Jackson County definitely is the place to be in Colorado if you are into migrational birding and wildlife viewing. The vast meadows stretch out forever in this region where the high plains meet the towering mountains. The spring snow melt and seasonal rains feed the headwaters of several rivers, so plenty of life giving water can be found in the valleys of this high desert sagebrush environment. Natural ponds and wetlands dot the big valley where the town of Walden is located, which also is known as the moose capitol of the world. The Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge and several Colorado State Wildlife Areas are located along Highway 125 and each offers a unique experience. One of the most interesting is the Cowdrey Lake State Wildlife Area, which is completely hidden from view when traveling on the main road.
Just like with many man made reservoirs, the Cowdrey Lake State Wildlife Area is primarily a fishing destination that offers basic facilities and a light craft boat launch. The Cowdrey Reservoir was originally created for ranching in the region back in the mid 1900s, so this pond is not large by standards and only 15 acres along the shoreline was set aside as a recreation area. Even though Cowdrey Lake looks like a day use area, camping actually is allowed on site, so it is possible to land some fresh panfish for breakfast.
Unfortunately, man made reservoir lakes do not always attract large numbers of migratory birds, especially when natural migratory path water resources are located nearby. Ease of food availability is the main reason why, along with the lack of natural cover for the nesting season. I have been to Cowdrey Lake a few times and only have spotted a few waterfowl, while the neighboring Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge had so much wildlife activity that it looked like an overcrowded zoo. Basically, this spot is more of an easy going fishing destination, however, landscape artists will be pleased to known that Cowdrey Lake is a great spot to capture dramatic images of mountain peak and cloud reflections on the glass smooth water early in the day. All it takes is one early morning view to see why the Cowdrey Lake State Wildlife Area is such a cozy little fishing spot!
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