Tuesday, August 4, 2009


After leaving Utah last week, we spent a few days in Estes Park, Colorado. It is so easy to forget how much of the world is out there when you live in the East. I haven't been out West for a long time and I had forgotten just how different and beautiful it really is.

The Rocky mountains, like the canyons around Utah, are indescribable. No picture can really convey the grandeur and beauty of either place. My kids have gotten the opportunity to expand their horizons, exponentially. What a great time.

But back to marmots.

Rocky Mountain website

The largest and stockiest of local squirrels is the yellow-bellied marmot. They can vary in length between 19 and 26 inches and can be identified by the dark head with a yellowish band across the bridge of the nose. Marmots can be found on the rocky subalpine slopes which are close to sources of grassy or herbaceous vegetation where they excavate networks of burrows to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

I've never seen one. There were lots of wildlife in the Rockies I had never seen and my total raptor count for the two days I was there was:
2 - peregrines
2- red tails
1 - prairie falcon (arguably)

Not a great tally, but it gave me something to look at in the sky, nonetheless.

But when we drove up into the Rocky Mountain National Park, there were marmots everywhere! On the hills, on the road, on the rocks, everywhere!. Now, I hunt for groundhogs occasionally with my dogs, but we always have a bit of a search to find them. Marmots, a close relative to the groundhog, were prolific! And I hate to say it - they were cute.

We came across a mother and her babies cavorting on the side of the road, and they showed no fear of cars or humans (as we got out to photograph). Terrierman might want to take a road trip - though the ground is ridiculously rocky.

I have read that the marmot is a prey item to hawks and eagles. I believe it would be to big for most hawks, though the young would be a good size. The hide would be tough to break into, and I wonder if it would be worth the trouble?


Isaac said...

I spent last weekend up in Estes Park and will be doing it again this weekend! It's one of our favorite places. We have a fall ritual of going to a farm on the East side of I-25 to pick all the produce you can handle for $15/person and then cruising up to the park to listen to the elk bugle. It's awesome!!

I understand the busy-ness of family trips, but its a standing offer if you ever swing back through!

Glad you were able to enjoy the area!

Doug said...


I appreciate the invite. Next time we get out that way I will take you up on it (especially if it's hunting season).

The same holds true if you make it out to the East Coast. We're smack in the middle and I'm always looking for excuses to go hunting.