We hit road construction soon after we left Steamboat Springs. Still, the scenery as we climbed through the mountains and across northern Colorado was inspiring. By mid-afternoon we arrived at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, created to provide a habitat for nesting migratory birds.
We drove the 6-mile auto tour route to see birds but were surprised to be greeted by unfamiliar animals.
It turns out there are 5 distinct species of prairie dogs: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison’s, Utah, and Mexico. We saw a number of the black-tailed prairie dogs as we drove through the refuge, but that number didn’t compare to a town in Texas “reported to cover 25,000 sq mi (64,000 km2) and included 400,000,000 individuals” that we read about on Wikipedia.
We took off in the late afternoon for our lodging that night, an AirBnB in Woods Landing-Jelm, Wyoming (population 97 in the 2010 census).
Judy and Dennis greeted us warmly and welcomed us to their hand-built house.
We enjoyed this creative and hard-working couple, wonderful AirBnB hosts. We were sorry to leave after just one night, but we needed to get to little Centennial, population 270, to meet our friends.
We consulted guidebooks for the most scenic hike in the area: the Lakes Trail, with the trailhead starting near Lake Marie.
We’ve hiked in many, many places and think the combination of scenery and hiking in the Snowy Range is amongst our favorite. (It’s also closer than our other favorites: Iceland, Switzerland, and New Zealand.) It was time for another visit to get in a few hikes, and we discovered that it was as good as we remembered.