Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

North Sterling State Park - Logan County
Aliases: North Sterling Reservoir
Ownership: None Listed
Description: This state park lies on the east and south sides of North Sterling Reservoir which is by far the least visited of the four major reservoirs with public access associated with the South Platte River as it flows out of Colorado into Nebraska (Jackson, Prewitt and Jumbo being the other three). That is, in part, because it is the most remote and has a rocky shoreline without the rich sediment inflow and marshy borders of a Prewitt or Jumbo Reservoir. But its lack of visits is also due to a probably undeserved reputation as not being very birdy. Nevertheless, North Sterling Reservoir is usually worth a visit, especially outside of the heat of summer when there can be a lot of boating and camping activity. Reach the boat ramp by bearing to the right after the main entrance. It provides the nearest views of an east west peninsula that splits the two major arms of the reservoir. This peninsula will usually host many resting geese, ducks, gulls, pelicans and cormorants—but it is a distant view at best. The boat ramp is also where the reservoir is at its deepest and thus the last spot on the reservoir to freeze—which typically happens by mid-December. Try early fall for terns and huge concentrations of pelicans; late fall visits to this spot can be good for geese, diving ducks and gulls; and even after frozen there will be tens of thousands of geese traveling back and forth between North Sterling and Jumbo. Raptors can be encountered anywhere in the park—over 30 Bald Eagles were here in 2002. North Sterling has several potentially productive migrant traps. One is around the park headquarters located across the dam from the boat ramp. Much better prospects are available in the several wooded groves along the trail that follows the south shore including Barn Owls that seem to use the very first grove along this trail as a late summer roost. To access this trail, drive through the main campground to a parking area by a footbridge over the inlet canal. Be prepared to share the wooded groves with masses of insects, but other than bugs and birds expect to have the site to yourself. The best accessible shorebirding area at NSSP is in the southwest corner. To get there, take CR 33 south from the entrance to CR 44 and go west for two miles and take CR 29 north to a parking area. After parking walk to the shoreline where during fall migration a good mix of shorebirds is likely but without the large numbers sometimes encountered at Jackson and Prewitt. The roads on this drive are good for sparrows, Burrowing Owls in season and usually a few Lapland Longspurs in the masses of Horned Larks in winter.

Habitat: Reservoir, Grassland/Prairie
Directions: To reach this state park, take I-76 to exit 125 (the Sterling exit) and go west on US-6 into Sterling. Follow US-6 into town, and stay on it as it turns south on 4th Street near the center of town. Two blocks south, turn right on CO 14 (Main Street). Go half a mile to CR 39 (7th Ave.) and take a right (north). Follow this road north for 10 miles to CR 46, and turn left (west). Go two miles and take a right (north) onto CR 33. The entrances into North Sterling State Park are on the left in less than a mile.
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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Other Sites in Logan County
eBird Seasonal Bar Chart

Latest North Sterling State Park Sightings from eBird


CBRC Records from North Sterling State Park

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Trumpeter Swan1997-01211/16/1997
Little Gull2016-080 10/07/2016
Red-throated Loon1997-00311/6/1994
Red-shouldered Hawk2015-099 08/30/2015
Hoary Redpoll2013-078 3/3/2013
Hoary Redpoll2013-080 3/3/2013