Betasso Nature Preserve

Last week I was able to tag along with my husband who was attending a training in Boulder, CO. I've never seen the Rocky Mountains before, so I was very excited. As you might imagine, April weather in Colorado is pretty varied. I was prepared for cool temps and even wintry conditions, making sure the vehicle we rented was equipped with 4-wheel drive.

We drove up to Estes Park, the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park after he finished training on the first day. It was beautiful, but too cold for hiking. We drove along enjoying the scenery and the wildlife. There was still plenty of snow on the ground, and eventually we did have to turn around because the road is closed off during the winter. We had some flurries, but no accumulation to speak of.

I wanted very much to drive myself back up there the next day, but having been admonished by more knowlegeable folks about mountain lion and grizzly bear sightings, I knew I couldn't go alone. I decided to see if there was a hiking guide service or maybe even horseback riding. I found a stable that is open year-round and booked a two-hour ride for Friday. We had been watching the weather and a blizzard was predicted for the weekend, beginning Friday night, so I figured this was my only opportunity to get back to the park before the snow hit.

Friday morning came and the weatherman announced that a foot of snow had already fallen in the mountains and 8-10 more inches were expected. It wasn't snowing at all in Boulder, but my husband didn't want me to drive up there and get stuck. Bummer. I had to cancel.

Well, I was determined to go hiking somewhere and get some wildlife pictures. So I picked up a guide of local trails in Boulder and set off to see what I could see. (Let me just interject here that Hertz Never Lost is worth the extra cost. I love that you can type in where you want to go and she will get you there.) I found a marsh trail, perfect for shooting bird photos. Tune in tomorrow to see some of those.

I drove to another site and watched two magpies building a nest, but couldn't find the trailhead. I drove up into the Flat Iron mountains on Canyon Drive to see Boulder Falls. Unfortunately, there was a huge rockslide some time ago and you can no longer see the falls. I drove back down and saw a bird of prey circling above and wondered if I could get up to the top of that mountain for a better view. Just around the bend, there was a side road and I turned off.

I really enjoy turning onto an unfamiliar road just to see where it leads, so this was going to be fun whether I achieved a better view of that bird or not. What I found at the top of this road was Betasso Nature Preserve, a beautiful mountain-top area with picnic tables and trails. I did see the bird, but it was still too high to identify. No matter, I started walking along the path to see what else I might find.

I didn't get very far, and it wasn't because of the altitude. What stopped me was a sign warning that this was mountain lion territory! It went on to explain what to do and what NOT to do should I encounter one.

  • Never run.
  • Stand up as tall as you can and shout loudly. Do NOT crouch down.
  • Throw rocks and sticks.
  • If attacked, fight back.

  • Well, that last admonition did it. These lions are able to take down an elk for their dinner, and I didn't see any elk around. I didn't feel like being a subsitute, so I turned around and got back in the SUV.

    I was able to get some lovely scenery shots before I saw that sign, though. And I thought this one was perfect for Skywatch Friday.

    The snow did come later, and I never did get my horseback ride, but that just means I have something to look forward to next time. I definitely want to visit this place again.

    tree and sky photo by Adrienne in Ohio on vacation

    For more beautiful skies check out SkyWatch Friday.


    jrosey said…
    Beautiful shot! I have mountain lions in my area, so I have done plenty of reading up on what to do should I encounter one. Hopefully I'll never have to put the suggestions to the test! ;)
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    fishing guy said…
    Andrienne: Neat story and thanks for sharing your trip out west.
    Louise said…
    I'm sad you got foiled at every turn! But this photo alone is almost worth the trip, no?
    B Squared said…
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Co. We were there last Fall and spent 7 days exploring the High Country near Aspen. Such a great adventure. Can't wait to do it again. It was nothing like the part of Oh. that I grew up around. Best wishes for a wonderful Easter.
    Barb said…
    Hi Adrienne,

    When you said in your post that you were going to the nature preserve near Boulder by yourself, I thought "Uh -Oh!" Boulder is actually known for its mountain lion encounters - sometimes they even venture into town. The canyons above Boulder are perfect lion habitat, which is why warning signs abound on all hiking trails. I thought maybe you were going ot post a picture of one!(Glad you didn't have that excitement, though.) There are no grizzly bears in CO - but plenty of black bears. I've had to stop feeding the birds at my home in Breckenridge because I feel even with all the snow on the ground up there, they might soon come out of hibernation. I don't want to attract them to the house - they come onto our property enough without putting food out for them! Glad you enjoyed Boulder - come further west to the Mts next time.
    Barb: Glad to know there aren't grizzlies, but don't really want to meet up with ANY hungry bears. :) I guess the authorities in Boulder had trapped a mountain lion the week before. He had attacked and eaten a small dog and so was re-located. (I thought, "ok, where do they relocate them? How far away do they go?")
    Babooshka said…
    Amzing tree and a beautiful vista.
    TCKK said…
    How beautiful!! I got to go to Estes Park in May, 20 years ago. They had just opened the roadway the week before. It was beautiful then too!

    Happy Easter!
    SandyCarlson said…
    That is one grand tree!
    theArthurClan said…
    The signs would have scared the living fire out of me too Adrienne. But wow - what a beautiful capture you made here. Another postcard-quality photo.

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