Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Yampa River Valley - Medicine Bow Routt NF

SO I'm back home in SC it's hot n humid as expected but what was not expected is my A/C unit not working! So I spent my first day back dealing with that.

Anywho I'm back a wee bit earlier than planned due to the Nation Wide Heat Wave! Man the dogs were miserable and so was I with only fans in our camper/van...and the birds were laying low!  However before the heat wave chased us home we saw some awesome stuff.   My route took me out of Rifle, CO up Hwy 13 to Hwy 40 East.  This route takes one through the Yampa River Valley of Rio Blanco and Routt County, and some of the prettiest fertile river bottom I've seen. 

Hwy 40 through the windshield

The river and the grass bring the Sandhill Cranes and obviously they nest here!

Sandhill Crane Chick

I stopped at the Yampa River SWA.  The trails were so overgrown I didn't walk any of them did see this killdeer in the parking area trying to draw me away from the nest I never saw the eggs, the parking area was all gravel so I'm sure they were somewhere in the gravel.  Also present were 2 Eastern Kingbirds, Mallards, Western Kingbirds, and Yellow Warblers.  

Saw a nice patch of Yellow False Lupine

False Lupine 

The bees sure did love it, we moved on and up to the Routt National Forest, via Hwy 14 East and the Meadows campground we stayed at last fall...Danged it wasn't open! No worries since camping is allowed in a National Forest I decided to camp right in front of the gate away from the mud. 

Spring was just getting going there....the willows all red, and the snow still hanging in the shade...and totally cold!!

The Girls enjoyed playing in the creek and the snow...

Annie and Floss in the creek

Annie running in the snow

Casey was not interested in playing he just wanted to relax in the sun

I just wanted to sit in the sun...and enjoy the Avalanche Lilies that were everywhere...

And watch the setting sun play on the distant trees...

This female Cassin's Finch gave us a sunset song, I made a video but it was shaky, it's on my You Tube if you wanna see it...I'm trying to get more birds song on short vids...

We also had White Crowned Sparrow, Gray Headed DE Junco, and Yellow Warbler in the willows around the camp....

Hmm moose tracks....

And once we had breakfast and pulled out we stopped at Dumont Lake Campground it was closed too...but we drove around and checked things out...

Down near the highway a Moose Cow was browsing, hopefully she can fatten on spring growth

Over Rabbit Ears pass 

The Rabbit Ears and some Antelope

nearby we stopped at the Muddy Creek Lake, 

More White Crowns were around, one Lincoln Sparrow and some Spotted Sandpiper snacked in the mud flats...

This area of Jackson County has a Prairie Chicken Lek (Coalmont Lek) but currently there is no public access...

I had the CR 45 Lek in Wray County on my visit list but the heat got to us before we ever reached Wray County..So here in Jackson County is Walden Lake, it is HUGE!  Tons of White Pelican, Double Crested Cormorant, Northern Shoveler, American Coot, American Avocet, Blue Wing and Cinnamon Teal, tons of Barn, Tree, Northern Rough Wing Swallow, with Western and Ring Billed Gull.  

Am. Avocet

Ring Billed Gull

White Pelican

Canada Geese

 White Pelican flying in this wind!

It was almost impossible to bird with the wind howling...so we had our lunch break 

...and moved right after...
I'll pick up after lunch when we checked out Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge
after we enjoyed the view at least one more time

Every day is a new Adventure.


  1. Hello, wonderful report and photos. I just love the mountain views. Cool sightings of the moose and antelope. I love the Crane and chicks, the Avocet and Spotted Sandpipers are pretty. Great videos of the Killdeer and the White Pelican. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing your trip!

    1. HI Eileen, this part of Colorado is so beautiful and there is still a lot of wildlife there. I enjoyed visiting more in the spring it was a wee bit warmer and no hunters around.

  2. I have travelled through this area and enjoyed its bird life. It certainly is spectacular.

    1. Hi David, I enjoyed seeing it in spring weather, in the past I've been here in Summer and Fall....I think So far Fall is my favorite time of year in this area.

  3. The Sand Hill Cranes and chicks are beautiful, so many wonderful things to see and the snow on the ground made me want to be there and playing with the girls in it. To bad it turned hot so fast that you had to cut the trip short but I can bet the girls in their fur must have been happy to get home. Hope your A/C is cranking some nice cold air now.

    1. Hi Jo, yep that heatwave was not a good thing to try to camp in my little set up. Wish I did have a roof top unit and I guess I could get one installed on my van, but then I would have to pay higher fees to get an electric site--and that's not always easy in my budget. I sure did enjoy seeing those Crane Chicks.

  4. Beautiful shot of Hwy 40. I like the cranes too. Common Cranes have now returned to the UK after an absence of nearly 400 years. Casey looks content I'm guessing that he's getting on in years.

    1. HI Dave, yes I put his age at about 15? He is pretty much deaf, he staggers a lot when he walks and he gets tired really easy...he still thinks he can do long walks but he can't I end up carrying him back and he is a solid 20 lbs!

  5. Ah how cute are the Cranes, we have some in the UK but i've never seen them in the wild yet! It sounds like the heatwave is going to be overpowering, I hope you got the AC fixed ok!

    1. The were adorable and the parents were very protective too....putting themselves between me and the chicks...I was in my car because birds tolerate the car more than a person out walking around. I am cool! of course once it gets up to 100 and more the AC struggles to keep up. The one that went out was at least 10 yrs old so I can't complain.


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