Wildlife Watching at Eleven Mile State Park
Eleven Mile State Park is located within the Rocky Mountains, about an hour and a half from Colorado Springs. As its name suggests, the park rests 11 miles from the town of Lake George. The Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir runs through the park, providing countless fishing opportunities. In addition, people visit this state park to enjoy a wide range of activities, including camping, hiking, kayaking, and photography.
However, wildlife watching is one of the most extraordinary activities the park has to offer. Like many places in Colorado, Eleven Mile State Park is truly a magical place to observe wildlife. Chipmunks, numerous species of birds, pronghorn, and roaming donkeys all live nearby.
Least Chipmunks, Mountain Bluebirds, Pronghorn, and Roaming Donkeys
Although commonly mistaken for one another, both chipmunks and ground squirrels reside here. Visitors commonly observe golden-mantled ground squirrels and least chipmunks throughout the land. Here’s a tip for spotting the difference between these two species: ground squirrels are generally larger than chipmunks and don’t display stripes on their head.
Eleven Mile State Park is also an excellent place for birdwatching. Numerous species of birds, including the beautiful mountain bluebird, inhabit the park. In addition to the mountain bluebird, you can observe American white pelicans, bald eagles, northern harriers, and more. For a full list of bird species found here, check out the Eleven Mile State Park Bird List, provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
In addition to birdwatching, the park also offers opportunities to see wild pronghorn. Pronghorn are one of the most magnificent species of animals found in North America and are the second fastest land mammal in the world. Although these antelope look like they belong on a safari, they are native to Colorado. Visitors can occasionally observe pronghorn within the park. However, people more commonly see pronghorn along San Juan St and HWY 24, which border the state park.
Finally, visitors have the opportunity to see roaming donkeys. Even though donkeys are typically domesticated, a herd of about five donkeys run free just outside the park. Like pronghorn, donkeys graze in the pastures near San Juan St, on the way to Hartsel.
Friendly Reminder to Observe Wildlife at a Distance
Sadly, a fast moving vehicle struck and killed two donkeys that were a part of this herd in 2019. Even though the vehicle was going the speed limit, it’s important to proceed with caution when driving near Eleven Mile State Park. Roaming donkeys and other wildlife commonly stand in the middle of the road and don’t have enough time to move to safety when a vehicle is approaching.
Although the donkeys and other wildlife may seem cute and cuddly, wild animals are unpredictable. Colorado Parks and Wildlife warns visitors not to approach, feed, or touch any wildlife near the park. For the safety of you and the animals, it’s best to observe wildlife at a distance.
Visit Eleven Mile State Park
To sum up, Eleven Mile State Park is an excellent place for wildlife watching. Visitors can observe an abundance of birds, pronghorn, and even wild donkeys. If you’re interested in another opportunity to see wildlife during your visit, be sure to check out the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, located 35 minutes from the park.
Even if you aren’t a wildlife enthusiast, the park offers numerous other activities. Individuals can enjoy boating, camping, fishing, kayaking, and wildlife photography. The park is operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, therefore, an entrance fee of $9 per vehicle is required. You also have the option to purchase an Annual Affixed Vehicle Park Pass for $80, which gives you and anyone in your vehicle unlimited free access to all state parks in Colorado for one year. For more information, check out the resources provided below.