Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of much larger organisms, fungi, that live predominantly underground or in decaying organic matter. The body of the fungus is dispersed through the soil or wood as a mass (called a mycelium) of interconnected white threads called hyphae. Fungi are saprophytic (make their living by decomposing organic matter with a powerful arsenal of enzymes) or, in a few cases, parasitic.

Many different types of mushrooms occur in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fairy rings are large circles of mushrooms found commonly in woodlands. All the mushrooms in the circle come from one organism, just like a stem of penstemon flowers come from one plant. As the hyphae expand over decades, the fairy ring enlarges. Coral fungi are attractive and delicate fungi found on decaying wood in the park. They break down the tough cellulose in the wood and help to return the nutrients from dead trees to the soil. Amanitas are striking mushrooms common in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fully mature amanitas are easy for most people to recognize with the aid of a mushroom guide, immature amanitas can be mistaken for edible mushrooms. The majority of fatal mushroom poisonings come from people eating amanitas. Brain mushrooms are often mistaken for morels (also called false morels) and can cause illness if consumed.

Please remember that it is not legal for you to collect mushrooms in Rocky Mountain National Park. Please take pictures and memories and leave our resources untouched.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


(970) 586-1206
Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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