The Lone Dome State Wildlife Area is located west of Cortez, Colorado just a few miles off of Highway 491, which is a major tourism route west to Bears Ears and Canyonlands in Utah. The Canyons Of The Ancients, Four Corners, Hovenweep, Ute Mountain and Mesa Verde are all in this neighborhood, so experiencing Lone Dome definitely is a good option when planning a grand tour. This is especially true if camping is the mode of choice, because the Bradfield Recreation Area Campground is located along the Dolores River right next door to Lone Dome, which makes it easy to get a wildlife viewing venture started before sunrise!
Just like with many other wildlife areas in the west, Lone Dome is a wetlands restoration project. Visitor access is limited to Colorado State Access Pass holders, but this really only concerns fishermen or hunters that participate in the wildlife management tag system, so acquiring an annual pass is not really necessary for a wildlife viewing venture. The Lone Dome Recreation Area is a small developed site on this same property that is complete with riverside picnic tables and chargrills, so enjoying an afternoon picnic by the river after busy morning of birding certainly is an option.
The geology of the Dolores River Canyon certainly is intriguing to see, especially in the morning when the bare white rock domes shine bright. This river valley is green and lush all the way from the entrance to the McPhee Dam, so a wide variety of local birds and wild animals can be expected to be encountered on any given day. For those who seek close range photos of mountain bluebirds, they are numerous in this area. As can be seen in the photos, black bears actively try to put on winter fat at Lone Dome during the autumn season, which is something to keep in mind when camping next door in the Bradfield Recreation Area. I actually had to gingerly chase a bear away from some residential garbage cans early in the morning on the way into Lone Dome, just so the bear would be less likely to be labeled as a nuisance. As can be imagined, following the bear safe camping rules is a necessity in this neck of the woods, so be sure to secure the campsite food before setting out on foot!
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