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Stop 13: Croton Creek Wildlife Viewing Area

Directions: Return to downtown Cheyenne and go west on OK 47. After 4.7 miles check on the right for a herd of longhorns. As you cross Broken Leg creek, take a moment to bird the slough and beaver pond. Also stop and check the banks as 47 crosses East Croton Creek. Follow signs to Croton Creek Wildlife Viewing Area, on the left.

OK 47 shifts dramatically from rolling prairie to red shale hills. The wildlife viewing area has a 12-mile trail that loops around a large lake. The wildlife viewing area itself does not include lake frontage, but beautiful vistas, giant cottonwoods, elm, hackberry, locust and diverse grasslands run throughout the tract. Pay particular attention to the riparian creekside areas, where chickadees, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, both meadowlarks, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch (common in winter), Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat are all possible. Early fall is an excellent time to walk the creekbanks, particularly in early morning or early evening in order to view roosting Monarch butterflies. In fall, shiny sumac along the trail makes for wonderful photographic opportunities, as the brilliant red contrasts with the deep blue prairie sky. The prairie habitat provides a home for prairie rattlesnakes, diamondback rattlesnakes, rat snakes, bull snakes, and coachwhips. Rattlers are rarely aggressive, and will almost invariably retreat from people. Their warning rattle further decreases the possibility of being bitten. If you are lucky enough to see one of these snakes, take a moment to admire their beauty before they vanish into the grass.

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black kettle grassland