Wildlife-related events and festivals are sorted by the approximate time of year in which they take place. Contact information, either phone numbers or Web addresses, is provided when possible. Be aware, contact information may not be maintained year-round due to the seasonal nature of these events.
- Bald Eagle Watch Training at Barr Lake - Brighton (January 20)
From February through July, participants monitor and collect data on nesting behavior and productivity and report any disturbances that may affect nesting eagles. The data helps wildlife managers ensure continued healthy populations of Bald Eagles in Colorado. Join the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies for training at the Barr Lake Nature Center. Be sure to RSVP.
Waterton Canyon Interpretive Project - Littleton (Year-round)
CPW volunteers man a small cabin in Waterton Canyon
year-round, primarily on busy weekends. Stop by to learn responsible wildlife viewing tips, check out local wildlife artifacts, and more!
- Bald Eagle Festival - Barr Lake State Park (February 2)
February is an excellent month for bald eagle viewing, including nesting pairs and many other wintering eagles. Eagles begin their courtship behavior in January, including tumbling in mid-air, nest building, and staying close together. In mid-February, and often coinciding with Valentine’s Day, bald eagles lay one to three eggs. Celebrate this unique time at Barr Lake by attending the Bald Eagle Festival at the nature center. A Parks pass is required to enter the park ($8 daily/$80 annual). For more information, see the Barr Lake page.
Bighorn Sheep Day Festival - Colorado Springs (February 9)
This free event celebrates the fact that our majestic state mammal is often seen within the Colorado Springs city limits! Find out more about the amazing Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep! Look for bighorns using binoculars and scopes, take a guided nature walk that focuses on bighorn sheep, hear presentations about bighorn sheep biology and the Rampart and Pikes Peak herds, take an auto tour through Queens Canyon, and experience a bighorn 'touch table'. Free refreshments, too.
For more information, visit the website of the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center (look under "Your Visit" and then "Annual Events"), or call 719/634-6666.
Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) - Nationwide (February 15 - 18)
From the GBBC website: "The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds." GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon.
High Plains Snow Goose Festival - Lamar (February 7 - 10)
Numbering at least six million, lesser snow geese are considered to be the most abundant goose in the world! Four distinct populations are recognized. The lesser snow geese you will see at the High Plains Snow Goose Festival are part of the Western Central Flyway population that are on their way back to the Canadian Arctic where they nest. This flock winters in southeastern Colorado, New Mexico, the Texas panhandle and northern Mexico.
The festival offers tours, educational programs, presentations, arts and crafts, and a banquet! Visit the festival's website.
March / April
Monte Vista Crane Festival - Monte Vista (March 8 - 10)
The festival hosts wildlife experts, local naturalists, and biologists who present educational workshops at the Monte Vista Middle School (workshops are free!), while flocks of dancing sandhills assemble in the neighboring farm fields, just east of town. Bus tours to the nearby refuge and adjacent farmlands provide visitors with the opportunity to view this spectacle up close and personal, with a knowledgeable local guide. Special tours feature raptor identification, sunset trips to view cranes, a visit to a local potato warehouse (with free potatoes) and visits to closed areas of the refuge for Crane Fest participants.
For a listing of scheduled workshops, registration information, and more, go to the festival's website or call 719/852-2731.
Eckert Crane DaysThe organizer is Black Canyon Audubon Society
- Eckert/Delta County (March 15 - 17) Audubon members (on site 8:30am-Noon) provide spotting scopes and information for visitors while observing migrating sandhill cranes. The event
is planned for each morning in anticipation of observing the birds during their morning lift-off. Bluebird boxes will also be available for a $20 donation.
- Greater Prairie-chicken Viewing - Wray (Late March to mid-April)
Each year, visitors from all over the world come to Wray, Colorado to see the sun come up over the grasslands while watching prairie-chicken males dance a courtship dance, and listening to their 'booming' courtship calls. Since greater prairie-chicken leks in northeastern Colorado are located on private property, guided tours are made possible through a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the Wray Chamber of Commerce, the East Yuma County Historical Society, the Wray Museum, and local landowners.
To register for a tour, and for more information, visit the Greater Prairie-chicken Viewing Tours website. Reservations are required. Register early as available reservations go quickly!
Each tour includes an evening educational program presented by CPW staff at the Wray Museum, the guided field trip, and a ranch-style breakfast.
- Greater Sage-grouse Viewing - Walden (April 15 - 16 & April 22 - 23)
Reservations required through North Park Chamber of Commerce. Guided viewing trips offered; tours are limited to 20 people per day, so it’s best to register early. Each tour begins at 6:00 p.m. the evening before the viewing trip, with a meal and a short educational program provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Participants meet before dawn the next morning for the trip to the sage grouse lek.
- Karval Mountain Plover Festival - Karval (April 27 - 28)
Who should go to this festival? Anyone wanting a first-hand, guided experience to see shortgrass prairie wildlife, including mountain plovers, burrowing owls, and swift foxes. Visit the festival's website or the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies website for more information the schedule of events, registration information, and directions. (Karval is about 75 miles east of Colorado Springs.)
Ute Mountain - Mesa Verde Birding Festival - Cortez (May 8 - 12)
A four day event. Take tours of local sites, including Mesa Verde, Denny Lake, McElmo Canyon, Ute Mountain tribal Park, and many more; hear presentations about protecting birds, backyard feeders; attend a bird-oriented art show; learn bird songs! Opening reception, guest speakers, and some meals provided. For further information, visit the festival's website; the Web site contains complete schedules for each day and a registration form.
Welcome Back Turkey Vulture Day - Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown (May 18)
Nothing heralds the return of spring to Castlewood Canyon State Park more than the sight of turkey vultures circling high above in search of food. To honor this annual natural event, come join us for Welcome Back Turkey Vulture Day! Casetlewood Canyon, located five miles south of Franktown, boasts the largest summer roost of turkey vultures in Colorado, with up to 100 birds some seasons.
Enjoy activities for all ages, including: a TV Dinner (hamburgers and hotdogs), face painting and a storyteller. Naturalist led hikes will take visitors to spots where one can get a better view of these majestic birds. Learn how TV’s employ the 3 P’s to survive and help us humans lead better lives. Curious why they are bald and fly “wobbly?” Come to Welcome Back Turkey Vulture Day to answer this and more!
World Migratory Bird Day - Statewide (May 11) 2018 is Year of the Bird! Not an event for Colorado exclusively, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is celebrated worldwide, with events in Colorado sometimes associated with it or occurring at the same time. For details about local events, or to learn how you can organize and register your own celebration, visit the WMBD website.
- 5th Annual Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival - Prairie to Peak - Colo. Springs (May 17 - 19)
Spring migration in Colorado is often full of surprises so the festival promises to be a special event. The Cheyenne Cañon Hummingbird Experience is also now part of this festival! Field trips, seminars, tours and events are happening throughout El Paso, Pueblo and Teller Counties. Be sure to visit the website to see the diversity of opportunities available to celebrate everything birds and nature!
On Saturday evening, enjoy the "Birds and Brews" happy hour with free appetizers, drinks and more!
Festival field trips will visit migration hot spots such as Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Regional Parks, Lake Pueblo State Park, Manitou Lakes, Chico Basin Ranch, Pinello Ranch and other locations searching for common and unexpected birds alike. Registration is required for some of the events.
For more information, see the Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival website.
Mt. Evans Wildlife Viewing, Summit Lake Parking Area on Mt. Evans (June - Labor Day) Colorado Parks and Wildlife partners with City of Denver Mountain Parks and the US Forest Service to provide alpine-related education for visitors to the mountain. Stop by and visit our dedicated and knowledgable volunteers as they help you spot the animals living in the harsh land above the trees! Check out wildlife artifacts, see high-altitude wildlife, and learn how to recreate responsibly on the sensitive alpine tundra. Fore more information, visit Summit Lake or Mt. Evans Recreation Area.
- Orient Mine Bat Viewing - San Luis Valley, Villa Grove (June - September)
At least once in your life you must experience this extraordinary event. A one-hour hike will take you to the abandoned mine from which you will see nearly 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats emerge! The Orient Mine is the summer home of the northernmost and largest bachelor colony of Mexican free-tailed bats known in North America. Call 719/256-4315 or visit the website for visitor information.
Marmot Festival - Staunton State Park, Pine (June 22 - 23)
Celebrate the Staunton Park mascot, the yellow-bellied marmot. Visitors can enjoy guided hikes, viewing opportunities, kids’ activities, learn to rock climb, and more!
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival - Crested Butte (July 5 - 14) Visit the wildflower capital of Colorado for guided walks and other tours, photography classes, workshops, and more!
For more information see the Wildflower Festival website.
10th Annual Grand Mesa Moose Day – Grand Junction (July 27)
Help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of this free event perfect for the entire family! Take a scenic drive on Grand Mesa and learn about moose. Activities include: scavenger hunt & prizes for kids; touch table with hides and tracks; programs on moose viewing and safety; moose biology & telemetry demonstrations. Join us at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center off of Highway 65, 20090 Baron Lake Drive.
Colorado Day (First Monday in August) Colorado State Parks will celebrate Colorado Day by offering free entrance to all 41 Colorado State Parks. Colorado Day was created by the state legislature to mark the anniversary of statehood, granted in 1876 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Free entrance to the state parks is an annual Colorado Day tradition.
Come join us at the Moose Visitor Center where everything is about our claim to fame, the majestic moose! Learn about moose, their habitat, and how to observe them safely in the wild. The festival includes expert speakers, workshops, family activities, and more. Location: Moose Visitor Center, 56750 Highway 14, 1 mile east of Gould, CO. Park pass required.
Yampa Valley Crane Festival - Steamboat Springs (August 29 - September 1 )
The Greater Sandhill Crane is an iconic species of the Yampa Valley. In late summer and early fall, hundreds of cranes from the Rocky Mountain flock join the local birds to rest and feed before continuing their journey south. The festival includes daily crane viewings, expert speakers, live raptors, films, art exhibits, workshops, family activities and more. All community activities and events are free unless otherwise indicated in the program!
Registration for the Yampa Valley Crane Festival begins July 1 at www.coloradocranes.org
Many events are free and do not require registration. Certain activities, including guided crane viewing shuttles and events with limited space, will require advance registration and a nominal fee. These events are noted in the schedule. Be sure to register early as we expect these events to fill quickly.
For more information, please call 970-276-1933 or write to ColoradoCranes@gmail.com
. Schedule and other event details are available on the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition
- Fall Birding Festival at Barr Lake - Barr Lake State Park, Brighton (September 8)
Fly over to Barr Lake State Park to celebrate the fall bird migration, an experience worth sharing with others. Be entertained at this festive community event filled with food, fun, and lore—something for everyone. Plan for a day packed with free food and activities. The Fall Birding Festival is free, but a valid parks pass is required for each vehicle that enters the park.
For more information about the Fall Birding Festival, call Barr Lake Nature Center at 303-659-6005 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Living History Days at Staunton State Park (September 7 - 8) Meet at the Group Picnic Area (10am-3pm) to view the local historic group's displays and try square dancing! From there, embark on a treasure hunt to find the Reynold's Gang's gold! The treasure hunt meanders through the historic Cabin District and ends at the original Staunton Cabin (35min. hike). Folks dressed in historic garb will greet visitors with cowboy music and Johnny cakes with lemonade. Enjoy demonstrations such as a Mountain Man campsite, trapping and hunting, medicinal and edible plants, as well as games, crafts, and blacksmithing.
Nature's Harvest Fest - Fort Collins Due to construction, NO EVENT IN 2019
This family friendly and educational event is a one-day celebration of all things nature and harvest in Northern Colorado (NoCo).
Celebrate adventures in NoCo's big backyard with cooking and urban homesteading workshops, two butterfly releases, tastings of fresh produce, a marketplace full of local artisans and food producers, entertainment, kids' activities and food vendors.
A $2 per person suggested donation is appreciated. For more information, visit the Nature's Harvest Fest website.
Join the Audubon Society at the Audubon Nature Center at Chatfield State Park for this annual one-of-a-kind family event about owls of Colorado! Visit with local wildlife organizations, explore hands on owl activities, and meet some of the owls of Colorado including the great horned owl, Eastern screech owl, burrowing owl, and more. Live owl demonstrations, live music, owl art display, face painting , owl booths, owl pellet dissection, owl crafts and food trucks. Register online
with Audubon Society of Greater Denver.
Annual Celebrating Bird Migration - Waneka Lake and Greenlee Wildlife Preserve, Lafayette
(September 23; rain date of September 30 )
Explore the wonderful world of birds in a beautiful place! See a live hawk and other birds of prey up close and view birds in the wild through spotting scopes and binoculars. Learn about migration, marshes and the role avian friends play in our lives. Enjoy art projects and a scavenger hunt.
The 1/3 mile walking path between the parking area and Greenlee Wildlife Preserve will feature several local organizations with great activities and displays to offer! This free, public event is suitable for all ages and will also feature an array of fine door prizes.
This program begins at the Waneka Lake East parking lot, where Emma St. ends at Caria Drive in Lafayette. For more information, contact Martin Ogle at Martin@EntrepreneurialEarth.com
Estes Park Elk Festival - Estes Park (September 28 - 29 )
A two-day festival, as described on the event's website: "Elk Fest offers visitors a chance to view elk during the rutting season in the wild, as well as expand their knowledge of elk. Learn more about elk, their habitats, and how to observe them in the wild. Held in Bond Park, located in downtown Estes Park, Elk Fest will offer bugling competitions, educational areas, seminars, music by the Elktones, Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American story telling and music, guided elk viewing tours, and vendors that offer art from oils and pastels, hand made elk-ivory jewelry, scrimshawed antler knives, elk antler lamps and chandeliers, elk hide pillows, silver and gold jewelry, and elk antlers." Find out more from the Estes Park Elk Fest website, including schedules and costs (for elk viewing tours), or write to the event organizers.
- Chatfield Big Sit! - Chatfield State Park, Littleton (Oct 12 - 13 )
The Big Sit! is like a "Big Day", or a bird-a-thon, in that the object is totally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you can observe. This is a free event, open to everyone! Some people have called it a "tailgate party for birders". There are Big Sit! circles all over the world, including Guatemala, India, the Netherlands, England, Vietnam, and New Zealand. (Description from the Bird Watcher's Digest Web site.) See the BWD website, the Denver Field Ornithologists website, or the Chatfield State Park website for more information.
"Cranes for Kids" Festival - Monte Vista (Mid-October)
Kids, bring your parents to Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy the fresh fall air, migrating Sandhill cranes, food, fun, and educational activities. The festival includes a barbeque lunch, a puppet show, watchable wildlife workshops, nest hunts, bird migration games, learning about the water cycle, and horse drawn wagon rides. For additional information, contact the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 719/589-4021.
Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival - Georgetown (November 9/Second Saturday in November)
Celebrate Colorado's 'state mammal'—the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The Town of Georgetown and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife offer opportunities to watch and learn about one of Colorado’s oldest bighorn sheep herds. Plus, speakers and short wildlife educational programs for the whole family! Artisans and shop owners in Georgetown will showcase their wildlife related art, gifts, crafts, and other goods. Visit the Festival's website for more information.
Christmas Bird Counts - Various locations (Mid-December to Early January)
More than 50,000 observers participate each year in this all-day census of early-winter bird populations. The results of their efforts are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas. Simply put, the Christmas Bird Count, or "CBC", is citizen science in action.
Visit the Audubon website for more information and to find your local Christmas Bird Count contacts.
Chatfield Christmas Bird Count - Chatfield State Park (December 15)
Birders, nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers across the western hemisphere participate in this annual count, which started more than a century ago. Sponsored by the Denver Field Ornithologists and the National Audubon Society, the count includes 24 official count areas, including four within Chatfield State Park. Today, the CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the western hemisphere. The information, all generated by volunteers, has become a crucial part of the federal government’s database for natural history monitoring. Please contact the area leader to register and receive site specific information: Chatfield State Park, Joey Kellner, 303-978-1748