Blog Archives

Keep Local Wildlife Wild

A red fox spotted near the Maroon Bells visitor center.

Saturday, August 18 was a beautiful day at the Maroon Bells. A much-needed rain greeted us in the morning, with the entire Maroon Creek valley overflowing with clouds. As the clouds lifted, the vegetation felt lush and animals soon began to stir. Before long, a red fox emerged to enjoy the freshly moistened montane meadow in the shadow of the picturesque Maroon Bells. Surprisingly, this fox showed little to no fear of humans, walking right up to a group of people waiting for the bus.

Hummingbird Study | July 17, 2018

Rufous Hummingbirds observed during Morning Birding with ACES.

Walking through the forest in and around Aspen, it is not unusual to hear the loud, high-pitched vibration of a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird whizzing past. The males of this species have specialized primary feathers that taper out and away from its body to create this sound, announcing its presence while aggressively defending its territory. The Broad-tailed “hummer” is commonly-recognized as our resident species, but is actually one of four hummingbird species that can be found in the Roaring Fork Valley. 

Horsehair Worms!

The Crater Lake Trail at the Maroon Bells demands that one spend quite a lot of time looking down at their feet. The 1.8-mile trail eventually becomes relentlessly rocky, passing through talus fields and rockslide remnants that require careful footwork of even the more experienced hikers.

The roaring Fork is Roaring

Roaring Fork River streamflow

The Roaring Fork River has certainly been living up to its name this past week, reaching peak flow thanks to a combination of steady warm temperatures, melting snow in the high country, and the suspension of the Twin Lakes diversion near the river’s headwaters (more on that in a minute). As water recreationalists rejoice during this period of high flow, water managers and conservationists have been keeping a close eye on how the annual spring runoff progresses.

Snow and Water in the Roaring Fork Valley

The winter of 2016-17 is off to a great start here in the Roaring Fork Valley! 2017 kicked off with two big storm cycles, each dropping feet of snow on our mountains bringing smiles to the faces of skiers across town. But more importantly, these recent storms have significantly bolstered our snowpack.

Native Flows and the Functions of North Star Nature Preserve

Over the past two weeks temperatures rose, snow in the high country melted, and creeks and rivers hit their high mark for the year in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley. 

We have been very interested in how the shutting down of the Twin Lakes diversion affected Roaring Fork River (RFR) flows into North Star Nature Preserve and Aspen. For more about on the Twin Lakes diversion check out this article from Aspen Journalism.

A Conversation with E.O. Wilson

Naturalists are inspired by anything that draws them further into nature. Often it is the grace of a bird or the smell of a flower that grabs our attention and pulls us in. One of the strongest sources of inspiration for me is ants. I have a deep interest in social evolution, and anyone who spends considerable time thinking about how societies evolve will eventually (and perhaps inevitably) become fascinated with ants.

What Color is the Black Bear?

Summer is in full swing at Hallam Lake and I’m willing to bet most of us are excited for the warm days, green plants, and vivid wildflowers. Black bears, skinny from their lengthy winter slumber, are probably more excited than all of us. It is officially bear season in the Roaring Fork Valley and last week our motion-activated trail cameras snapped pictures of three different bears visiting the Hallam Lake preserve.

First Snowfall up Castle Creek

The first snowfall of the year is always a special occasion.  Having lived at Toklat a couple years, I am starting to notice the changes from year to year.

Summer Bugs!

Insects are some of the most diverse, abundant and ecologically important organisms on the planet.  It may not surprise you that insects can be found just about anywhere, but the quantities in which they appear will probably astound you.