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A Beginner’s Guide to Mushroom Hunting in Colorado

Mushroom hunting is a popular activity in Colorado, and for good reason. The state is home to a wide variety of wild edible mushrooms, including porcini, chanterelles, morels, hawkswings and more. In this article, we will discuss a few “need to knows” about mushroom hunting in Colorado, including when to go, where to find mushrooms, and the benefits of this hobby.

Here is a quick run-down of mushroom hunting opportunities you might enjoy in the New Castle area while camping at Elk Creek Campground.

Season for Hunting 

The mushroom hunting season in Colorado typically begins in April and lasts through September, but the peak of mushroom activity is usually in August. It’s important to pay attention to the weather because mushrooms like damp conditions. Weeks of “normal” rainfall are an indicator for a good season. And a week or two after a warm, heavy rain is an excellent time to go mushroom hunting.

Permits

In Colorado, you need a permit to collect mushrooms on state or federal lands. You can obtain these permits at any USFS ranger station. The cost of the permit varies by location and is often free. Be sure to check the specific rules and regulations for the area where you plan to hunt, as some areas may have additional restrictions or require different permits.

Popular Mushrooms

Colorado is home to many wild edible mushrooms, but four of the most popular are porcini, chanterelles, morels, and hawkswings.

Porcini mushrooms are a type of wild mushroom that grow in the forests of Colorado. They are typically found in August and September, and they have a rich, meaty flavor that makes them a popular ingredient in many dishes. Look for them in and around the forest openings of mixed conifer forests above 9,500 ft, especially near Engelmann Spruce.

Chanterelle mushrooms are another popular variety found in Colorado. They have a delicate, fruit forward flavor and a bright, golden color. They are typically found in August and September, and they grow in moist, shaded areas. They prefer the edges of the forest in the same habitat as described for porcini.

Morels are a popular and well-known type of wild mushroom. They have a distinct, earthy flavor and a cone-shaped cap. They are typically found in May and June, and grow in riparian areas, particularly around cottonwood trees. Later in the season they can be found at higher elevations in and around aspen trees.

Hawkswings are a lesser-known type of wild mushroom found in Colorado. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are typically found in August and September. Look for them in the same habitats as porcini and chanterelles.

Benefits of Mushroom Hunting

Mushroom hunting is not just about finding food; it also offers many other benefits. For one, it allows you to enjoy the great outdoors and explore the mountains of Colorado. You can make a day of it by hiking to your favorite mushroom-hunting spot and enjoying the beautiful views along the way. Additionally, mushroom hunting can be a great way to bond with friends and family, as it requires teamwork and communication to find and collect the mushrooms. Finally, there is something deeply satisfying about finding and collecting your own food from the wild. Mushroom hunting is a sustainable and eco-friendly way to obtain fresh, organic food that is free from harmful chemicals and additives. However, it’s important to remember that not all mushrooms are safe to eat, and some can be toxic. Always do your research and consult with an expert before consuming any wild mushrooms. Happy mushroom hunting!

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