Moose were not historically native to Colorado, but their presence in the state can be traced back to the 1970s. In an effort to restore the moose population and enhance the state’s biodiversity, wildlife officials introduced a small number of moose from Wyoming and Utah to the state’s western regions. Over the years, these transplants thrived and gradually expanded their range into new areas, including parts of Boulder County.

Today, moose can be found in several locations near Boulder, offering nature enthusiasts an opportunity to observe these majestic creatures up close. One popular spot is Brainard Lake Recreation Area, located about an hour’s drive west of Boulder. It stands out as the ultimate moose viewing spot. Its pristine natural beauty, at an elevation of 10,300 feet, provides a serene habitat for these majestic creatures.

The lake’s proximity to subalpine meadows and dense forests creates an ideal moose habitat. Visitors are treated to breathtaking vistas and a chance to witness moose grazing, wading in the water, or strolling through the marshes. With a bit of luck, one might even spot a mother moose with her adorable calf. Brainard Lake’s unique blend of tranquil wilderness and abundant wildlife makes it a prime destination for moose enthusiasts near Boulder.

a lake surrounded by trees and grass

Safety should always be a priority when encountering wildlife, particularly moose, as they can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Here are some essential safety tips:

  1. Maintain a safe distance: Keep at least 50 yards (45 meters) away from moose. Never approach them or try to feed them.
  2. Stay alert: Look out for signs of moose activity, such as tracks or droppings. Be cautious when exploring areas with dense vegetation, as moose can blend in easily.
  3. Observe from a safe location: Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to view moose from a distance. Avoid blocking their path or getting between a moose and its calf.
  4. Respect their space: If you notice a moose showing signs of agitation, such as raised hackles or swaying its head, slowly back away and give it more space.
  5. Keep dogs under control: Dogs can provoke moose, leading to potentially dangerous situations. Keep dogs leashed and under control at all times.
  6. Be cautious during the rutting season: In the fall, male moose can become aggressive while competing for mates. Give them extra space and avoid disturbing them during this time.


Remember that moose are wild animals and should be admired from a distance. Observing them responsibly ensures their well-being and your safety.

To get to Brainard Lake from Boulder, you can follow these directions:

  1. Start by heading west on Canyon Boulevard (State Highway 119) from downtown Boulder.
  2. Continue on Highway 119 for approximately 15 miles until you reach the town of Nederland.
  3. In Nederland, turn left onto County Road 130 (also known as the Peak-to-Peak Highway).
  4. Follow County Road 130 for about 13 miles until you reach the Brainard Lake Recreation Area entrance.
  5. Pay the entrance fee, if applicable, and continue driving on the paved road for approximately 5 miles until you reach Brainard Lake.

Note that during winter months, the road to Brainard Lake may be closed or restricted due to snow. It’s advisable to check road conditions and closures before making the trip.

In conclusion, moose have established a presence in Colorado, including areas near Boulder. Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a notable location to spot these magnificent creatures. However, always prioritize safety by maintaining a distance, staying alert, respecting their space, and keeping dogs under control. Enjoy observing moose responsibly and contribute to their conservation efforts.


green trees near snow covered mountain during daytime