26th Annual Santa Fe Trail Auto Tour,  May 19-21, 2023



LAS ANIMAS, Colo. – The natural and cultural history of southeastern Colorado will be on display during the annual Bent on Birding Festival and 26th annual Santa Fe Trail Auto Tours, Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21 in Bent County.

The three-day event centers on birding, wildlife-watching and the cultural heritage of the area around Bent County. Birders can also get an insider’s view of some of the most spectacular private ranch land and petroglyphs in Colorado. More than 400 species of birds have been documented in this area.

“Bent on Birding provides an extraordinary opportunity to observe birds and wildlife in the amazing environment of the areas canyonlands,” said John Koshak, former Colorado Parks and Wildlife Watchable Wildlife Coordinator. “Participants have a rare invitation to tour some amazing ranches and meet the landowners whose management has protected our wildlife and wildlife habitat for generations.”

Event guides will host organized trips that will give birders a chance to seek sought-after birds such as the least tern, piping plover and black rail, along with eagles, ferruginous hawks and other native songbirds, shorebirds, raptors and waterfowl.  The tours wind along the Colorado Birding Trails, along the shores of John Martin Reservoir and on some of the most spectacular private-land wildlife habitats in SE Colorado’s cattle ranching and canyon country.

In addition to organized birding and wildlife outings, organizers have also lined up tours that feature historic, archaeological and cultural sites, such as prehistoric petroglyphs and historic sites along the Purgatoire and Arkansas Rivers, Colorado’s ‘most beautiful courthouse’, as well as the homes of frontiersman Kit Carson and ‘Gunsmoke’ actor, Ken Curtis.

There will be history, food and fieldtrips events in Las Animas all weekend.  A full schedule of ‘Bent on Birding & Heritage’ events is available online or email: bentonbirding@yahoo.com; or call: 719-456-0485, 719-456-1320.

The events are co-sponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Historical Society, Supporters of Colorado Preservation and Bent on Birding.

Bent on Birding is one of several cultural celebrations during the SE Colorado Heritage event.  At Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, the National Park Service hosts daily guided tours or an option to visit the ‘Sand Creek Site’.

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