Rocky Mountain National Park

The scenery alone is worth a trip but for birders, Rocky Mountain National Park can be paradise.  More than 270 different species have been recorded in the park–many are just passing through, but the park’s specialties are what the birders seek!   Some of the most sought-after birds that can be found in RMNP include White-tailed Ptarmigan, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Black Swift, Williamson’s Sapsucker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, American Dipper, MacGillivray’s Warbler,  and Brown-capped Rosy-Finch.

Hugh Kingery in his classic book, Birding Colorado, says it this way:

 “The premier mountain bird-watching place in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park has fine examples of every mountain habitat in Colorado…Superb scenery, excellent facilities, and lots of birds make Rocky a prime destination.  Easy access to each habitat and its complement of breeding species lends enchantment to a visit.   You can see mountain birds in RMNP from your car and on short or long hikes.

COST

Our daily guiding fee for one to three birders is $525 which includes using our vehicle from our starting point, lunch, and park entry fee.

The Birds:

The birds we might see will vary throughout the year and you can view a chart of what can be expected here.

Meeting Point:

We meet either in or near Longmont or in Estes Park. Our meeting time can vary but generally first thing in the morning. Our full day is approximately 9 hours from pick-up to drop-off.

Itinerary:

From our Longmont base it takes about 45 minutes to reach Estes Park and another 10 minutes to reach the park entrances west of Estes Park.  The rest of the day is spent visiting specific locations within the park depending on our target birds and the weather.  RMNP is the third most-visited national park (nearly 5 million in 2019) and our itineraries are planned around the areas and times of the most congestion. You can learn more about Rocky Mountain National and download a brochure or map here.

Red-naped Sapsucker

When to Visit:

Rocky Mountain National Park is a spectacular destination year round but the wide range in elevation definitely affects both the weather and the birds.  The best time to see the most variety of birds is June to September but a visit anytime of year can be productive.  The highest parts of the park are generally not accessible from approximately November through May.

Difficulty:

Depending on our destinations, we may do some walking on moderately smooth trails with some rocky sections. Our total hiking distance will depending on the specific birds you’d like to see and your activity level.  Many birds can be found right along the paved roads

Travel Notes:

The elevation at the Beaver Meadows Entrance to RMNP is 8,200 ft. above sea level; if we are also exploring the alpine tundra along Trail Ridge Road, the high point is 12,183.  If you are visiting from outside Colorado, you should be aware of the potential impacts of altitude.  If you have health conditions that may be affected by altitude, you should consult with your health care professional.  You can learn more here.  Finally, the weather in Colorado can vary widely especially at higher elevations and you should be prepared with layers of clothing and, in summer, for afternoon rain showers.   See more about weather in RMNP here.

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