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Birding the High Plains and Rocky Mountains of Southern Wyoming

Program Number: 18923RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/23/2013 - 6/29/2013;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Price starting at: $1,149.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding; On the Road
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    

Join an expert birder and experienced Road Scholar instructor on daily bird-watching hikes, drives and field sessions among every major habitat in south-central Wyoming. Spot herons, grebes, phalaropes and a variety of waterfowl amid the wetlands of two National Wildlife Refuges, and search the surrounding shortgrass prairie for Horned Larks, McCown’s Longspurs, Golden Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks and Prairie Falcons.


• Enjoy birding in sagebrush-covered foothills, spruce-fir forests, mountain meadows and lakeshores.
• See high mountain bird species arriving with the melting snow and colorful wildflowers emerging.
• Learn about the natural and human history of the southern Wyoming ranchlands.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles daily. Elevations of 10,500 feet.

So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Fort Collins, Colo., 1 night; van to Laramie, Wyo., 2 nights; van to Saratoga, Wyo., 2 nights; van to Fort Collins, Colo., 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Mountains and Plains Institute.


Settled in the mid-19th century where the Union Pacific Railroad line crosses the Laramie River, Laramie is a bustling college town and gateway for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure in the Snowy and Laramie ranges. History and culture abound in Laramie, with more than 20 sites in town listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Collins

Founded as a military fort in 1864, Fort Collins is a city known for its thriving arts community, active university and Old West history. Nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills, Fort Collins is a prime spot for hiking, bicycling and rafting along the Cache la Poudre River.

Saratoga (Wyoming)

Saratoga is a small town in southeastern Wyoming’s North Platte Valley. The North Platte River runs through it, inspiring the town motto: “Where the Trout Leap In Main Street.” In Saratoga’s gently rolling prairies of sagebrush, one will find pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, coyotes, jack rabbits, sage grouse, golden eagles and mountain bluebirds.

Fort Collins: Motel with pool. Laramie: Comfortable hotel with indoor pool. Saratoga: Hot springs resort & spa.
Meals and Lodgings
   Best Western University Inn
  Fort Collins, CO 1 night
   Hilton Garden Inn Laramie
  Laramie, WY 2 nights
   Saratoga Resort and Spa
  Saratoga, WY 2 nights
   Best Western University Inn
  Fort Collins, CO 1 night
 Best Western University Inn
Type: Motel
  Contact info: 914 S College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO 80524 USA
phone: 888-484-2984
  Room amenities: Cable satellite television, Coffee/tea maker, Hairdryer, Iron, ironing board, Dataports, High-speed Internet access available in some rooms free, In-room safe, Poolside rooms available.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary coffee, Complimentary newspaper, Year-round glass retractable roofed pool including hot tub and fitness room, Guest laundry, front loading washers, 24-hour front desk, Free parking.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call motel for information Reserve directly with hotel.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call motel for information Reserve directly with hotel.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

 Hilton Garden Inn Laramie
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 2229 Grand Avenue
Laramie, WY 82070 USA
phone: 307-745-5500
  Room amenities: High definition television, microwave, refrigerator and coffee/tea maker. For conducting business, spacious work desk, two telephones with data port and voicemail and complimentary wired and wireless high-speed internet access.
  Facility amenities: Fitness Room, Indoor Pool and hot tub, business center
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Saratoga Resort and Spa
Type: Resort
  Description: Gourmet dining, hand-crafted microbrews, pampering spa treatments, healing mineral hot springs, comfortable accommodations, and our friendly staff await your visit.
  Contact info: 601 East Pic Pike Road
Saratoga, WY 82331 USA
phone: 800-594-0178
  Room amenities: 50 guest rooms and suites. Your lodge room is complete with a rustic flare including featherbeds, Pendleton blankets, locally crafted lodge pole beds and prints of the olden day west by Charles Russell and Frederick Remington.
  Facility amenities: 70-foot natural hot spring mineral pool for a well earned reprieve after an active, adventurous summer day.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Motel check-in begins at 3:00 pm, Dinner 5:45 followed by Orientation You will be staying at Best Western University Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Ends after breakfast. Check out by 11:00 am. You will be staying at Best Western University Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Acknowledgement of Risk-Waiver of Liability Form to be mailed to Mountains and Plains Institute Office.
  Parking availability:
Without charge at motel
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fort Collins, CO
  Nearest highway: I25; US287
  Nearest airport:  Denver International (DEN)
  From End of Program
  Location: Fort Collins, CO
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Fort Collins


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
1. SuperShuttle 2. Greenride Colorado
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call for current rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


DIA to Fort Collins 2 hours total 


Reservations required. Participants can choose either service: the SuperShuttle 800-258-3826 or Greenride Colorado 888-472-6656 from Denver International Airport to Fort Collins. Request in advance to be dropped off and picked up at the Best Western University Inn.

Driving Directions
  Denver to Fort Collins Fort Collins is North 60 miles from Denver via Interstate 25. Best Western University Inn: From: Interstate 25. Take Exit 268 (Prospect Road) west 4 miles. Turn right (north) on College Avenue (HWY 287). Travel 4 blocks to 914 South College Avenue (we will be on the right hand side) . The Best Western University Inn is located across the street from Colorado State University and walking distance from historic downtown
Elevation Note: 5,000 - 10,500 feet

Equipment Requirements: Binoculars, bird book-field guide, clothing for variable weather, walking shoes (grass-weeds can be damp in mornings)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check-in and orientation
(Sunday, June 23)
 Arrive To: Independent arrivals at motel by 5:00 p.m.
 Dinner: Dinner at a popular local restaurant
 Evening: Required orientation and introductory lecture
Accommodations: Best Western University Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: High Plains of the Rockies: Hereford Ranch; Vedauwoo.
(Monday, June 24)

Note: Walking up to 1 mile in morning on flat gravel surfaces; afternoon walk of 1 mile on paved trail, some short up and downhill stretches; evening walk on University of Wyoming Campus

 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast in motel
 Morning: Travel by van from Fort Collins to Cheyenne. Our first stop is the historic Wyoming Hereford working cattle ranch. In 2008, out of 123 bird species observed in the Cheyenne area, 81 were observed at WHR. Audubon Wyoming has designated WHR as an IBA (important bird area) and is one of the better birding sites in Wyoming. Target species will include an assortment of waterfowl, Willet, American Avocet, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Belted Kingfisher.
 Lunch: Local restaurant lunch were we order off the menu.
 Afternoon: We travel west out of Cheyenne to the Lincoln Highway high point and the US Forest Service Recreation area called Vedauwoo. We walk along a forest path surrounded by impressive rock spires birding the migratory and nesting birds of the area. Check into hotel in Laramie in late afternoon.
 Dinner: We dine tonight at a local favorite restaurant in downtown Laramie where we order off the menu.
 Evening: After dinner we will walk and bird the beautiful campus of the University of Wyoming.
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Laramie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Grasslands and Wildlife Refuges of Laramie Plains
(Tuesday, June 25)

Note: Van travel with several short stops and walks up to 1/2 mile.

 Breakfast: Full Buffet Breakfast in Hotel
 Morning: A tour of the grasslands and Plains Lakes, including Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, is on today’s agenda. We will bird our way to the refuge and spend the morning there. Target species include White-faced Ibis, Black-crowned Night Heron, Wilson’s Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Sage Thrasher, McCowen’s Longspur, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, and Prairie Falcon.
 Lunch: We return for lunch at a restaurant in Laramie.
 Afternoon: We travel into the Southern Plains of the Laramie area with a canyon stop on the Wyoming-Colorado Border to search for Prairie Falcons that also may be nesting.
 Dinner: We dine at a local restaurant in downtown Laramie where we order off of the menu.
 Evening: After dinner in Laramie we may, weather permitting, take a drive north of town in search of Mountain Plovers and Burrowing Owls.
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Laramie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Snowy Range of the Rockies
(Wednesday, June 26)

Note: Morning walk at Happy Jack, 1.5 miles on trail and road with some hills. Afternoon: short stops and very short walks.

 Breakfast: Full Buffet Breakfast in Hotel
 Morning: Early morning birdwalk on the Happy Jack trails, US National Forest land 12 miles east of Laramie. Target species for the birdwalk will include Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red Crossbill, Red-napped Sapsucker, Northern Goshawk. We return mid-morning to Laramie, check-out of the hotel and begin the drive West birding the Little Laramie River Valley.
 Lunch: Box lunch in the Snowy Range Mountains
 Afternoon: Continue our drive from Laramie to Saratoga, WY via the Snowy Range National Scenic Highway. Short stops along the way. The alpine wildflower season will be near its peak, and birds we will see along the way may include Cassin’s Finch, Pine Grosbeak, American Dipper, and American Three-toed Woodpecker. We arrive late afternoon at the Saratoga Resort.
 Dinner: We dine at the Saratoga Resort Restaurant
 Evening: Free to enjoy resort hot springs pools or explore town of Saratoga
Accommodations: Saratoga Resort and Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: North Platte River Valley and High Plains Reservoir
(Thursday, June 27)

Note: Two Morning walks, first is 1/2 mile on level trail along river; second is 1 mile along lake on level road. Afternoon one or two short walks at Ranch.

 Breakfast: Resort continental breakfast
 Morning: For the morning we’ll drive in the Saratoga Valley, visiting and walking at the Saratoga Lake wetlands and riparian areas along the North Platte River. We look for songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, and shorebirds.
 Lunch: We dine at a historic hotel restaurant in downtown Saratoga
 Afternoon: We drive north from Saratoga to the Wyoming Game and Fish Wick Habitat Management Unit near Arlington. This is an opportunity to observe more bird species plus Pronghorn, Deer and smaller mammals. Also this site has been developed for wind energy and we will learn by expert lecture the pros and cons especially for birds and wildlife of wind turbine farms such as we will observe.
 Dinner: We dine at the Saratoga Resort Restaurant
 Evening: Enjoy lodge and hot springs pools
Accommodations: Saratoga Resort and Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: North Park, Arapaho Wildlife Refuge, Cameron Pass, Poudre Canyon
(Friday, June 28)

Note: Walks in the morning on level trains, roads, and boardwalks: one for 3/4 mile and one for 1/2 mile at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge; afternoon walk at Sate Park Visitor Center of 1/2 mile.

 Breakfast: Resort continental breakfast
 Morning: We drive through the high valley of North Park completely surrounded by snowy peaks. We’ll pay a visit to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge a few miles south of Walden.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in downtown Walden.
 Afternoon: Return to Fort Collins by way of scenic Cameron Pass and Poudre Canyon. We will stop at a State Visitor Center for a walk and to visit the exhibits looking for Moose and many song birds. We will be arriving in Fort Collins in late afternoon.
 Dinner: We dine this evening at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Farewells, compile week's bird list
Accommodations: Best Western University Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Departure after breakfast
(Saturday, June 29)

Note: Motel check-out is 11 AM

 Breakfast: Motel continental buffet
 Morning: Departures after Breakfast, Check-out time 11 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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