The Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most remote wildlife refuges in the country, so we should have known it would be tucked into an out-of-the way spot, and it is.
Remember that dirt road we took to hike the Continental Divide? Well, this refuge was more than 20 miles down that road from our RV park.
It was certainly a scenic drive…
…and definitely remote!
Because heavy winter snows keep the valley marshes and lakes replenished, and because of the remote location, this is considered one of the most important breeding locations for Trumpeter Swans in North America.
At the Visitor’s Center, Suzanne gave us fantastic information and suggested a particularly good trail. Our likelihood of seeing swans was pretty small (unless we hiked miles and miles to the even more remote — and appropriately named — Swan Lake), but we’d get a chance to experience the refuge and see others of the 232 species of birds known to pass through the area (few actually stay through the rough winter).
We were immediately rewarded with these Sandhill Cranes…
and this Great Blue Heron soaring overhead…
… while American Coots shared a pond…
… with this Canvasback family:
The ponds were crowded — obvious proof this remote Wildlife spot is a popular wayside rest and breeding area.
After weeks of trying to capture a good shot of the Black-Billed Magpies I’d been seeing in the area, I was able to finally succeed:
Along Route 509 on the southern edge of the Refuge sits the tiny town of Lakeview, which is as rustic as the old Western buildings make it seem.
And on the road back to the RV park, we passed the remains of buildings from those who maybe found out that, as beautiful as this area is in July, the winters are brutal and lonely.