Quirky Attraction: Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area

georgetown bighorn sheep viewing area

Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area
Location: Georgetown, Colorado
When to visit: Any time during daylight hours (late fall/early winter is peak viewing season)
Cost: Free to visit, but quarters are needed to use the telescopes
Time needed: 15-30 minutes
Website: https://www.facebook.com/georgetownbighorns/

On my big road trip two years ago, Yellowstone was the highlight for wildlife, but there was one creature I failed to see in that grand park – the bighorn sheep. Sheep are sometimes referred to as “the rock stars of the Rockies.” With an awesome title like that, how can you not want to see them?!

So while driving past Denver just a week after Yellowstone, I was excited to see a bighorn sheep viewing spot in Georgetown. Be aware, this is not a peaceful nature experience. The viewing center is next to a highway, and you actually look across to the other side of the highway at the top of the mountains, so you’ll be putting up with the rumbling of hundreds of vehicles. You can try spotting sheep with the naked eye, but chances are you’ll need to use the scopes at the center, which offer a few minutes of viewing for a quarter.

colorado bighorns

I was there during the middle of the afternoon in the summer – the worst time of day and time of year to see sheep. After 10 minutes of looking through the scope, I was about to give up, when I suddenly saw something move against the rocks. It was my first bighorn sheep sighting ever! Within five minutes, I spotted three more sheep close by. They were lying down and were hard to see until they moved.

There are four bighorn sheep in this photograph, in the rocks on the upper right. I know you can’t see them, but trust me, they are there!

georgetown bighorn sheep mountains

Even if there are no sheep present when you visit, the pavilion gives some good information to educate visitors about bighorn sheep. One poster depicts the full life cycle of a sheep.

Ewes usually give birth to one lamb between May and July. Small groups of female sheep and their young spend the summer together, growing and finding food. Male sheep (rams) tend to spend the summer together in their own groups. In late fall, the “rut” begins as males fight each other for the right to mate with the females.

Ewes begin mating around age 2. Sheep can survive to be 10-15 years old if they can stand the harsh, snowy winters. Cool!

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Revisiting the Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area in Colorado, 2018

UPDATE: On another recent trip through the Denver area, I found myself back at the sheep viewing area, so I stopped by again. The second trip wasn’t as successful. I didn’t see any bighorn sheep this time around. Oh well, you can’t get lucky every time.

If you really want to see sheep in Georgetown, stop by during the annual Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival, which takes place in November. There, you can celebrate with lots of other sheep enthusiasts and take part in hikes, craft activities, and group sheep viewing events.

It looks like a fun, quirky event. I commend the folks in Georgetown for their efforts to market and publicize their sheep and try to bring in tourists for the event!

22 Comments

  1. Thanks for the info. We drove within 5 or 10 feet of a ram on the shoulder of the interstate about a year ago. We’re gonna stop at the viewing site in August, as part of our pilgrimage from Nebraska to our son’s place in Glenwood Springs.

  2. My wife and I were there in May of last year. We spent about half an hour looking for bighorns through binoculars and the pay scopes, but saw nothing. A bit disappointed we continued on our way west on HWY 70. After we passed by Georgetown, where the highway curves to the right, there were two HUGE bighorns standing right next to the road eating some grass. I pointed and exclaimed “HOLY S***!”. We had the windows down and the bighorn must have heard me because he stopped eating and looked directly at us as we drove by.

    1. Wow, cool! I’ve heard stories that sometimes they come down along the highway. The people who live in Georgetown apparently get up-close sightings all the time. That’s a great story.

  3. We have something similar to this near Calgary in Kananaskis Provincial Park, I always take visitors there who want to see wildlife see I see the bighorn sheep there at least 80% of the time, much better odds than most places.

    1. I believe if someone with super high tech equipment were to analyze the photograph, they could spot them against the rocks!

  4. That’s a cool story! Sometimes being patient is the key when trying to spot wildlife. I’ve encountered similar situations where I was just about to give up but then finally spotted something.

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