Denver March 26, 2020
The Massive Wildlife Refuge Just Outside Of Denver That’s So Worth A Visit
You may be surprised to discover that just 8 miles northeast of Denver, lies an over 15,000 acre area of land filled with natural habitats for over 330 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. What you may find even more interesting is the transformation that this beautiful refuge for wild animals has undergone through the years.
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This expansive piece of land, which is now overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has its roots as a home for the plains Indians who began living off the land after following large herds of bison to the area.
For the first time in over a century, over two dozen bison now roam this short grass prairie once again.
After transitioning to farmland for growing crops and grazing cattle, the U.S. Army utilized the land as a chemical war-time manufacturing site following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
After the war, Shell Chemical Company began producing agricultural chemicals on this site.
Not surprisingly the land became toxic with contaminated soil and groundwater and in the 1980's the Army and Shell Co. underwent an extensive environmental clean up of the area.
Soon after, a roost of bald eagles was discovered at the arsenal which really kickstarted the recovery of the land and led Congress to designate the site as a national wildlife refuge in 1992.
The Arsenal's clean up was complete in 2010 and is has now grown to one of the largest urban refuges in the entire country.
Each season, visitors to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge have the unique opportunity to view wildlife in their natural setting just outside of the city.
Bring your camera and your binoculars and prepare to encounter black-footed ferrets, deer, coyote, burrowing owls, bald eagles, bison, and many more beautiful wild creatures as you reconnect with nature.
There are a variety of ways to make the most of your time at the refuge and view the animals in this gorgeous setting.
There are 10 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails for those who would like to explore the area and find wildlife viewing opportunities by foot. Or, there is also a beautiful self-guided wildlife drive auto tour that takes visitors on a 9 mile drive navigating through bison pastures, grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands.
You also have the opportunity to take part in a free guided nature program or wildlife viewing tour.
To take part in these public site tours, you must make reservations at the Visitor Center.
Another popular feature of the refuge is the catch and release recreational fishing opportunities.
From mid-April through mid-October, guests can pay a small fee to fish for Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, White and Black Crappie, Bluegill, and Yellow Perch on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Come experience the remarkable transformation this once toxic land has made as it has become a beautiful home for numerous species who now thrive in this large oasis just outside of Denver.
It's best to arrive early in the morning or late afternoon as the wildlife are more active at these times of day.
Visiting the refuge is free and is open to guests from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week. The Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The Visitor Center is located just inside the refuge entrance and includes an interactive exhibit hall that is filled with information on the site's history as well as showcasing the wildlife that can be found at the refuge. You may also want to visit the Discovery Room which is filled with wildlife activities, seasonal crafts, and hands-on displays.
You will find the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge at
6550 Gateway Road in Commerce City, CO 80022.
Have you had the chance to encounter wildlife at the refuge in the past? We’d love to hear all about your experience and see photos in the comments section below.
There are more opportunities to view wildlife near Denver than you might think. Check out this
Wildlife Park Near Denver That’s Perfect For A Family Day Trip.