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Watching Wildlife in Northwest Colorado

Wildlife Viewing Tips and EthicsElk photo

  • Early morning and late evening are the best times to observe wildlife.
  • Avoid approaching animals with young and do not disturb nesting birds.
  • Be quiet and avoid startling animals. Stay behind cover whenever possible.
  • Be patient and wait for animals to come into view.

Cedar Mountain

Look for three different habitats found in northwestern Colorado as you wander Cedar Mountain-- Sagebrush, juniper woodlands, and mountain shrub. Each of these habitats offers something to the wildlife that use Cedar Mountain and other areas of northwestern Colorado.

  • The Big Sage - The sage brush habitat covers vast areas of the West. A wide variety of wildlife utilize this habitat, depending on the season. It provides perches, nesting sites and hiding places for birds and a place to get out of the summer heat for cottontails and jackrabbits.
  • Juniper Woodland - Rocky Mountain junipers are also called western red cedars, the namesake of Cedar Mountain. Wildlife may live in the juniper woodland habitat year-round or visit it seasonally to take advantage of nesting sites, shelter from harsh weather, or food variety (seeds, fruits, mice, chipmunks, deer).
  • Mountain Shrub communities are a transition between grasslands and forests, providing wildlife with a diverse supply of food, nesting places, and cover. There is a wide variety of wildlife that utilize this habitat, depending on the season. Springtime sees summer and resident species prepare to nest, hibernating rodents and reptiles emerge and mule deer feed on new leaf growth before moving up to summer range. Seeds and fruits mature in the fall and feed wildlife that is migrating or preparing to hibernate. Many species find refuge from high elevation winter snow in the mountain shrub community.

Other Cedar Mountain Information

Axial Basin

Axial Basin is located 30 miles south of Craig, off of State Highway 13.  County Road 17 provides the best access through the basin and is usually open year round.  Axial Basin is a series of rolling, sagebrush-covered hills and drainages.  The area is an important winter range for deer, elk and pronghorn.

Elk and bald eagles are easily visible from the road during January through March, while deer and pronghorn can usually be seen year round.  Golden eagles and rough-legged hawks also winter in the bsin.  However, a variety of grassland and sage birds are observed throughout the year including the sage grouse.  Small mammals include cottontails, jackrabbits, and coyotes.  Keep an eye out on the roads during the summer months for bull snakes and the prairie rattlesnake. 

Other Axial Basin Information

  • This is a travel restricted area.  Please stay on designated roads and trails.
  • Respect private property.

Other Wildlife Viewing Areas in Moffat County

  • Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge
  • Divide Creek Reservoir
  • Gates of Lodore
  • Harpers Corner Road/Echo Park
  • Morgan Bottoms
  • Yampa River Corridor

For more information on wildlife viewing areas, check out the Colorado Wildlife Viewing Guide, Second Edition Revised.  Young, Mary Taylor, Watchable Wildlife, Inc. 2007

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