests of White River National Forest. In fact, the largest herd in North America is here. This is one of the largest species of deer. Elk range within and on the edges of forests for plants, grasses, leaves and bark. You will recognize them by their huge antlers, and in the fall you’ll hear the bugling sounds of their mating calls in their effort to establish dominance over other males.
Mule deer have large mule-like ears, are brown in color with a black-tipped tail and males weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 lbs while females weigh from 125 to 175. You can differentiate mule deer from white-tailed deer because their antlers fork or branch as they grow, whereas white-tailed deer’s antlers branch from a single main beam. It’s a joy to watch them run, with great bounding leaps and all four legs coming down at the same time. These deer don’t travel very far from their forage area, tending to bed down close to their food and water.