Mesa Verde National Park Feature
Flora and Fauna
Many areas of the park have extensive fire damage. In fact, wildfires here have been so destructive they are given names, just like hurricanes. The Bircher Fire in 2000 consumed 20,000 acres of brush and forest. It will take several centuries for the woodland to look as verdant as the area atop Chapin Mesa. But in the meantime, you'll have a chance to glimpse nature's powerful rejuvenating processes in action; the landscape is already filling in with vegetation specially adapted to thrive in a post-fire environment.
During warmer months you'll see brightly colored blossoms, like the yellow perky Sue, sage, yucca, and mountain mahogany. Sand-loving blue lupines are seen along the roadways in the higher elevations, and bright-red Indian paintbrushes are scattered throughout the rocky cliffs.
Drive slowly along the park's roads; mule deer are everywhere. You may spot wild horses grazing, and black bear encounters are not unheard of on the hiking trails. About 200 species of birds, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and noisy ravens live here. Keep your eyes and ears open for the poisonous—but shy—prairie rattle snake. Animals are most active in the early morning and at dusk.
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's