By definition, you can’t promise someone they’ll see wildlife. Wildlife is something you encounter spontaneously, in its natural habitat. If you want guarantees, go to a zoo. That said, if you visit Estes Park, Colorado, you will see wildlife. There’s a reason why the city’s name includes “Park”: Home to Rocky Mountain National Park, nature is simply blended into the city, the same way a city built near water will include bridges. In the middle of a public square, a herd of elk doze in the mid-day sun. Bighorn sheep graze along hillsides. Massive predatory birds soar overhead. In Estes Park, these aren’t rare occurrences, they’re daily encounters. As such, the animals are treated as neighbors, earning various nicknames and nomenclatures. Their habits and routines are observed, the same way you notice a neighbor on their evening jog. “Big Steve, he likes to hang out in the meadow around midday,” a well-connected local might note about a particularly large bull. They’ll refer to them as bulls because elk is the species and locals will individuate animals, as evidenced by the celebrity of Big Steve. Then there are the chipmunks. As a species, the chipmunk has always held a particular interest in the American imagination, to the point that you could probably name at least three famous pop culture examples right off the top of your head. Encountering them at Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is final confirmation that chipmunks have fully ingratiated themselves into our culture. Simply put, they will come right up to you and demand food. Whether or not you’re eating (but you are, because Gem Lake is a perfect place for a sandwich). Setting aside the ethics (and it should go without saying, DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS), the behavior itself is fascinating. The same way their squirrel cousins in the city might prowl around the parameter of a picnic basket in the park, here are little alpine chipmunks scurry around the rocks to collect a stray peanut from your trail mix. So no, we can’t absolutely, 100% guarantee that you’ll see wildlife on one of our all-day hiking tours in Estes Park. But if you want to go to a place where the wildlife is familiar enough to earn a first name, we will take you there.

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