Adjacent to the Great Sand Dunes, this Nature Conservancy preserve offers a one-mile trail through cottonwoods and wetland habitats that is open to visitors March to October. Other parts of the enormous property can be visited by joining a guided ranch tour, which may afford you the opportunity to view the ranch’s large bison herd. The nature trail leads through a very pleasant park-like woodland where you are quite likely to find breeding Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bullock’s Orioles, and Western Tanagers. Look carefully at any large clump of sticks in the trees–it could be the nest of a Great Horned Owl or a Cooper’s Hawk, or it could be a sleeping porcupine. If you get the chance to visit this place, don’t pass it up!
Attractions: Historic ranch, Ute, Spanish and Western history.
Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Foothill Shrub, Sagebrush, Marsh
Directions: From US 160 fourteen miles east of Alamosa and five miles west of Blanca, turn north on CO 150 and proceed about twelve miles north to the ranch entrance on the left (west).
Delorme: 81 C6
Roads of Colorado: 135 F3
Dates of Access: Nature trail open Mar - Oct; other visits may be possible by appointment
Ownership: The Nature Conservancy
Admission: Nature trail is free; fee for guided tours and lodging
Restrictions: Visit http://www.zranch.org for more information on opportunities to visit.
Parking: Parking area
Lodging: Lodging available on-site (see www.zranch.org for details). The Great Sand Dunes Lodge is two miles north (open seasonally, 719-378-2900). Hotels in Alamosa.