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Maroon Bells: Marmots with a Chance of Bighorn Sheep

Everyone in Aspen will tell you to go to Maroon Bells, part of the White River  National Forest that you’ve probably seen on inspirational posters.  The degree of gorgeousness is way high, but to a New Yorker like me,  indistinguishable from so many of the local wonders.

Wildlife is one of the things I saw here, but not on the stunning trails right outside Aspen. Up here there is a chance to see black bears, elk and bighorn sheep–though I’m sure that most visitors don’t. But in just a couple hours I saw one pika–a cute little rabbit rodent that looks like a feral hamster–and a couple yellow-bellied marmots.

The marmot was the big star. My friends Eric, Karen, Oliver and I hiked to Crater Lake. Just  before the lake is a field of boulders on the left. As we passed the first time I heard a loud, single-note whistle. I wondered what bird it was. On the way back Karen spotted the marmot. I think we have Oliver, who is a dog, to thank for riling up the marmot, who stood and whistled for a few minutes, while its companion ran off.

On the way out I saw another marmot. Conveniently, it was in a roadside area just a bit deeper into the park where there’s a marmot crossing sign. I went back a few hours later with my husband David. By then it was snowing and we got to see a couple mule deer.

Where to Go See Animals Out West

marmot xing

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