The What, Why, and How of Experiencing Nature in the Cripple Creek Area

Red-Tail Returning - A welll trained red-tailed hawk returns to its perch when summoned just after sunrise.Colorado is known for many wonderful things, but the exceptional outdoors are probably in the top three. Our unique geography and excellent climate make it comfortable to enjoy the seasons throughout the year. For these reasons, we also have a wide array of awe-inspiring wildlife; if you spend any time outdoors, you are bound to see some of it. Meeting animals in the wild can be exhilarating, but it can also be dangerous. Here are all the animals you have a chance to see in the Cripple Creek area, where you can see them, and a few ideas on the most appropriate ways to view these majestic creatures.

What Can I See?

Many animals call Colorado home, so this is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the more exciting animals you may see while out and about in Cripple Creek.

USA, Colorado, Mount Evans. Mountain goat mother and kid with Rocky Mountains in background. Credit as: Cathy & Gordon Illg / Jaynes Gallery / Danita


  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Bison
  • Black Bear
  • Black-footed Ferret
  • Black-tailed Prairie Dog
  • Bobcat
  • American Pika
  • Badger
  • Bats
  • Beaver
  • Foxes
  • Gray Wolf
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Kit Fox
  • Lynx
  • Marten
  • Mink
  • Moose
  • Mountain Goat
  • Mountain Lion
  • Muskrat
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • River Otter
  • Yellow-bellied Marmot
  • Wolverine
  • Wild Donkeys


A Woodhouse's Scrub-jay enjoys a Colorado winter morning

  • Bald Eagle
  • Black-billed Cuckoo
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Brown Creeper
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Chukar
  • Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse
  • Cormorant
  • Cow Bird
  • Dusky Grouse
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Golden Eagle
  • Gray Catbird
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Greater Prairie-chicken
  • Greater Sage-grouse
  • Gunnison Sage-grouse
  • Least Tern
  • Lesser Prairie-chicken
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Mountain Plover
  • Mourning Dove
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Piping Plover
  • Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Western Bluebird
  • Whooping Crane
  • Yellow-breasted Chat


  • Boreal Toad
  • Prairie Rattlesnake
  • Spiny Softshell Turtle
  • Snapping Turtle
  • Massasauga

Where Can I See Them?

It is a safe bet that you will see some of these creatures just by stepping outside, but if you want to increase your chances of a wildlife encounter, visit these spots near Cripple Creek.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Fox kit at den

Cheyenne Mountain State Park is home to various critters, including over 100 species of birds. In addition, visitors will likely cross paths with smaller mammals like prairie dogs which often bring slightly bigger predators like coyotes and foxes around. The park is also home to larger predators like bobcats and bears, but those are rarely seen.

Mueller State Park

Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Looks Out With Deer Fur Tuft

This State Park is perfect for those who want to live among nature. It offers campgrounds, cabins, yurts, and even a horse trailer park situated on 5,000 acres peppered with gorgeous trees. Wildlife lovers frequent Mueller State Park to see elk, black bears, hawks, and mule deer.

Pike National Forest

Buck in Colorado

Pike National Forest is well-known for being a destination for wildlife lovers. This forest hosts animals of all sizes, from the tiniest turkeys to towering moose. What’s incredibly convenient about Pike National Forest is that three designated wildlife areas are part of the national wilderness preservation system, so you have an idea of where to go to catch a glimpse of these animals in their natural habitat.

Pike’s Peak

Bighorn Sheep in Winter n Wyoming

If you want to enjoy the animals from the safety of your car, Pikes Peak Highway is the way to go. On the drive up the mountain, you will likely see herds of bighorn sheep grazing and marmots napping on the rocks. A rarer but still possible sighting is the pika, an elusive but downright adorable animal if you are lucky enough to catch a peek. As a bonus, Pike’s Peak has a birding trail where you will see various native birds and may even come across a few other creatures on the path.

Pony Gulch Homestead

Great Horned Owl Portrait

If you want to stay closer to Cripple Creek, you can still mix some animal viewing with a bit of history by hiking the Pony Gulch Homestead trail. This trail is dog-friendly, and dogs are allowed to be off-leash. On the bright side, you likely won’t encounter many other people; however, with wild animals out there, you never really know what they may meet, so it is better to keep them close.

Wildlife Safety

Female moutnain lion in winter, hunting for a mouse

One of the many benefits of living in Colorado is being able to step outside and interact with nature. Still, it is essential to remember that when we head out on these trails with are essentially entering these animals’ homes, so there are a few laws of etiquette you should always follow.

  1. While feeding the donkeys in Cripple Creek is encouraged, you should never feed wild animals.
  2. If you are camping, ensure that food is sealed and hung up so as not to attract anything from raccoons to bears.
  3. Although the old saying that they are more afraid of you is true, you should always give wild animals space. Stay at least 30 yards away, so animals don’t feel threatened and lash out.
  4. Know the park’s rules before you go. They may have specific rules or advice for wildlife in their parks.
  5. Don’t run; if you come across a predator running may initiate its instinct to chase. Instead, slowly put as much distance as you can between yourself and the predator.
  6. Don’t rest on rocks. Rocks are often hiding spots for snakes, and the last thing you want is a close encounter with a rattlesnake.
  7. Don’t go out at night. Hiking during the day lets you see more of the natural beauty in the Cripple Creek area, and you won’t have to worry about the abundance of predators that come out at night.

Stay, Play, and Dine at Triple Crown Casinos

Tripple Crown Casino Cash Winner

Cripple Creek has something for everyone, from our quaint shops and unique restaurants to our rich historical sites. During the day, you can hit the trails and see many of the fascinating animals that the Cripple Creek area calls home, and at night you can catch a show before winning big at one of our casinos. Visit Cripple Creek and Triple Crown Casinos any time of year to see various animals as the seasons change and participate in the many events we host.


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