Monday, February 11, 2013

Barr Lake State Park; A Bird Watcher's Paradise.

Colorado is home to several pairs of bald eagles that stay year round. However, the primary viewing season for bald eagles is January through April. Around mid-February the eagles start to lay their eggs and guard their nests for their eaglets.

One place that I enjoy watching bald eagles perch, nest and soar is Barr Lake State Park. Within the park is a wildlife refuge where many species of birds and wildlife are thriving. Be aware that separate rules govern the refuge area (e.g. dogs are prohibited within this part of the park, etc.). Barr Lake State Park is a bird watchers paradise! During the appropriate times of year you can expect to find eagles, hawks, great horned owls, and even osprey!

(Above: Two bald eagles sit atop a cottonwood tree)

From May to September the Eagle Express can carry up to 13 passengers on a naturalist guided tour of the refuge. Make your reservations today! Or plan to come and trek around on your own. Don't forget your binoculars and camera's for some spectacular wildlife viewing!

(Above: hawk feeding on carrion. Below: hundreds of Canadian Geese fly from one side of the lake to another.)
(Below: a creative way to display some hay.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lily Lake and Lily Mountain Trail

Upon a recent visit to Estes Park, a local referred me to Lily Mountain Trailhead. This mountain hike borders Rocky Mountain National Park and is right next to Lily Lake (located within the NPS borders). One of the many great things about this hike is that it is dog friendly...although your dog must remain on the leash (according to the sign). [Sidenote: I recently bought a dog and have since realized that there are not any National Parks (that I know of) where dogs are welcome due to trying to preserve the land and the safety of wildlife. So, the fact that I can hike right next to the NPS with my dog was a HUGE delight!]. Anyway, the Lily Mountain trail meanders up and around to a beautiful panoramic view of Estes Park. There are many rock outcrops and beautiful evergreen trees along the way. After you hike enjoy a picnic at Lily Lake!

Last year, 2012, Rocky Mountain National Park partnered with National Geographic for the annual Bioblitz. Lily Lake was one of the lakes sampled for aquatic macroinvertebrates. And of course, plenty of lively creatures thrive in this pristine lake....which makes for great fly fishing if you are interested! Apparently, the more diverse sample of aquatic species indicates the level of health of an area. Conclusion: the Lily Lake area is thriving with healthy wildlife--nature that is seen and even unseen with the naked eye.

So, the next time you visit the Estes Park area check out Lily Lake and Lily Mountain Trail.

Estes Park; My Home Away From Home.

I never get tired of visiting Estes Park. It is the first place I longed to visit when I first moved to Denver ten years ago. And it is the place where I continue to return.

 My fascination with Estes (the nickname used by many Coloradoans) began when my parents shared that it was a camping spot they used on their first road trip together back in the 70's. As a child of divorce, I treasure tiny nuggets of my parents lost nostalgia...and therefore believe I was drawn to Rocky Mountain National Park like a lost camper retracing their steps.

Nowadays, I come back month after month simply to be, to rest, to play. It is a familiar stomping ground of which I have grown quite fond of its beauty, wildlife, and amenities.

There are alot of other places in Colorado I still want to explore. But when I need a quick, refreshing, intimate getaway I continue to return to Estes Park.

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