My friend Sharon and I took a chance on the weather this week. The weather prediction for North Park called for it to be overcast and wet, but we made a photo safari there anyway.
While we did get a lot of rain, we also lucked out on enough sun to make the photographs that we wanted. I wanted to return to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, which I had most recently visited three years earlier. I wanted to see the waterfowl there.
Although Sharon also loves to photograph birds, she most wanted to see moose. Colorado has about 600 moose, almost all of which are in the North Park area. Walden, the only incorporated town in Jackson County, which covers most of North Park, is — by decree of the Colorado Senate — the “Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado.”
With a population of about 700 — half of Jackson County’s residents — Walden has most of the county’s accommodations. We got rooms in downtown Walden’s old and pleasant Antlers Inn.
North Park isn’t a park in the usual modern sense of a place set aside for human recreation and enjoyment. Instead, it is a park in the sense of a broad, fairly level valley between mountain ranges. About three hours northwest of Boulder, North Park sits at between 8,000 and 9,000 feet.
Covering 1,613 square miles, North Park is grassland, brush, and streams. It’s the headwaters of the North Platte River.
We made several visits to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, which is just a couple of miles south of Walden. There and in the surrounding area I saw the waterfowl that I went to see as well as raptors and hummingbirds.
Between the refuge and the town we saw a lake of amazing beauty. A part of the Walden Reservoir or just next to it, this lake is covered with a water flower, perhaps a water lilly, that neither of us had ever seen before.