The Plains and Canyons of Southeast Colorado offer visitors unique historical, cultural, and natural wonders. A region of far-ranging contrasts with a rich heritage, this is one of the least changed areas of the state. Much of the terrain looks as it did centuries ago and wildlife are plentiful here, especially during migration.
This trip is timed to maximize opportunities to observe a diversity of Southern Great Plains icons including Burrowing Owl, the 2022 ABA** Bird of the Year, black-tailed prairie dogs, swift fox, and pronghorn, as well as the famed ‘tarantula migration’. In addition to a variety of wildlife hotspots, we’ll also visit rock art sites and points along the historic Santa Fe Trail.
Join Reefs to Rockies for this unforgettable weekend getaway highlighting what makes Southeast Colorado so special.
Chip Clouse is a long-time bird tour leader and Reefs to Rockies’ Lead Naturalist Guide. He’s also ProStaff for Opticron Optics and Former Manager of Front Range Birding Company.
Originally enamored with tooth and claw predators, his fascination with birds started by volunteering with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to monitor Peregrine Falcon nest sites. His fascination and love for birds was cemented once he saw his first Western Tanager while working for the Peregrine Fund in Oregon. Chip’s experience includes 20 years of bird research and project management experience in nine states and the Caribbean nation of Grenada, a Masters in Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, five years with the American Birding Association, two years as a rep with Novagrade Digiscoping adapters and stints guiding at 15+ different US birding festivals. Chip is excited to share his love of Colorado’s natural history in this trip.
Morning departure from Denver. As we make our way to La Junta, we’ll make several stops at birding hotspots that showcase the importance of grassland and riparian habitats for resident and migratory species alike. To maximize our time wildlife viewing today, a hearty picnic lunch will be provided.
After a quick stop at our hotel to check in and drop luggage, we’ll continue south for our late afternoon wildlife drive.
Oklahoma brown tarantulas are a common species in undisturbed grasslands of southeast Colorado. Every fall, adult males set out in large numbers in search of female tarantulas who stay close to their burrows for their entire lives. Males use their senses of touch and vibration to locate females.
Often incorrectly referred to as a migration, this walkabout of males across the southern plains is a remarkable wildlife spectacle. This will also be our best chance to spot swift fox, a species whose numbers are declining. As we make our way back to our hotel along county roads after dark, we’ll keep an eye out for additional nocturnal species that call these grasslands home.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express La Junta