Few other places in North America offer such a bounty of wildlife-watching opportunities as Colorado. And the state’s rivers, being such an incredible water source, tend to attract quite a number of animals.

On your next rafting trip, keep an eye out for the animals below. They are just a few of the critters you might spot as you’re floating along. Bringing binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens will help ensure you see a creature, big or small.

Big Horn Sheep

The Bighorn Sheep is Colorado’s official mammal, and the Centennial State is home to the largest population anywhere. They’re often found along canyon walls though are quite well camouflaged against the rock.

The size of the horns on a ram indicates rank, and a pair of horns can measure as long as 50 inches in length and weigh up to 30 lbs. Herds are commonly viewed along The Numbers and Pine Creek sections of the Arkansas River, just north of Buena Vista, and in Bighorn Sheep Canyon, just west of Canon City.


Bald eagles, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and ospreys are some of the most common birds you’ll see over Colorado’s river. They hover high above the water, searching for trout and small mammals to eat.


The Arkansas River is known worldwide for its gold medal fishing waters. Whether you’re fishing from a raft or along the peaceful shoreline, chances are good you’ll bag your fill of brown and rainbow trout.

Black Bear

The most familiar of these animals, black bears are Colorado’s largest carnivores.  Despite their name, they can also be light brown or even blond in color