Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Craig area - Moffat County
Aliases: Loudy-Simpson Park, Perch Pond, WFMC Gravel Pit
Ownership: None Listed
Description: By far the largest town in Moffat County, Craig has a number of good birding spots. Loudy Simpson Park is one of the premier migrant spots in western Colorado, and a must hit spot on any visit to Moffat County in the fall. The nature trail here begins at the northeast corner of the parking lot near the river. The trail makes an approximate half mile loop through cottonwood riparian habitat with extensive shrubby understory. The park is at its best during mid-August to late September when it acts as an effective fall migrant trap. The Loudy-Simpson nature trail is arguably one of the best migrant stopovers on the west slope. During the spring and summer months it hosts a good assortment of low elevation riparian species.

There is also a very pleasant two mile hiking/jogging trail that makes a loop around the perimeter of the park. This trail crosses cottonwood riparian, willow and grassland habitats and makes for a nice bird walk if you have extra time.

The portion of the oxbow lake to the east of Ranney Street is sometimes home to a family of Wood Ducks and is worth a quick look. The small pond (no public access) to the north of Loudy-Simpson Park has hosted some surprises over the years, such as Long-tailed Duck and White-winged Scoter, and can be viewed by walking over the foot bridge located at the end of the nature trail.

Craig also has some good quick birding spots, mostly ponds that are best visited during the fall or winter: Perch Pond: The "Perch Pond" is located along Highway 13 about midway between Craig and Meeker and constitutes the fresh water supply for the nearby Colowyo Coal Mine. The pond is worth a quick stop to look for waterfowl and marsh birds if you happen to be passing by.

Craig Station Inlet Pond: This pond can be reached by turning off Highway 13 onto Moffat County Road 107 about five miles south of Craig. The pond is reached by traveling about 0.6 miles east along CR 107. The pond is not accessible to the public but can be viewed from the road. Loons, grebes, mergansers and other deep water birds sometimes visit this water body during fall through spring. Barrow's Goldeneyes occasionally roost on the pond during the winter months.

WFMC Gravel Pit: Almost directly across (west of) the intersection of Hwy 13 and CR 107 is a BLM information turnoff. From this turnoff you can view gravel pit ponds that sometimes host pelicans, Tundra Swans (on at least two occasions) and other waterfowl. If you look way back to the west with a scope you may be able to spot nesting Bald Eagles in the cottonwoods lining the river.

Yampa River South of Craig: Along a two-mile stretch of the Yampa River, viewed from Highway 13 from the south end of Craig to a bridge over the river, variable numbers of Barrow's Goldeneyes and other waterfowl are often found during winter months. Viewing points from the highway are limited but with caution much of this river section can be viewed. The River Ridge Restaurant parking lot is a good viewing spot, but permission should probably be sought.

Craig Golf Course Road: The Yampa Valley Golf Course is located southeast of Craig. It can be reached by driving south on Ranney Street and turning left on Highway 394 (the Airport Road). Turn left (north) on the next major road toward the golf course. The golf course road has a few small ponds, wet meadows and marshes that are sometimes good for ducks, shorebirds and rails. If you follow Hwy 394 to the east of the golf course turnoff you can observe sub irrigated native hay fields that are good for Savannah Sparrow and Sandhill Crane. On at least one occasion, Bobolinks and a Dickcissel were found on this road.

Habitat: Urban/Suburban, Lowland Riparian, Sagebrush
Elevation:
Directions: Craig is along US-40 in easternmost Moffat County. Loudy-Simpson Park is located on the south side of Craig along the Yampa River. It can be accessed by turning off Highway 40 (Victory Way) in the center of Craig and traveling south on Ranney Street. After crossing the Yampa River, the next right (west) turn will take you into Loudy-Simpson Park. The best birding spot in the park is the Kiwanis Nature Trail located inside a Yampa River oxbow. The nature trail can be reached by turning right on the first road reached after entering the park. Take this road a quarter mile to the river. Directions to the other small sites are in the descriptions for each site, above.
Restrictions/Hazards:
Other Wildlife:
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