Critter cam photo of an elk

Working as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service, I would frequently get asked the following question:

“What’s the best time of the day to see wildlife?”

In the mountains, my answer frequently disappointed.

“Honestly, most of our wildlife are most active at night.”

In fact, one night as I drove back to Sequoia National park around midnight, I saw all kinds of interesting wildlife — a black bear, raccoons, deer, and even tarantulas.  A friend of mine once went on midnight hike along the High Sierra Trail during a full moon, and saw not just one, but two mountain lions.

It’s much the same here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where the mountain lions, coyotes, elk, moose, bobcat and other wildlife are at their most active during the darkness.  But the problem is that I am not so active outside at night, and of course, can’t see what’s out there except for the glowing orbs of their eyes.

But a great way to get a glimpse of all that animal activity is installing a critter cam, or a wildlife camera.  When we first moved to Nederland, we didn’t even know what that was.  But my father-in-law came to visit us our first summer and the very next Christmas, we got an interesting box from

In the box were all the tools to install our wildlife camera.  Our next quandary was where to put it.

Having noticed several deer grazing near our septic field, we decided on that as the best location.  Good thing for me, I have a husband who is handy with doing home improvement, as he dutifully unpacked the camera and installed it on the tree.

The camera takes photos whenever there is movement in front of it and stores them on an SD card, much like a digital camera.  Periodically we bring the card in, download the photos on our computer and check out our four-legged visitors.

It’s amazing how many critters use our property as a feeding place or just to pass through on their way to somewhere else.  Even during weeks when it has seemed quiet and I haven’t seen any wildlife during the day, the critter cam shows a completely different story.

Tonight, we looked through the last three weeks, seeing coyotes, herds of elk, moose, and bobcats.  Our very own Wild Kingdom is going on each night just a few feet from our house.

If you want to know who’s sharing your habitat with you, I highly recommend putting up your own critter cam.  You’ll be surprised by what you see.