Denver, Colorado

Photograph Bison at the Rocky Mountain National Arsenal Wildlife Refuge

9 Miles Total - Loop Trail

Originally added by Tsalani Lassiter

See and experience the largest animal in North America. Watch Bison graze and roam freely during all 4 seasons and photograph them from your car.

Bison are the largest and heaviest land animals in North America. They are a symbol of a wild and free landscape. Despite their size these big beasts are extremely agile. They can run up to 35 miles per hour and jump 6ft high from a stand still. Very few animals pose a threat to a healthy, fully grown, adult bison.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is just minutes away from the Denver metropolitan area and a great place to see these animals up close. The Arsenal was once a WWII chemical weapons plant. The facility closed in 1992 and today its 15,000 acres serves as a protected home for  100s of wild animals including bald eagles, prairie dogs, and of course a herd of about 150 bison. These bison play an essential role in restoring the prairie habitat and managing native vegetation. Their grazing benefits soil nutrition and plant growth creating a healthier ecosystem.

*Note: Bison may appear tame and docile, but they are still wild animals that require respect. If they are agitated or threatened by onlookers, they will defend themselves by charging and/or kicking. If you notice their tails are pointed upwards and wagging, or if they are rolling around the dirt to create dust clouds, back away and give them space. Always observe bison from a distance as these are powerful wild animals who have been known to attack spectators. 

  • Viewing Area - 

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is located behind Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO.  From I-70 turn north on Quebec Street and drive 2.8 miles to Prairie Parkway. Turn right and travel 0.6 miles to Gateway Road. Turn left and continue a half mile to the refuge entrance. The refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset and most of all, admission to the refuge is free. Besides the main 9 mile auto loop, there are a few side roads you can take. If you don’t see any bison the first time around, try a different area. If you are lucky, you may see them right along the road or even running down the field. Just remember to stay in your vehicle!

  • What you need -

For your safety as well as the Bison you should remain in your vehicle. If you want to get a good photo be sure to bring a DSLR / mirrorless camera and a telephoto lens (70-200, 100-400mm, 600mm). Having binoculars may help to spot them if they are. Don’t worry too much about bringing a tripod, as you should be staying inside your vehicle. You may be out there for quite some time marveling at all their glorious features, so bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you replenished.

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildlife

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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