Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge
Browns Park is an extensive area of wetlands and riparian habitat located on the Utah border at the west end of Highway 318. There is a self-guided tour of the refuge. A hunting blind (which is accessible to people with disabilities) on the largest pond along the auto-tour route is a great place to scan for ducks; during migration many hundreds of individuals of many species can be seen here. Browns Park NWR is also probably the best place in the state to see Tundra Swans, as their migration route just clips this remote corner of Colorado. Willow thickets along the river by the auto tour loop host breeding Willow Flycatchers, and the cottonwoods along various drainages may be good for migrants.
By heading over the unique (in Colorado) Swinging Bridge you can access many extremely remote and wonderful draws that very, very few people ever see. These draws are filled with pinyon-juniper and thick manzanita woodland found nowhere else in Colorado, and all the typical ‘PJ’ species can be found in the area. The road on the south side of the Green River here also allows for scanning of some additional shallow ponds and marshes, which are great places to look for more ducks and shorebirds, including Black-necked Stilt (which breeds here).
The NWR headquarters, which are reached by heading south from CO 318 just west of the entrance to the auto loop, usually have hummingbird feeders up, with many Black-chinned Hummingbirds all summer, and Rufous, Calliope, and Broad-tailed in August and September. The brushy draw below the headquarters is excellent for land birds, including breeding Yellow-breasted Chat, Virginia???s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and many others.
A final location to check in the area is the Browns Park Store, which is reached by turning north off of CO 318 east of the NWR. The hummingbird feeders here can be productive as well.
Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Marsh, Rimrock/Mesa, Pinyon-Juniper Forest, Sagebrush
Directions: Browns Park is south of SR-318, 60 miles NW of Maybell. The road to the headquarters heads south at 60 miles from Maybell, and reaches the headquarters building in a little over a mile. The road to the swingin bridge (CR 83) heads south just before the road to the headquarters, and goes 2.5 miles to the bridge, and then over the river. From here you can head either east or west; east will take you to the sites described above. The auto-loop leaves from SR-318 10 miles east of CR 83, and travels west near the river and south of SR-318 to CR 83.
Delorme: 12 B1-B2
Roads of Colorado: 16 B4-C4
Dates of Access: Open all year
Restrictions: Some areas of the refuge closed at certain times of year to protect nesting waterfowl
Parking: Gravel parking areas
Handicapped Access: Handicap accessible blind along the auto refuge, and facilities, some car birding