Rocky Mountains Forest Wildlife

Along the great curve of the Rockies, several types of forests cover the rugged terrain. On the lower slopes of the central and southern Rockies, and the surrounding plateau, pines are the dominant trees. They grow tall on open stands, interrupted here and there by grassy meadowlands grazed by herds of deer—and in Yellowstone, by Bison as well.

Slopes higher up or farther to the north are cloaked with spruces and firs. But this subalpine forest is not exclusively evergreen Where moisture seeps through or where fire has opened clearings, the wide, somber sweep of conifers is broken by airier patches of aspen, also found lower on the mountains. At the tree line, twisted pines cling to life with tenacious roots. Precipitous crags may tower above, home to soaring eagles and surefooted wild sheep and goats.

Places to see this habitat include:

  • Alberta: Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes national parks; Kananaskis Provincial Park
  • Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park; white River National Forest
  • Idaho: Boise, Challis, Payette, and Sawtooth national forests
  • Montana: Glacier National Park; Flathead and Lewis and Clark national forests
  • Wyoming: Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks; Shoshone National Forest

Animal life includes: Porcupine, Red Squirrel, Snowshoe Hare, Black Bear, Mountain Sheep, Mule Deer, Wapiti (Elk), Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Blue Grouse, Pygmy Owl, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, Varied Thrush, Mountain Bluebird, Western Tanager, Evening Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, White-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow

Plant life includes: Loddgepole Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, Douglas Fir, Quaking Aspen, Blue Columbine, Larkspurs, Pipsissewa, Bunchberry, Explorer's Gentian, Glacier Lily.