No, Rocky Mountain National Park is not the home of a migratory herd of wild horses, but we are the home to a small, hard-working domestic herd of horses and mules. These animals work their summers in Rocky Mountain National Park, and spend their winters at Fort Laramie National Historic Site just north of the park in Wyoming. Because of Rocky Mountain National Park's altitude and severe winter climate, it is difficult to keep horses and mules in top condition over winter. Thus, we work with our sister park to keep our animals in the best shape, while providing authenticity to the historic fort's environs. Fort Laramie once defended the frontier while being a crossroads for pioneers moving west. As such, it would have been the home of many horses and mules.
During the winter, the animals mainly spend their time eating and loafing. They get necessary veterinary care like paste worming and regionally specific West Nile Virus vaccinations. When they return to Rocky Mountain National Park, they will have their feet and manes trimmed and will get new shoes.
Horses and mules have about a 20 to 30 year working career. New horses may be added as older horses and jules will b moved to other, lower altitude parks or other agencies.
In the spring, park staff start the process of conditioning the returning animals to the rigors of high altitude work over several days to a few weeks. The full herd size is approximately 11 horses and 11 mules on the east side of the park, and five horses on the west side.
Last updated: March 31, 2012