Program and Agenda

Self-guided Trips

There are lots of options to explore on your own.

Birding near Estes Park for AOU conference (September 24-27, 2014)

Locations near Estes Park outside of Rocky Mountain National Park that offer excellent birding opportunities during fall migration in Colorado and Wyoming are listed here. Both states offer a diversity of habitat types in close proximity to each other. In both states, it is possible to travel from grasslands to alpine tundra in only a few hours. It is important to note that in late-September many of the species that breed in the area have already migrated south. However, this is a very exciting time to go birding in this area with migrants from just about anywhere in the country coming through the region. The distances and travel times provided were acquired using Google Maps.

Recommended locations and distances from Estes Park:

  1. Pawnee National Grassland (including Crow Valley) - 83.6 miles (1 hr 49 min) to Briggdale, CO which is adjacent to Crow Valley (USFS campground).
    Description: Campground at Crow Valley is an excellent location to search for migrating landbirds and one of the best migrant “traps” in Colorado. The grasslands around Crow Valley are excellent examples of shortgrass prairie.
  2. Jackson Lake State Park – driving distance: 92 miles (2 hr 3 min).
    Description: Located in the central flyway, this reservoir is outstanding for migrating shorebirds and waterbirds and the trees around the reservoir are good for migrating landbirds.
  3. North Park – 116 miles (to Walden is 2 hr 43 min).
    Description: Greater Sage-Grouse and other sage species can be found here and reservoirs for are great for breeding and migrating waterbirds.
  4. Barr Lake State Park – 70 miles (1 hr 43 min).
    Description: This reservoir is great for breeding and migrating shorebirds and waterbirds and the trees surrounding the reservoir are great for migrating landbirds (RMBO banding station will be operating mornings).
  5. Cherry Creek State Park – 79 miles (1 hr 47 min).
    Description: Another reservoir surrounded by forests that is great for migrating waterbirds and landbirds.
  6. Hereford Ranch (Wyoming) – 88 miles (to Cheyenne, Wyoming is 1 hr 40 min).
    Description: This private ranch welcomes birders and is one of the best places in the region for migrating landbirds.
  7. Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary and Lake Estes – In Estes Park
    Description: The area where the Big Thompson River flows into Lake Estes has attracted many rare landbirds the past few years. In the event of foul weather mountain birds can be present also. Look for waterbirds on Lake Estes.
  8. Watson Lake State Wildlife Area – migrant landbirds and waterbirds – 43.6 miles (to Bellvue, CO is 1 hr 12 min)
    Description: The short trail along the Poudre River is great for migrating landbirds and the cliffy areas along the river are great for raptors and aerial insectivores. The lake could have a good diversity of waterbirds in the fall.
  9. Cameron Pass – 90 miles (2 hrs 7 min) on the way to Walden, CO.
    Description: This is one of the best places in Colorado for Boreal Owl. All of the expected mountain species can be found here.
  10. Poudre River Trail – migrating landbirds and six miles of walking/biking trails – 42 miles (1 hr 10 min) to convenient parking lot at Lee Martinez Park.
    Description: A great place to take a walk and bird as you go. This is a great place to look for migrating landbirds.

If you want to explore other options, please visit Colorado Field Ornithologists county-birding website: