Flickr album link: Wildlife Drive
For those who recently emptied the bank account to obtain a capable camera or high power binoculars, adding wildlife areas to the list of destinations when planning a vacation will certainly be necessary to do. When doing so in this modern age of severe drought and climate change, it may be best to chart a few wildlife areas along the way in order to guarantee that there will be enough subject matter to satisfy the quest. There is nothing like driving endless miles to a wildlife preserve with high expectations, only to find that there is not a living creature to be found. This actually does happen more frequently these days and tourists rarely have the extra time or patience to play the waiting game. For this reason it is best to chart a few wildlife areas along the planned travel route in case some are nonproductive, so the chances of capturing a wall hanger image will be better.
The Browns Park Wildlife Refuge is located on the Colorado-Utah Border between Flaming Gorge and Craig. Dinosaur National Monument is right next door, while the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is one of the most popular summer season destinations in the entire west. Colorado Highway 318 parallels the Green River through the Browns Park region, which is very much off the beaten path. Fuel management becomes a concern in this desolate area and most tourists only visit Browns Park as a side trip from Flaming Gorge. In fact the majority of the tourism traffic on this road is actually headed toward the Green River rafting adventures at Gates Of Lodore. For this reason Browns Park is kind of a fly by zone where passers by look and wonder, but they don't usually take the time to thoroughly check it out.
Browns Park features a unique automobile touring option called Wildlife Drive, which is a dirt road that runs eight miles through the riverside wetlands and meadows. This touring route ends in an agricultural area next to the Sand Wash, which is a wild horse management area. All sorts of songbirds, raptors and waterfowl can be seen along Wildlife Drive and there are a few overlooks on the high ground that present magnificent views of the river bluffs. There are also several small fishing piers along this trail, so catching fresh trout for dinner can be part of the battle plan. This region is famous for being the home of large herds of deer and elk, but the early morning or evening hours are best for spotting these wild animals in the fields. Pronghorn antelope also frequent this wildlife refuge, especially in the sagebrush hills. The lush green agricultural areas are also a prime attractant, so on any given day a wide variety of wildlife can be viewed in Browns Park.
Oddly enough, my own wildlife viewing venture on Wildlife Drive turned out to be a bummer, since it was one of those days when there was absolutely no living creatures to view. I was there during the peak of the summer dry season, which was amplified by drought, so poor conditions were expected. After snapping a few photos of the landscape along the touring route, I ended up setting up shop at a campground in Browns Park right next to the Green River. This put me in position to set out at dawn, which is always best for wildlife viewing. That morning I went next door to the Browns Park Waterfowl Management Area and captured a few gigabytes worth of birding images. The same results could have been achieved along Wildlife Drive in the early morning hours, which is something to keep in mind if there was nothing much to see the previous day!
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