Mushroom Hunters Guide
Colorado Morels DO exist. When I found my first one, I had already put in a couple hundred hours of tramping around in the woods. I created this guide to help others find Colorado Morels. They are by far the tastiest mushroom I’ve ever had.
This is your first step to finding the elusive mushroom. They don’t call it mushroom HUNTING just for shits and giggles. You literally have to go hunt for this mushroom, and know what you’re looking for. It’s almost more important to know what you’re NOT looking for. If you’ve been scanning the ground all day, be prepared when you go to sleep to see little morels when you close your eyes.
With a little bit of help, this is a hobby that can be simple, enjoyable, delicious and addicting. Just remember, “there are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”
Remember, always consult the advice and experience of a mycologist or mushroom group prior to eating any wild mushroom. Never, under ANY circumstances eat any wild mushroom unless you are 110% certain what it is.
Flora and Fungi play an integral role in the biodiversity of the Rocky Mountains. In this guide, you will find some tips and facts about finding morel mushrooms in Colorado.
1. The season for Colorado Morels:
- Blond Morel (Morchella Esculentoids) Late April to Early May
- Black Morel (Morchella Brunnuea) Late May to Late June
2. Elevation for finding Colorado Morels:
- After June 1, 2017 above 7500′ in elevation. Wait for a nice few days of rain and then check your spots. Typically near pine trees.
3. If Oregon Grape is flowering you can be assured that yellow and black morels are around.
4. Aspen leaves are the size of a quarter
5. Soil temperatures are between 45 and 50 degrees
6. Daytime temperatures reach 60 degrees and night time temperatures are at a steady 40 degrees
7. Trees to look for: Apple, Ash, Aspen, Cottonwood, Elm, Oak, and Pine.
8. They prefer disturbed ground, often appearing in areas that have experienced a fire
9. Idiom: If lilacs are in bloom go look for the Morel mushroom
10. A great place to look is in areas of disturbed ground. Mycelia produce mushrooms in response to environmental stress, so morels are often found around forest edges, along rivers, and burn areas.
11. Soil composition is another thing to consider. I often find them in loamy soil, meaning a mixture of clay, sand, and decaying organic matter.
12. Don’t specifically ask someone where to find morels, go find your own. Typically give someone elevation, and surrounding flora. Anything more specific than that, and you can kiss your precious spot goodbye.
Because finding Morel Mushrooms in Colorado is so addicting, say goodbye to your family until early July. Although, some species of morel have been spotted as late as August.
The smell of spring means the elusive morel mushroom is hiding on a mountain near you. There are various indicator species that can give you clues as to whether the area you are searching is prime for morels or not. If you see a bear, you should probably pretend your dead and as soon as it leaves, you need to get the hell out of there.
*Before consuming any type of wild mushroom, it is crucial that you consult with a local expert. This can save your life and your liver. There are resources available at your local university, mushroom club, or mycological society.
Don’t take the FUN out of FUNGI by eating mushrooms that you’re not sure of. If you’re 110% sure of the species, it’s a good idea just to cook a small portion and to eat a small bit (tablespoon). Wait 24 hours, and see how you feel. If you’re not careful you can mess up your GI track or even worse, die. Don’t get a Darwin Award.
There are ethical ways to obtain your prize. If you’re not sure what you’re picking, only collect a few mushrooms. There is no point in collecting buckets of mushrooms if you’re just going to throw them away.
Pick up a field guide and try to identify the mushroom yourself. If you’d like help, take multiple pictures from multiple angles. Specify the type of area in which it was collected, take note of the trees nearby, and collect only a few entire specimens.
As a rule of thumb, leave ten to thirty percent of the mushroom species that you find. This ensures that the spores will get dispersed and ensure future fruiting.
With practice, you will become familiar with the fruiting bodies you are looking for. You will then be able to cut off at the base of the stem, or (gently) pull out the entire fruiting body from the substrate, this keeps the mycelium disturbance to a minimum.
Consequently, in the mushroom world, there is a heated debate as to which of those tactics is best (cutting or pulling), and the truth is, there isn’t one.
Always make sure to see what permits and licenses you may need to hunt in certain areas. The U.S. Forest Service is a great place to start.
Recommended Resources for Colorado Morels:
- Active Fire Mapping Program
- 2016 Morel Sightings Map
- Google Map of Morel Mushroom Finds
- Soil Temperature Map
- Mushrooms of the Rocky Mountain Region
- All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms
- Mushrooms Demystified