10 Most Dangerous Animals that Live in the Rocky Mountains

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: August 21, 2022
Image Credit Michael Liggett/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

The Rocky Mountains are the largest mountain system in North America, measuring 3,000 miles (4,800 km). Experts say that the mountains were formed some 55 to 80 million years ago. Its creation is said to have occurred during the Laramide orogeny. The mountains start from northern Alberta and British Columbia in Canada and head down south to the United States’ New Mexico.

The Rocky Mountains are known for much more than size and age, however. They are known to accommodate some of the most dangerous animals known to man. Discover 10 of the most dangerous animals that live in the Rocky Mountains.

Most Dangerous Animals Living in the Rocky Mountains

Western Rattlesnake

Western rattlesnakes have mixtures of brick red, brown, yellow, and pinkish or yellowish-white or off-white on their base skin.

Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

Despite the size of the Rocky Mountains, only one venomous snake can be found in its lands; the western rattlesnake. Western rattlesnakes are venomous pit vipers that measure around 4 feet in length as adults. These snakes have triangular heads and dark diamond-shaped patterns running along their backs.

Western rattlesnakes also have mixtures of brick red, brown, yellow, and pinkish or yellowish-white or off-white on their base skin. They also have two dark diagonal lines that run down to their jaws from their eyes. These snakes have solenoglyphous fangs and hemotoxic venom which induces hemorrhaging and attacks blood vessels and cells.  Also called prairie rattlesnakes, this species is commonly found in locations below 8,000 feet in elevation.

Moose

Animals in Norway
Unlike other animals in the deer family, moose are solitary creatures who prefer to live alone.

iStock.com/pum_eva

Moose were initially found in the upper parts of the Rocky Mountains but have since extended their reach southwards in the mountain’s western parts. These elks are one of the heaviest species in the deer family and feed only on terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Unlike other animals in the deer family, moose are solitary creatures who prefer to live alone. They can be extremely violent to humans that come near, especially if they have babies.

White-Tailed Deer  

A white-tailed deer standing in a meadow
A white-tailed deer standing in a meadow.

Paul Tessier/Shutterstock.com

White-tailed deer are found in the eastern and lower foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Like most wild deer, this species is considered dangerous because it isn’t uncommon for them to gorge or at least attempt to gorge people to death. If you’re driving along the Rocky Mountains, watch out for these animals as deer are known to cost car owners nearly one billion dollars each year on vehicular damages.

American Bison

Bearded Animals
While bison have poor eyesight, they have excellent senses of smell and hearing.

iStock.com/Jillian Cooper

Often called buffalos, American bison are found in parts of the Rocky Mountains. They are wild and unpredictable and have been known to charge without warning. These animals weigh thousands of pounds on average but feed only on plants. Bison have two different coats, depending on the current weather.

Their longer and shaggier coats are best suited for winter when they need all the warmth that they can get. Their summer coats are much lighter and have a lighter color shade. Bison are highly sought after for their wool, dairy, and hide- as well as their meat.

Wolf

wolf staring
Wild wolves are not friendly and avoid humans as much as they can.

Paul Aparicio/Shutterstock.com

Wolves are wild carnivorous mammals famed for their hunting abilities. Generally, wolves can have fur with a wide range of colors. However, wolves found in the Rocky Mountains are generally black, bluish-gray, or silver. Although these animals rarely attack humans, they are dangerous and have been twice recorded to have killed humans.

Wild wolves are not friendly and avoid humans as much as they can. However, they do not offer the same courtesy to our pets. Wolves have been known to attack dogs even in the presence of their owners. A domesticated dog is no match for a wild wolf, so if you’re around the Rocky Mountains with your pet, watch out for wolves.

Black Bears

Black bears
Black Bear- Ursus americanus.

BGSmith/Shutterstock.com

Factually, bears are some of the most aggressive mammals known to man. American black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears are just some species known to attack humans.

In the Rocky Mountains, one of the most commonly spotted species is the black bear. However, only 50% of Rocky Mountain’s black bears are actually black. Some of them could be tan, blonde, light brown, or other colors that allow them to be mistaken for grizzly bears. One fun fact about black bears is that pregnant female black bears are awoken from hibernation by going into labor.

Recluse Spider

Nick626/Shutterstock.com

Recluse spiders are known to have more venom than many snakes. The species, which is found in many parts of America, is small-sized and prefers to feed on already-dead prey. Recluse spiders aren’t known to exceed 0.79 inches. As their name implies, these spiders are very reclusive and avoid company. They can survive for months without any food or water. They are also really fast with incredible eyesight.

Black Widow Spider

Black Widow - Dangerous Spider
Unlike other black widows, northern black widows have a broken hourglass-shaped marking on their abdomens.

Porco_Rosso/Shutterstock.com

Black widows are another species of venomous spiders found in the Rocky Mountains. Not only do they have stronger venom than rattlesnakes but female black widows tend to eat their mates. Due to their venom yield, bites from these snakes aren’t usually fatal. However, it is important to get immediate medical help. Some symptoms of black widow spider bites are pain, swelling, muscle cramps, and many more. Generally, black widows are reclusive spiders who prefer to stay hidden and do not bite unless threatened.

Yellow Jackets

What do yellowjackets eat - Yellowjacket eating salmon

Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com

Yellow jackets are also called social wasps and can be easily identified by their markings and side-to-side flight pattern. These insects are found in various parts of the Rocky Mountains. Female yellow jackets are more dangerous than their male counterparts since all females can sting. The males mostly work as drones and do not have stingers.  

Ticks

The Gulf Coast Tick
Ticks are known to carry many diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) which can kill within 8 days.

iStock.com/cturtletrax

Notorious for being dangerous and hard to kill, ticks are arachnids found in various parts of the Rocky Mountains. These animals attach themselves to other animals and then begin to suck their blood. Ticks are known to carry many diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) which can kill within 8 days. These arachnids are capable of causing serious illnesses in pets. In animals, the RMSF disease can lead to paralysis. It can also lead to painful and swollen joints.

If you come across any of these wild animals, remember that leaving them alone and respecting their boundaries is the only way to stay safe while respecting wildlife and nature. Each animal is important and has a role to play in our ecosystem.

Up Next…

Moose Size Comparison - Moose in Field

Michael Liggett/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.