California Park has one of the highest breeding populations of Sandhill Crane in the state, and thus is also one of the best places to see that species outside of migration. However, to protect this sensitive species, the road doesn’t open until after they have nested, around July 1st. They are easy to find after then, until they migrate out for the fall. California Park is excellent for other species like Purple Martin in the larger aspen stands, Fox Sparrow in willow carrs, and the off chance at a Sharp-tailed Grouse just about anywhere away from the trees. This route is also very good for seeing mammals such as elk and mule deer. The state endangered boreal toad breeds in the area.
Habitat: Streamside Willow, Aspen Grove, Sagebrush, Lodgepole Forest, Mixed Conifer Forest
Directions: If you go north from Hayden on the only road out of town that crosses the Yampa River, within a mile of town you will reach a T intersection. Turn right. In another two or three miles the road splits and you should follow Route 80 left and uphill. CR 80 leads to California Park in about fifteen miles. Note: this is a ??
Delorme: 16 B1-C1
Roads of Colorado: 36 B1-B2
Dates of Access: July 1st through the end of fall
Ownership: US Forest Service
Restrictions: Closed during the winter and crane nesting season
Parking: Roadside, with some gravel pullouts
Lodging: Primitive camping
Handicapped Access: Birding from the car