Jan 142009
 

For years we’ve played a family road-trip game in Colorado of “Elk, Deer, Antelope”. Basically the goal is to be first to see one of each on a trip, and we stretch this to include Bighorn Sheep/Moose when the country allows. Seeing deer is easy, they are often grazing up on the hillside, and Elk (when seen) are often in big herds, so stand out. Pronghorn are the most elusive because even when in plain sight they blend in so well.

Pronghorns Galore

I find them almost out of place on the Colorado plains, as if they came over from Africa and chose to stay (like me from the UK.) They are impressive (the second fastest land animal) and it is hard to see what natural predators they have out here. Watching them bolt, full speed across the ground, is a treat. Normally the stand or sit (bedded) and watch you go by w/o noticing them. Again, their coloring helps them blend in.

My tip for seeing Pronghorn is to visit here in the winter:

Eleven Mile State Park, CO

This is an impressive park, especially in the winter. The reservoir is large, and the park around it sits in the open plains exposed to the elements, and most rugged. The ice seem peaceful (as do the groups of ice fishermen) but on a warm CO winter day there are still wonders to see. Amusingly I’ve come across ‘wild’ herds of donkey and llamas on two trips; both coming to visit the car out of curiosity. Harrier scoured the land looking for small rodents. A barren landscape, but a good snowshoe (and possibly cross country ski) spot.

Last year I saw hundreds (quite possibly a thousand) of these guy on one afternoon. I drove the loop from Lake George to here and back (going the back roads) and did an almost 360 around the lake (as  much as roads & some trails allowed.) I started by seeing one or two herds of Pronghorn up on the hills, but soon I was in the thick of them. Both sides of the road, in small/large groups, crossing the road. Everywhere. WOW. I guess they’ve found a relatively protected place to winter.

This year I saw only a hundred or so. I suspect the important factor is time of year, last year I was there in March.

Great seeing them.