Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Gregory Canyon - Boulder County
Aliases: Chautauqua Park, Flagstaff Mountain, Boulder Mountain Parks
Ownership: None Listed
Description: If you are not a Boulder County Residents and do not have Boulder license plate, there is a $3 parking fee for Boulder Mountain Parks. This is enforced! The Gregory Canyon lot is tiny and typically full. If so, park out along the road somewhere and walk in. Please check current regulations in Boulder County.

If you follow Baseline Road in Boulder all the way west until it runs into the foothills, you will find yourself at the entrance road to Gregory Canyon, which may be the finest patch of riparian foothill habitat in the Front Range. It is one of the only places in Colorado with a native stand of Ironwood, a trademark tree of the eastern deciduous forests. Perhaps because of the familiar flora, this area seems to act as a magnet for eastern vagrants, which have included Red-shouldered Hawk, Ovenbird and Blue-winged and Prothonotary Warblers. White-eyed Vireo, Hooded and Kentucky Warblers have summered in the area, and the vireos may have fledged young! In the warmer months, Gregory Canyon is an excellent place to find specialty foothill and riparian birds like Gray Catbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Virginia's and MacGillivray's Warblers, all mixed with birds of drier ponderosa habitats like Western Tanager and Plumbeous Vireo, not to mention cliff-loving birds like Canyon Wren and Golden Eagle. Trails split off from the parking lot in several directions, and each of them is worth birding, particularly for the first hundred yards or so. Don't neglect the entrance road either. The draw along the lower portion of the Amphitheater Trail is worth particular attention.

Adjacent to Gregory Canyon on the south and southeast is Chautauqua Park, one of the more popular recreational areas in Boulder, with multiple trailheads. From Gregory or Chautauqua you can access the Mesa Trail (q.v.) and walk all the way south to Doudy Draw if you so desire. Chautauqua's trails offer most of the same birding opportunities as Gregory Canyon, minus the fabulous riparian stuff.

On the other side of Gregory Canyon is Flagstaff Mountain, which is where you'll end up if you follow Baseline up the hill past the entrance road to Gregory. Flagstaff Mountain Road is spectacularly steep, winding, and narrow, and it is made narrower by the crowds of masochistic bikers huffing their way uphill on the right and down on the left. Be very careful of them while driving. The various lookouts and trailheads along the road are good for scenery and for the more common Ponderosa birds. Owling from this road in spring can sometimes produce Northern Saw-whet and even Flammulated Owls, both usually heard far below you, in upper Gregory Canyon, from one of the overlooks.

Habitat: Ponderosa Forest, Foothill Shrub, Lowland Riparian, Cliff Face, Stream
Directions: From Denver, follow US 36 into Boulder, exiting at Baseline Road. Turn left (west) on Baseline and follow it west past Broadway and up the long hill. The main entrance to Chautauqua Park is on the left (south) after the top of the hill. The entrance road to Gregory Canyon is just past where Baseline curves sharply to the right and begins to climb steeply, becoming Flagstaff Mountain Road.
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