The Illinois River meanders through Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

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Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Colorado

For bird-watchers, this is one of the best destinations in Colorado: nearly 200 species of birds frequent the summer sagebrush and wetlands of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, 105 (long, if lovely) miles west of Fort Collins by the Cache la Poudre–North Park Scenic Byway (Hwy 14). The star of the show is the sage grouse and its spring mating ritual – the lek – an elaborate, territorial display of spiked tail feathers, puffy chests and nearly comical braggadocio.

To find the Refuge Headquarters head 8 miles south of Hwy 14 via Hwy 125, then 1 mile east on Jackson County Rd 32.

If you are visiting the refuge or its surrounding backcountry, the dusty hamlet of Walden is the nearest place for a hot shower and decent shelter.

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