North Park . . . definitely wild, definitely!
Take one high, flat valley ringed by jagged peaks, fill it with rich sage brush country and extensive wetlands, and sit back and watch an amazing variety of seasonal and year round wildlife enjoy life in “their” NORTH PARK paradise. Renowned stateside and worldwide as a wildlife magnet, the secret places and “natural” preserves of Colorado’s Jackson County provide birders and wildlife enthusiasts a bountiful land where people are in the minority.
Armed with its state-awarded title, “Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado”, North Park is also touted as the best place in Colorado to see lekking Greater Sage-Grouse, breeding colonies of waterbirds – including the elusive Boreal Owl, and, in winter, all three species of Rosy-Finch and even Gyrfalcons. Too numerous to mention here, the feathered, finned, and furred “wild things” that populate North Park’s pristine environment are photographs and memories waiting to be realized.
A few prime viewing spots!
For more detailed information visit www.cpw.state.co.us
Cameron Pass – Famous for night birding, Boreal Owls have been spotted in early spring. Forest areas: American three-toed Woodpecker; Golden-crowned Kinglet. Roadside/trails: Moose; Bighorn Sheep.
American Lakes – Beneath Nokhu Crags: Brown-capped Rosy-Finch; Pika.
Moose Visitor’s Center – Finches, including Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch and Pine Grosbeak.
Jackson County Road 30 – Roadside: Veery during summer months in willows between Hwy 14 and Meadow Creek Reservoir (private); in sage, lodgepole and willow habitats – Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, American Dipper; Moose.
Walden Reservoir – Varieties include dabblers, divers, shorebirds, gulls, terns and waders, and raptors. Breeding area of American White Pelican, Black Tern, and Franklin’s and California Gulls.
Cowdrey Lake State Wildlife Area (CO125 to CR39) – Small lake attracts geese, diving ducks, and loons in fall. Breeding area for Lincoln’s Sparrow in thick vegetation. Visit the official webpage
Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge – Small ponds attract waterfowl and shorebirds. Marshes: Short-eared Owl; Yellow-headed Blackbird. Along auto tour route: Greater Sage-Grouse; Moose. Check out the official website.
MacFarlane Reservoir (CO125 to CR28 to unimproved road on right) – Closed for access until August 15, high-clearance vehicles recommended. Lake: Ducks and other waterbirds; American White Pelican breeding area; Raptors; Elk are common; Moose.
Willow Creek Pass – Woodpeckers in beetle-kill area; Fox Sparrows in willows. More info on the Wiki page
Hebron Waterfowl Area (along CR34) – Shallow ponds attract ducks, shorebirds, and terns. Good spot for viewing a variety of dabblers, American Avocet, Black Tern, Greater Sage-Grouse, and Raptors along road.
Seymour Lake State Wildlife Area (CO14 to CR11 to CR11A) – Small Reservoir: Greater Sage-Grouse, especially mid-morning during lekking season. Visit the official webpage
Lake John State Wildlife Area (CO125/14 to CR12W to CR7) – Relatively deep lake attracts diving ducks. Sage Flats: Greater Sage-Grouse; Sage Thrasher; Raptors, including Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon; short-tailed Weasel. Visit the official webpage
Delaney Butte Lakes State Wildlife Area (CO125/14 to CR12W to CR18 to CR22) – Three lakes, especially the north lake, attract waterbirds. Riparian corridor/fields to south: Short-eared and Great Horned Owls; most accessible Greater Sage-Grouse lek – visit in spring months. Observe lek etiquette: arrive before dawn, use vehicle as blind, leave after birds leave. Visit the official webpage
Buffalo Pass (CO14 to CR24) – Dusky Grouse, especially on North Park side; American three-toed Woodpeckers; Olive-sided Flycatcher; Gray Jay; Golden-crowned Kinglet; Swainson’s Thrush. Visit the official webpage
Wildlife Viewing Tips
- Be the observer, not the observed: wear natural colors, unscented lotion, avoid glasses that glint, walk softly, hide behind natural barriers.
- Be ready to snap that picture: a 400 mm lens-plus is best, keep sun at your back, feature wildlife in its surroundings.
- Be “animal” courteous: avoid “publicizing” nests and baby animals, don’t share your food.
- Be aware: use all you senses when seeking wildlife encounters, use peripheral vision, look above and below as you walk.