White Ranch Open Space
- Jefferson County
Ownership: None Listed
Description: This large park has two entrances. In good weather the eastern one is usually swarming with mountain bikers and hikers, while the more remote western one is merely well-traveled. Nonetheless the east side can be a good birding spot. The first mile of the trail runs through a narrow trail easement, meaning you cannot cross the fences into private property. Although narrow, the easement contains some nice thick riparian tangles along Van Bibber Creek, worth checking in season for Yellow-breasted Chat and MacGillivray's Warbler among other skulkers. Black-throated Blue and Blue-winged Warblers have been reported from here. Keep an eye out in the dry scrub for Bushtit and other uncommon foothills birds. After a mile and a half the trail reaches the park proper and birders are given room to wander through the open, dry ponderosa forest.
The west entrance to White Ranch, off Crawford Gulch Road, gets you up much higher into an area of mountain meadows with scattered ponderosa groves, a fine place to search for Mountain and Western Bluebirds, Pygmy Nuthatch and the like. In return for spending an extra half hour getting to this entrance, you will be rewarded with a crowd reduction of approximately 80%.
Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Foothill Shrub, Mountain Meadow, Ponderosa Forest
Directions: To get to the eastern (lower) parking lot: from the intersection of CO 93 and CO 6 in Golden, drive north on 93 about 2 miles to West 56th Avenue (sign for White Ranch Open Space). Turn left (west) and follow 56th about a mile until it ends at a T. Turn right into the parking lot. To get to the western (upper) parking lot: from the intersection of CO 93 and CO 6 in Golden, drive north on 93 about one mile to Golden Gate Canyon Road and turn left (west). In about 4 miles, turn right (north) onto Crawford Gulch Road. The park is on the right a few miles up this road.