Wild Basin and Trail Ridge Road

Black Swifts were reported from the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. I took a Wednesday off work and drove up early. Wild Basin is in the southeast corner of the park, reached by a rutted dirt road. When I arrived, a park official came up to my window to tell me there were just a few open spots in the parking lot. Which I thought was funny. What did I care? I only needed one. 

Anyway, I hiked to Ouzel Falls and back, a round trip of about 5.4 miles. There weren’t a lot of birds around, and I didn’t get a hint of Black Swifts. But the trail was beautiful. It ran along the North Saint Vrain Creek, with lots of rapids and waterfalls. 

When I got back to the car, I decided to continue up to the main section of the park and drive Trail Ridge Road in hopes of scaring up a White-tailed Ptarmigan. This was a mistake. It extended my day by four hours or so and all I saw were tourists. The road and all the parking areas were packed. I did get out and hike a couple of the short trails above timberline, but without any significant bird sightings.

Here’s what I saw on the day.

While on one of my hikes along Trail Ridge Road, I photographed a butterfly I’d never seen before.

#54 — Phoebus Parnassian (parnassius phoebus)

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