Local Wild Animals of Denver: Exploring the Wildlife of Mile High City

Denver wildlife

Denver, widely known as the Mile High City, is not just a thriving metropolis nestled in the heart of Colorado’s picturesque landscape. It is also a place where nature and urban life coexist, offering residents and visitors unique opportunities to observe and appreciate a diverse array of wild animals.

From majestic raptors soaring through the sky to elusive mammals roaming the foothills, Denver is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of wild animals in Denver, exploring their habitats, conservation efforts, and the remarkable experiences they offer to those willing to seek them out.

Avian Wonders

birds of Denver

Denver boasts a remarkable variety of bird species, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. The city’s extensive network of parks, open spaces, and nearby wilderness areas provide an ideal habitat for both resident and migratory birds.

One can spot iconic species such as the majestic bald eagle, the elusive peregrine falcon, and the vibrant western tanager. The nearby Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit location for bird enthusiasts, offering a chance to glimpse rare species like the burrowing owl and the snowy egret.

Mammals of the Foothills

Rocky Mountain National Park Elk
Source: actiontourguide.com

Denver’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains provides a natural habitat for a diverse range of mammals. Visitors to Denver can encounter fascinating creatures such as mule deer, coyotes, and black bears in the surrounding foothills.

The vast expanse of the Rocky Mountain National Park, just a short drive away, allows for even more awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, including sightings of elk, bighorn sheep, and elusive mountain lions.

Urban Wildlife

Raccoons Turned Our Gardens Into a Toilet

Denver’s urban environment is not devoid of wildlife. The city’s green spaces, such as City Park and Washington Park, serve as havens for urban-dwelling creatures.

Squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons are commonly sighted, while beavers can be observed along the banks of the South Platte River. It is not uncommon to see hawks circling overhead or a family of geese paddling along the city’s lakes and ponds.

Conservation Efforts

Denver and its surrounding areas are committed to preserving the natural habitat for its wildlife residents. Various organizations and initiatives work diligently to protect and conserve these species. The Denver Zoo, for instance, plays a crucial role in education, research, and conservation efforts.

Their programs focus on local wildlife, aiming to raise awareness and inspire action for the betterment of animal welfare.

Responsible Wildlife Viewing

img source: uncovercolorado.com

While enjoying the wild animals in Denver, it is important to practice responsible wildlife viewing. Observing from a distance, using binoculars or telephoto lenses, helps minimize disturbance to the animals’ natural behaviors.

Respecting posted signs and following guidelines set by local parks and wildlife organizations ensures the safety of both animals and humans.

Best Places in Denver to See Wild Animals

When it comes to spotting wildlife in Denver, several places offer excellent opportunities for observation. Here are some of the best locations to see wildlife in and around the city:

1. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Located just northeast of Denver, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge spans over 15,000 acres and provides a haven for a diverse range of wildlife. Visitors can explore the refuge’s trails and observation points to spot bald eagles, burrowing owls, bison, deer, coyotes, and various waterfowl species.

2. Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo
img source: cbsnews.com

While not a natural habitat, the Denver Zoo is home to a wide array of animals from around the world. The zoo houses both exotic species and those native to Colorado. It provides an opportunity to observe and learn about wildlife in a controlled environment, making it an excellent destination for families and animal enthusiasts.

3. City Park and Washington Park

Washington park, Denver
img source: corcoran.com

These urban parks within Denver city limits offer green spaces where wildlife can be observed. City Park, in particular, is known for its large lake, which attracts various bird species, including geese, ducks, and herons.

Washington Park features a boating lake where you might spot turtles, as well as open fields and trees frequented by squirrels and other small mammals.

4. Cherry Creek State Park

Cherry Creek State Park
img source: hotels.com

Situated southeast of Denver, Cherry Creek State Park encompasses a vast area of prairie, wetlands, and a reservoir. The park offers hiking and biking trails along with opportunities for boating and fishing. Wildlife commonly spotted here includes mule deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, rabbits, and a wide variety of birds.

5. Rocky Mountain National Park

img source: aarp.org

Although located about an hour and a half northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts. It is quite popular among Denver’s population.

The park boasts breathtaking mountain scenery and is home to diverse wildlife, including elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, black bears, and numerous bird species. The park offers various trails and scenic drives for wildlife viewing, such as Trail Ridge Road.

6. South Platte River

South Platte River
img source: denverwater.org

The South Platte River, which flows through Denver, attracts a range of wildlife, particularly along its banks and in the surrounding green spaces. Look out for beavers, muskrats, waterfowl, and even the occasional otter while walking or cycling along the river’s trails.

If you want to move to Denver, read our article about information about Denver, from the mountains to culture.


Denver’s wild animals are a captivating addition to the city’s vibrant atmosphere, showcasing the harmonious coexistence of nature and urban life. From the stunning diversity of birds to the awe-inspiring mammals inhabiting the nearby foothills, Denver offers a range of wildlife encounters for nature enthusiasts and animal lovers alike.

By appreciating and respecting these creatures and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure their continued presence in Denver’s wild landscapes for generations to come. So, embark on your own adventure, and discover the wonders of Denver’s wild side.

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