Barr Lake State Park
- Adams County
Aliases: Old Stone House (RMBO headquarters), RMBO headquarters (Old Stone House)
Description: See a map here. Just northeast of Denver and northwest of DIA, Barr Lake is the focus of the eponymous state park and home to the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Bird records for the park go back well over a century, making this historically the best-studied birding site in Colorado. In that time, Barr has added at least eighteen species to the state list. The lake is almost completely surrounded by mature cottonwoods, often several deep with considerable undergrowth, making this an excellent place to find migrant landbirds and riparian breeders. There is some wet meadow and cattail marsh habitat, especially along the south and west edges of the lake, as well as below the dam. The southern half of the lake is a wildlife preserve closed to fishing and boating. When water levels are low, as they often are in fall, shorebirding can be tremendous.
A walking and bike trail circles the entire lake, but most birders concentrate on the area around the Nature Center and the RMBO banding station, along the lake's east side. From the Nature Center, walk west towards the lake over the canal bridge. To get to the banding station, turn right (north). The banding station is about a quarter mile north, where the trail bends hard right near an observation deck. One of the best areas is the low willows in the meadow on the left just before the bend (often festooned with mist nets during migration), but any section of the trees can be good. Note that the banding station hosts many field trips by schoolchildren each spring and fall.
To get to the mudflats by the most popular route, head across the bridge from the Nature Center and turn left (south), then branch right onto the Niedrach trail. At the first sign on the right-hand side of the trail, cut through the trees along a primitive path (the "Lake Bed Trail") towards the water.
Another place for foot access to Barr Lake is near the RMBO office in the Old Stone House in the northwest corner. To reach this place, take the first dirt road south from Bromley Lane (152nd) east of the railroad tracks, about a quarter mile east of the Bromley Lane exit off I-76 (exit #23). There is a sign here for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Follow the road south to near its end and park in the first wide area before the gate, even if it is open. Walk through the gate to the lake and the dam.
The feedlots along Picadilly opposite Barr Lake State Park (half a mile south of Bromley Lane/152nd Avenue), can attract nice flocks of blackbirds including Great-tailed Grackle.
Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Lowland Riparian, Marsh, Grassland/Prairie
Directions: To the main park entrance and visitor center from I-76: exit at Bromley Lane (exit #23) and head east. Turn south on Picadilly Road in about one mile. The park entrance is on the left (west) side of Picadilly Road, about a mile and a half south of Bromley Lane. From E-470: exit at 120th Street (exit #34) and go east to Tower Road, north to 128th Avenue, then east to Picadilly, and north on that road to the park entrance. Note that there is no access from eastbound E-470 to eastbound I-76, or from westbound I-76 to westbound E-470.