Estes Valley Land Trust | A sponsor’s mission to protect and preserve

Estes Valley Land Trust | A sponsor’s mission to protect and preserve

Tucked between the Roosevelt National Forest and Estes Park, there lies over 1,300 acres of sprawling Ponderosa pine forests, delicate wetlands and alpine meadows.

Estes Valley Land TrustMany of Colorado’s furrier denizens make their home in this vast open space.

In the colder months, bobcats stalk the ice covered earth. Elk bugle their haunting cries along the idyllic Cedar Ridge in the fall. Spring heralds the wildflowers campaign to retake their frozen world. In summer all of them can be found thriving, along with humans enjoying the camp grounds, equine area and stunning natural wonder.

Welcome to Hermit Open Space: a gorgeous public area and national park that in 2006 was marked for development and, ultimately, destruction.

Enter the Estes Valley Land Trust, an organization of dedicated volunteers and concerned residents. They’d seen this happen before- beautiful natural areas in Colorado that are snapped up and developed, leaving the native plants and wildlife with nowhere to go. Fortunately, the organization has been stopping these sad stories since 1989. They knew what to do.

Our ability to visit and enjoy Hermit Open Space today is proof of their success.



The Estes Valley Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) organization, accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

Working in a huge governmental and private partnership, the community pooled funds to buy the land, including Larimer County, the Town of Estes Park, the City of Loveland and the Erion Foundation to name a few. Together, they triumphed, and Hermit Open Space is protected- in perpetuity.

The Estes Valley Land Trust has collected many marks of victory in its 25+ years of operation.

Thanks to the organization, Medowdale Ranch, 1168-acres avoided a thirty-six way subdivision. Lilly Lake, once destined for 150 multi-building development, is now a part of the Rocky Mountain National Park. And now over 10,000 acres in over 150 different parcels of land are protected and preserved, without fear that they will ever be taken away.

In 2016 the organization is doing more good than ever. Right now they are running their 2016 Membership Campaign. If you are interested in getting involved, or know someone else that is, now is the time. By joining or recommending a friend, you will not only earn some cool gifts, but also be put into a drawing for a coffee table created by the master craftsmen, Leo Weber (valued at over $1,200).

Estes Valley Land TrustWe at Where is the Wildlife are ecstatic to call the folks at Estes Valley Land Trust our sponsors and friends.

If you would like to learn more about what they do, how they do it, and where you can help, please check out their website.

You will be very glad you did.

Bringing Your Dog: Rules and Etiquette

Bringing Your Dog: Rules and Etiquette

Bringing your furry companion on the trail is great fun and good exercise! Make sure everything goes smoothly by following these pet friendly tips.

Safety Tips

The great outdoors are not your neighborhood dog park, but that only makes the trip more exciting! Simply follow these safety tips to ensure everything goes smoothly.

•In most national parks and recreation areas: Pets must always be kept on leash. This safeguards both your dog and others. The great outdoors can be very thrilling to our four legged companions, but dangerous as well. Keep your dog from encountering poisons, other aggressive dogs, and wild predators.
Update all vaccines and make sure you have some flea and tick control. While cases of rabies in wild populations in the US is rare, it is not unheard of. Other illnesses like lyme disease and kennel cough (tracheobronchitis) can also be picked up on the trail.
•Make sure all identification markers are up to date. In case you and your dog are separated, these can be integral to your reunification. Including your name and number on the dog’s tags and ensure that they always wear them.

bringing your dog: exploring nature
bringing your dog

Pet Friendly Spots

Luckily the National Park System has a few fantastic sites around the country that make bringing your dog practically a given. However, not all areas in the parks are open for dogs, and they usually require your animals to be on leash. Check out the a full list here.
Additionally, there are many trails governed by smaller entities that allow pets. Bring Fido and Go Pet Friendly are two useful resources that can help you find local areas for you and your dog.

Keeping Your Pet Safe around Wildlife

Where’s the Wildlife is committed to promoting positive, enriching experiences for all species involved. Bringing your dog on your wildlife tour can be wonderful, but we ask you keep the following rules and regulations in mind. Check out our Code of Conduct for more information!

•Never, under any circumstances, allow your pet to chase after wildlife. Not only is it bad for the ecosystems they trample on, it is both traumatizing for the animal and endangering to their survival. The energy needed to escape your pet may make the difference between survival and starvation.
•Some wild animals can act aggressively around dogs. The largest concern is actually the littlest ones such as snakes and spiders.
•Please always clean up after your dog. Due to its composition, dog waste doesn’t improve soil fertility, and can actually be detrimental to nearby streams or riparian areas.

May you and your four legged companion enjoy your wilderness adventures!

Causes Worth Caring About: Poaching in the US

Causes Worth Caring About: Poaching in the US

Poaching in the US: The Consequences of Unauthorized Hunting

The word “poaching” tends to bring up images of massive elephant tusks and jaguars locked up in tiny crates. We think of lush Brazilian rainforests or the endless African savannah. Unfortunately we should also be thinking of our own coniferous forests and Great Plains at home. Poaching in the US is not only present, it’s serious. If fact, the United States in the number two illegal importer of animals (for both parts and pets) in the world.

What exactly is it?

The term ‘poaching’ is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “to trespass for the purpose of stealing game; to take game or fish illegally.” (Not to be confused with this kind of poaching).
In the US, poaching takes many forms. Beyond catching wildlife outside the hunting season or doing so without a license, legitimate hunters are prohibited from using machine guns, poison, explosives, pitfalls, baiting or vehicle/aircraft to capture animals. Unlike in economically depressed regions around the world, the social motivators for poaching in the US tend to be broader: including commercial gains, bringing home trophies and the thrill of killing wildlife.

poaching in the US: grizzly

How bad is it?

Pretty bad.

Poaching in the US takes a large toll on both the environment and local economies. As larger animals are removed from the ecosystem, a process known as defaunation, the entire ecosystem experiences imbalances. For example, without animals to eat the larger seeded trees, these tree populations expand such that they eventually drive smaller seeded trees to local extinction.

Economically, poaching is bad for business. This is true from rural Africa to the Rocky Mountains to the southern Atlantic coast. It is a vicious cycle: increased poaching leads to negative publicity and less wildlife tourism. This in turn hurts hotel owners, restaurants, wildlife-tour business; really anyone for whom their livelihood is tied up in tourism. In some areas the economic impact is so strong that locals have no choice but to engage in poaching themselves!

So, what can I do?

Poaching is an international problem that is as serious as it is daunting. Fortunately, if this has struck a chord with you, there is plenty to do about it right here in the US.

•Understand what IS and what ISN’T poaching. The US Fish and Wildlife Service offers a good guide explaining the differences between legal and illegal wildlife trade. Do your homework, don’t be this guy.
•When touring other parts of the country or the world, pay attention to what you are buying and taking home. Check out the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s rules and regulations regarding permits and “buyer beware” tips.
•Consider volunteering with a reputable conservation organization. They need YOU to keep doing their increasingly important work.

Have you ever been effected by poaching? Do you know a fantastic organization making real progress on the problem today? Tell us about it, leave a comment below!

5 Wildlife Apps to Use With Ours

5 Wildlife Apps to Use With Ours

These Free Wildlife Apps are Great Companions to Where’s The Wildlife and Can Truly Enrich Your Experience

Find Your Tribe

We at Where’s the Wildlife have noticed that a love and concern for nature tends to bring people together. NatureFind is an application that helps you do just that. Want to know what your local nature groups are up to? Learn about events happening wherever you are (or plan to be)? Then this app is a great place to start. Find others that share your passion for the outdoors.

•Search or add local events (get the who, when and where)
•Search or add areas of particular interest and index them by activity (including wildlife viewing!)

wildlife apps: what will you discover?

All About National Parks

All the information you could possibly need about US National Parks. It doesn’t use data or wifi. It’s GPS enabled. And it’s free. This app is the perfect companion to those using Where’s the Wildlife in any of our National Parks. On a time limit and trying to decide which one to go to? National Parks by Chimani gives you up to date info about what’s where and how to get there in the National Parks.


  • Use up to date maps to find and navigate your local parks (requires data/wifi)
  • Get the latest news about national parks near you
  • User friendly search functions to find what you need, when you need it: fast

For the Birds

Here’s a specific one for the bird watchers out there. Aubudon Bird Guide: North America is everything you could ever wish for in a mobile field guide. The sophisticated features are impressive and while they can be a little slower in remote mountain areas (as it works using data), they are absolutely worth the wait.

• Use their unique identification system to quickly find out just what you’re looking at
• Access general and migratory information about over 800 species of bird
• Admire some beautiful professional photography they’ve put up on their gallery
• Keep a list of your sightings and share them with friends!

What Am I Looking At?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell one chubby rodent from another, or differentiate between species of butterflies or types of deer. Map of Life seeks to assist. This application has an ambitious goal: bringing you information about over 30,000 species from around the world. Their database is user driven and growing. While it’s still being developed to bring more and more content, we can see a lot of potential!

• Identify just what you’ve seen
• Learn about species around you and where else they can be found
• Record and share about your animal sightings (syncs with

Pretty Pictures

For those times the photographer in you wants to take your wildlife picture to a new level (and you can’t access your heavy duty photo editing software), Google has create an app for you. Snapseed is rapidly becoming the smartphone photographer’s best friend. With a plethora of filters, effects and corrections, it can help your photos rise to their true potential.

• You don’t need to be a professional: Easy to use
• Tons of cool filters and textures to add
• Basic photo editing abilities like crop, rotate and transform
• Selective adjustment ability (for contrast, saturation, etc…)

Where’s The Wildlife has not received any monetary or other endorsement from these applications or their parent organizations. They are on this list because they deserve to be.

Got any more app suggestions? Do you have a wildlife app you cannot live without? Share it with us here!

Gorgeous Colorado State Parks: See Wildlife

Gorgeous Colorado State Parks: See Wildlife

Colorado State Parks that should be on your bucket list.

The Colorado State Parks system boasts over forty different parks, spanning from the Great Plains to the rolling foothills, and high mountain peaks. However if wildlife sightings are your goal, there are three places you simply can’t miss.

1.) Rocky Mountain National Park

Perhaps the one of the most famous parks in the state, the Rocky Mountain National Park is a huge reserve encompassing swaths of evergreen forest, alpine tundra, and some of the tallest mountains in the lower forty-eight. With so many different eco systems, the odds are good to find all sorts of wildlife.

In lower elevations, look for the riparian (wetland) areas. These life giving creeks and lakes support dense ecosystems of different fish, toads, salamanders and more. It’s easy to conduct your entire wildlife tour here. The park covers over 400 square miles!

Area Spotlight!

The Rocky Mountain National Park is perhaps best known for the bugling of the elk. In the fall, these majestic animals descend from their alpine homes, searching for mates. In order to signal the season for love, male elk make great “roars” that echo hauntingly off the surrounding mountain sides.

Make a trip to Estes Park (in the Moraine or Horseshoe sections) and seize the chance to hear these otherworldly calls. We cannot recommend it enough!

2.) Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Want to try something different? Check out one of the largest urban refuges in the country (yes, we really mean urban). The park has an extensive visitor center, which offers wildlife tours and nature programs, as well as great orientation information for the site.

Area Spotlight!

For the past 14 years, a pair of endangered bald eagles has made their home by one of the lakes. In fact, it was the first sighting of our national bird that prompted the transition to a national wildlife refuge! Accompanying the eagles are more than 280 more species of birds. Be sure to bring your binoculars and telephoto lenses!

3.) Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Nestled at the feet of the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this park looks as if some great being stole a bit of the Gobi Desert and dropped it in the middle of Colorado. However, unlike a barren desert, this park is teaming with life. Everything from the chubby American pika to the slinky mountain lion can be found in the park (though some are more easily spotted than others).

Area Spotlight!

For the photographers out there looking to shoot stunning backgrounds in their wildlife photos, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is fairly covered with them. There are five gorgeous alpine lakes, a multitude of sub alpine meadows littered with wildflowers and, of course, the iconic windswept sands of the dunes.

This list could surely be longer! Know any other fantastic parks to find wildlife? Want to add on to what’s here? Just say hi? Leave a comment! We always love to hear your feed back!

Wildlife Tour Preparation- 3 Easy Steps

Wildlife Tour Preparation- 3 Easy Steps

Wildlife Tour Preparation|| 3 Essential Steps to Get Ready for Your Coloradan Adventure

1.) Decide what kinds of wildlife you want to see/photograph in advance.

Colorado’s wildlife is as varied as it is magnificent. Part of the excitement of wildlife viewing is that you never know what you’ll find! However, if you still have moose babies or bugling elk on your bucket list, there are certain times and places where you may have better luck.

Do your homework and you are sure to be rewarded!

2.) Prepare for your season of travel

…as best you can. Coloradans know that it’s easy to experience the whole range of seasons in one day, sometimes in just a few hours! However bringing what you need to stay safe and comfortable will improve your trip dramatically.

Try to keep in mind the following weather-specific warnings when preparing for your wildlife tour:

Drastic Temperature Swings
These can get pretty crazy , and Colorado is infamous for them. A blistering day in Denver can easily turn utterly frigid at higher elevations. Then again, maybe not! Therefore it’s best to prepare for both: even in the summer, remember to bring a wind resistant jacket and long pants for the blustery mountain slopes.

It’s fast. It’s furious. And it can kill you. Contrary to popular belief, getting struck isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. The US has an estimated 273 injuries and 48 deaths every year due to lighting. If your adventures take you above the tree-line, be especially vigilant. Sudden afternoon storms are common in the Rockies, and can catch wildlife viewers unaware.

If you hear thunder, it’s time to find shelter. Lighting can strike as many as ten miles away from the center of the storm. Do your research, and make sure everyone in your party knows what to do in the event of a lightning storm.

High Elevation
Especially pertinent for our out-of-state visitors, note that most of the National Parks are above 8,000 ft. elevation. Some are as many as two miles high. Prepare appropriately by bringing plenty of water and sunscreen. To avoid mountain sickness give yourself time to adjust at higher elevations, and pay attention to any symptoms of dizziness, nausea or headaches.

•For more information, check out The National Park Service safety information.

wildlife tour preparation: beware of lightning storms!

3.) Dust off your photography skills

Though not exactly required, we at Where’s the Wildlife highly recommend adding photography to your wildlife tour, and sharing it with us! Your contributions are what make this app possible!

•Decide what kind of camera you are willing to take on the trail. Remember that there are inherent risks to bringing an expensive piece of equipment into the great outdoors. However, there are also certain features that make specialized cameras truly intrinsic to your wildlife tour.

•Look up some simple hints and tricks if you are new to wildlife photography (or brush up on the basics if you’re more advanced).

Have any other tips for wildlife tour preparation? Leave a comment! Tell us your experiences and share your story!