Hayden Grouse Leks
- Routt County
Aliases: Route 80 Leks
Ownership: None Listed
Description: In April, with a good dose of luck, you can see three species of grouse displaying in a single morning near Hayden. Most birders start along Route 80. 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. From this intersection over the crest of the hill is a scrub-oak habitat that has Dusky Grouse. When you reach the top of the hill, look beyond (north of) the fenceline that runs along the ridge for a signed parcel of public land. This is your best shot at seeing a displaying male Dusky Grouse, but they could be anywhere in or around the oaks. All the other land along this road is private and can only be birded from the road. A few miles past the fenceline (four miles from the intersection of CR 80 and CR 70), 200 yards from the road on the left, is a Greater Sage-Grouse lek on private land. Sharp-tailed Grouse used to display in this area, but they have abandoned the Route 80 lek, possibly due to excessive disturbance.
After viewing the Sage-Grouse, to see a Sharp-tailed Grouse, high-tail it (no pun intended) the four miles back to the intersection of CR 80 x CR 70 and turn left (east) onto CR 70. When the road hits US 40 in about five miles, take a right (west). In 1.5 miles, turn left (south) onto CR 27 (Twenty Mile Road). Go south for five miles and park in a pullout on the left. Scan the knoll to the right (west). Another lek is 8.6 miles south of US 40 on the west side of the road. Both leks have only a few birds anymore. Also note that CR 27 is a haul road for coal trucks. Be very careful of traffic and placement of vehicles. The traffic has picked up on CR 27 to the point where inattentive drivers can get in trouble.
All off-road areas are private, and leks are highly sensitive to disturbances. Do not approach birds or dancing zones. Bring binoculars or spotting scopes. See the ethics section of this site for grouse lek protocols.
Habitat: Sagebrush, Scrub Oak Forest, Grassland/Prairie
Directions: See above.