Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area
Aliases: Johnson Lake Nature Trail
Birders should never drive past this State Wildlife Area without stopping. The Johnson Lake nature trail along Highway 285 includes a boardwalk through a thriving marsh, with good views of ponds and wet meadows. In the colder months, if the water is not frozen, the ponds can be full of ducks of many species. In the breeding season, the area is full of birds, including Cinnamon Teal, Western and Clark’s Grebes, American Bittern, Sora, Virginia Rail, White-faced Ibis, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat and Savannah Sparrow. The small grove of trees at the parking area has produced migrant warblers and breeding Bullock’s Oriole; Great Horned Owls often nest in the trees. The saltbush around the ponds has plenty of Brewer’s Sparrows and Sage Thrashers. Jackrabbits can be abundant in the dry brush, and mule deer are frequently seen. The ponds also host muskrats, various amphibians, and many species of butterfly, dragonfly, and damselfly.
Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Marsh, Hedgerow/Shelterbelt, Sagebrush
Directions: From the town of Saguache, go nine miles south on US 285 to the beginning of the SWA. The SWA stretches along the east side of US 285.
Delorme: 80 A1-A2
Roads of Colorado: 118 B4-C4
Dates of Access: Johnson Lake trail always open; the rest is open from July 16 to Feb 14.
Ownership: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations.
Parking: Unpaved parking area
Lodging: Hotels in Saguache or Monte Vista
Handicapped Access: Transition between gravel trail and wooden boardwalk may require a short step