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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR

November 18th, 2008 · 6 Comments

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After visiting Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge yesterday, I said I would soon be visiting one of the other wildlife refuges in Colorado that I hadn’t visited before. I went as soon as possible.

This morning was out because of an appointment. So I went this evening to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge for the first time.

This wildlife refuge was a chemical weapons manufacturing facility during World War II, and then Shell used it to make pesticides and herbicides until 1982, when they began to clean it up. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took it over in 1992.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR is now a huge 17,000 acres of open prairie just 11 miles northeast of Denver. I saw huge flocks of birds, several deer, two coyotes, and lots of peaceful countryside.

Today was even warmer than yesterday, reaching 78 degrees here. But fortunately the sky was cloudy this afternoon.

I used to think that clear skies were better than a cloudy day. But that was before I became a photographer. Cloudy skies, like this one over Lake Mary in the NWR today, show what I mean:

Lake Mary, Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR

Lake Mary, Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR

My hike today took me around little Lake Mary and the much bigger Lake Ladora. Here is the creek that feeds that lake:

The Creek

The Creek

As I continued on my lake loop, I hiked out on the high plains around Lake Ladora at sunset. Here you can see a bit of the lake across the open prairie:

Lake Ladora Sunset

Lake Ladora Sunset

But I was running out of time. I took this photo just before 5. The ranger at the gate said he would lock up the refuge at 6.

So I had an adventure. Knowing that I had to hurry, I hiked cross-country around the right side of the lake, gambling that I wouldn’t come to any stream or a fence or thicket I couldn’t make my way through.

I made it. And then a few minutes later I was on Interstate 270 in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic headed back to Boulder. What a contrast to the serenity of the prairies!


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Posted in: Hiking

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pat Dedmon // May 13, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I would love to see more of your photos of the RMA wild life preserve. I lived in the old farm house next to the visitor center from 1966 to 1969. My father was a sergent Major on the base.

    I have lived in California since 1969.

  • 2 David Mendosa // May 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Dear Pat,

    Thanks for asking! I just made a note to go back there and take more photos for you. Right now I’m at a convention of endocrinologists in Houston and my telephoto lens is back at Canon for repair after I fell with it. But I should have it back in three or four weeks and that would be one of the best times to go there. Please keep watching for my photo essays here.

    Best regards,


  • 3 Renata Green-Gaber // Sep 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Hello -

    I am a fledgling indie film director that is looking to shoot a feature film dedicated to U.S. troops as a massive greeting card from the American people. The name of the film is “Stand the Gaff”and I came across your photo of the Lake Ladora Sunset that is a striking image to help represent the feel of this project.
    The film touches on some of the tough issues soldiers face, eloquently delivered with humor and grace.

    If this is an image created by you, I am humbly asking if you would consider allowing me a
    royalty free license to use your image in our fund-raising efforts (with your photo credit and a link to your web page of course) to help support a grass roots campaign that we hope catches national attention and inspires public action.

    You can visit the website at
    to see how your image would be utilized. If you would like your image removed please notify me ASAP!

    We are looking to have our site go public this Saturday Sept. 26th.
    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thank you so much.

    Best regards,

    Renata Green-Gaber
    Indie Filmmaker

  • 4 David Mendosa // Sep 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Dear Renata,

    Thanks for asking! I took that photograph and am glad to share it with you.


  • 5 Jim Collins // Feb 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Hi David,

    I just recently came across your website and saw a photo from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, “The Creek:” really a great shot. I am a beginning artist and wonder if you would grant permission to try and capture on canvas what you did with a photo. I’ve enjoyed looking at a lot of your other pics; keep on shooting.

    Best Regards,


  • 6 David Mendosa // Feb 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Jim,

    I would be delighted if you could capture my photo with your artistic ability, so I am glad to grant you permission to do so!