Each year, I begin looking for moose to photograph in late May; however, it isn’t until early July that things really begin heating up.
Why late May? You may ask. That’s when I normally open my cabin for the summer in Red Feather Lakes. The moose begin coming down from the high country into the village, normally cows with their newborn calves but some young bulls too. And that is where it starts, me exploring the forests and lakes around the village, but it’s not a bonanza, yet.
Although the mountains are a great source of fun year round, for many, outdoor recreation season in the Colorado Rocky Mountains begins in early June when the schools let out and the weather improves. The real moose action begins in early July when the forest roads in the mountains are opened. A lot of the moose habitat in the mountains simply isn’t accessible due to snow and frozen lakes at the higher elevations. Often the forest service and county roads folks need to clean up the roads too, as the winters run long and the road conditions can be hazardous. They don’t want to allow access to the public until it’s safe.
The July 4th holiday is my kickoff for full tilt moose photography. With it comes swarms of humanity, even in the most remote areas of Northern Colorado. We have day trippers, hikers, campers, ATV riders, horse riders out of state tourists and later in the season, hunters to contend with. I’ve developed a tried and true avoidance strategy to get to and photograph moose. I don’t normally go up to moose country on weekends or holidays, as these are the most frantic days for human activity. The moose are out there in the wilderness all year long, but getting close to them requires relative calm and recreational weekend traffic makes it all the more difficult. The constant presence of vehicles on the mountain back roads drives the moose further away from the roads. I have to share the outdoors with everyone, but I keep it to a minimum by avoiding going out on weekends.
Here it is the 4th of July and I deviated from my normal plans for the holiday weekend. We have friends and family spending the weekend with us in Red Feathers and one of my friends and I made the first official full on moose run of the summer amongst the swarms of humanity. The moose were there, as were the hikers, campers and tourists. Now, the crowds aren’t anything like what you might find in Ocean City, MD, or on the beaches of Florida, by our standards it’s pretty busy nonetheless.
Today’s photo was made early on Sunday morning, July 3rd. And as usual, there were a lot of people camping and hiking and the moose weren’t getting too close to the roads, so finding good photographs was a little more difficult. We found plenty of moose, but just couldn’t get them up close and personal.
So the moose season is now underway and I’ll be making more frequent trips during the week when all the day trippers are busy in their office cubicles. The moose look to be in great shape this year. They are in their normal locations. When it calms down from the holiday, I’m looking forward to seeing more of these majestic animals in the wilderness of Northern Colorado.