May is the wettest month in Rocky Mountain National Park. Each year brings the familiar pattern of spring snows relenting to warmer days, only to quickly return with more snow and rain showers. Contrary to what you might think, it's a great time to be in the park (providing you are properly outfitted for the weather). With all the precipitation comes thousands of small flowers, green grass, and many opportunities for roadside sightings of wildlife. Since the grass is so short, May is an ideal time to watch coyotes, and if you're lucky, you might be able to see badgers hunt for fossorial mammals. Early in the month of May it is a good time to spot the big horn sheep up close - often on the side of the road on Route 34. If you plan on coming for a visit to Estes Park and RMNP in May, bring a parka and boots you can get muddy. Plan to stay for about a week if you can, because on the days with poor weather you can spend them looking for wildlife, and when the sun comes out you can enjoy an amazing hike!
blog post by Jared Gricoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding. Click here for more info on how you can schedule a wildlife tour of RMNP.
Even when "spring" looks a lot like winter, there are some tell-tale signs that warmer weather is on its way. One such sign happens every April, as many of RMNP's small mammals come out of hibernation. The Wyoming Ground Squirrel, like you see in the above picture, are generally seen in the first week of April. When they emerge it is the first time they've seen the sun in nearly seven months! These amazing creatures eat meadow grass in the park, and play an important role in the ecosystem. Each family of Wyoming Ground Squirrels creates a burrow system that includes a restroom chamber. Since they mostly eat grass and seeds, some of these seeds do not get digested and are "planted" in the chamber. Wyoming Ground Squirrels are cute and fuzzy, and because they hibernate more than 50% of their lives, are not the smartest animals. This works out well for predators in the park, making them easy summer time prey.
Come to Rocky Mountain National Park this spring to join the Wyoming Ground Squirrels as they wake up from their long winter slumber!
by Jared Gricoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding