In the blink of an eye, fall gives way to winter weather at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Before the leaves even have a chance to drop, snow swoops in to dust this gorgeous landscape in a dramatic white blanket. Don’t worry, though. The end of fall doesn’t mean the end of fun. Visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, skiing and sledding in the park. Just plan ahead and be sure to layer up with insulating, waterproof clothing, wear sunglasses, use sunscreen and carry water. Photo of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.
Fall weather frolic, anyone? Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colorado offers 10 miles of trails, golden fall colors and views of wildlife– such as leaping mule deer, bison, prairie dogs, migrating birds and coyotes. Chilly weather means it’s the time of year to dress warmly and take a stroll down your favorite path, listen to the rustling leaves and enjoy those fleeting moments of autumn. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A bison roams the golden grasses at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, one of our largest urban wildlife refuges. Only about 20 minutes from the Denver airport, take the 11-mile Wildlife Drive and keep your eyes peeled for bison, mule and white-tailed deer, hawks and waterfowl. Near the visitor center, you can learn more about the refuge’s population of endangered black-footed ferrets and the current conservation work. Whether you’re passing through Colorado or you call this place home, the refuge is yours to explore. Photo by Ian Shive, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It turns out, the golden views at Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge are what you find at the end of the rainbow. This Colorado wildlife refuge offers glimpses of both the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Great Sand Dunes National Park in the distance. The auto-tour route between April and early fall allows a drive, in solitude, amongst wetlands home to dozens of bird species. Along the Rio Grande River Trail, you will see a wide variety of habitats, from lush grasses to dense stands of willow, to towering cottonwood trees. Photo courtesy of Patricia Henschen.
A jaw-dropping canyon panorama, sheer cliffs, brightly colored formations and towering monoliths, all make Colorado National Monument an incredible sight to behold. Photographer Claudia Cooper says it well, “Before I visited Colorado National Monument, I’d read it was like a "mini Grand Canyon.” Now I know why – it was truly stunning.“ Take Rim Rock Drive and follow the twists and turns that introduce you to a variety of different views overlooking this geological masterpiece. Photo by Claudia Cooper (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Enjoy the beautiful sky over Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, an area with some of the highest densities of archaeological sites in North America. The monument protects an abundance of well-preserved evidence of native cultures reflecting many aspects of past human life. From villages, cliff dwellings and field houses to sacred springs, agricultural fields and petroglyphs – the area is incredible to explore. Be sure to stop first at the Anasazi Heritage Center (Monument headquarters) in Colorado for maps, guidebooks, current information about trail and road conditions and general orientation. Most of the monument is open to exploration on foot, but marked foot trails are few and limited to specific areas. Photos by Bob Wick, U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
A kaleidoscopic sunset splashes across the sky and over the sagebrush sea at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. At 8,100 to 8,700 feet above sea level, it’s the highest refuge in the lower 48 states. The refuge supports diverse wildlife habitats, including sagebrush steppe uplands, grassland meadows, willow riparian areas, and wetlands. Visitors can experience hiking, wildlife observation and photography, an auto-tour, and hunting and fishing opportunities. Over 200 bird species have been documented on the refuge, in addition to elk, moose, pronghorn, and porcupines. Photo by Tom Koerner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Dawn breaks and you can almost smell the fresh mountain air by Sprague Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. One of the shortest and most enjoyable day-hikes the park offers, a stroll around Sprague Lake is sure to reinvigorate and lift the spirit. Photo by Nathaniel Gonzales (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There’s just something special about this Colorado sunset. A herd of bison moves across the grassy plain as the setting sun bathes the valley at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The magnificent Rocky Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to the last bit of light of the day. Open sunrise to sunset, walk the refuge’s 10 miles of trails or take the 11-mile Wildlife Drive in your vehicle to see bison, deer, hawks, waterfowl and more. Photo courtesy of Bob Gjestvang.
Known for its breathtaking scenery, Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area is a fine example of the spectacular canyon country of Colorado’s Uncompahgre Plateau. Red rock canyons and sandstone bluffs hold geological and paleontological resources spanning 600 million years, as well as many cultural and historic sites. 115 miles of streams and rivers support a variety of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, golden eagle, turkey, elk, mountain lion, black bear and collared lizard. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.