THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
The majestic vistas of the High Rockies adorn many a travel brochure with pristine forests, lakes and peaks stretching off into the blue yonder. Roads make these areas both accessible and busy, however it is quite possible to find quiet flower and butterfly-filled meadows and tundra away from the crowds that populate the honeypots within the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park.
We’ll visit high passes where White-tailed Ptarmigan crouch in the tundra amongst Senecio soldanella, Saxifraga austromontana, Iris missouriensis, fabulous Calochortus gunnisonii, Corydalis aurea, Lewisia pygmaea and locally endemic Ipomopsis globularis. Indeed we can wander all day without seeing another soul along trails where we can see Moose, Three-toed Woodpecker, Arctic Fritillary and a host of flowers including Gentianella acuta, Twinflower, Pyrola asarifolia, Swertia perennis, and lovely fringed Parnassia fimbriata.
Scarlet Gilia lines the roadsides on the way up to Pikes Peak alongside clumps of Aquilegia coerulea, the state flower, impressive Oenothera caespitosa, Zigadenus venenosus, Phacelia sericea, Mertensia ciliata and a fine deep purple form of Penstemon whiplleanus. We’ll reach tundra with gorgeous Primula parryi, Primula angustifolia, Eritrichium nanum, Lloydia serotina, Trifolium nanum, Caltha leptosepala and Castilleja occidentalis...... and up here we can see Colorado Chipmunk, American Pika, and of course synonymous with the Rockies, Bighorn Sheep. Gambel’s Quail, Canyon Wren and Pinyon Jay can be seen amongst the incredible arid landscapes of the Colorado National Monument whilst White-tailed Antelope Squirrel are very tame.
Large stands of tall Corydalis caseana colour forests of Engleman Spruce and Subalpine Fir which garland the lakes and meadows of the Grand Mesa, a plateau situated around 11,000 feet above sea level. Yellow-bellied Marmot whistle sharply as we approach their homes in gardens of Penstemons, Pedicularis, Polemonium foliosissimum and Polemonium pulcherrima. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds nectar in the superbly bright Castilleja rhexifolia flowers. We’ll be distracted from photogrpahing lovely Calochortus gunnisonii by butterflies including Weidemeyer’s Admiral and Great Spangled Fritillary. We’ll see Western Tiger Swallowtail and Milbert’s Tortoiseshells, and there’s also Northwestern Fritillary, Coronis Fritillary, Green Comma, Blue Copper, Ruddy Copper, Purplish Copper and Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur. Small alpine lakes dot the landscape at Loveland Pass. Here there are still snowpatches even at this season and around them we’ll seek Brown-capped Rosy Finch and Cassin’s Finch, and photograph Chinophila jamesii, Viola adunca, Ranunculus adoneus, and the scarce scree endemic Aquilegia saximontana.
Rocky Mountain Parnassian, Colorado Alpine, Edith's Checkerspot, Hoary Comma, Melissa Arctic and Mead's Sulphur are amongst some really special butterflies that will be seen on Mount Evans where we’ll travel the highest paved road in North America. Fantastically twisted, gnarled and very ancient Bristlecone Pines are an amazing sight and nearby we’ll find yet more alpine beauties in the shape of Erigeron pinnatisectus, Lewisia pygmaea, Gentiana prostrata, Phlox condensata, Oxytropis lambertii, Allium geyeri, Saxifraga hirculus, Claytonia megarrhiza, Polemonium viscosum, Saxifraga chrysantha and Saxifraga hirculus.
Flowers & Butterlies. Also Birds, Mammals and Scenery.
Very easy. No more than three or four miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace ideally suited to photographers. Occasionally on rough ground but mostly on trails and paths.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in the USA. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 15. Only one leader will accompany a group of 8 or less.
For the first three nights of the tour we’ll stay at the Outlook Lodge in Green Mountain Falls. Though dating from 1889 this little hotel has nicely modernized rooms with all the usual facilities and a lovely location set in woodland with plenty of birds and butterflies in the environs. Then we’ve four nights in the pretty Wine Country Inn in the historic town of Palisade. Surrounded by twenty-one acres of vineyards there are two wineries within walking distance. The rooms are large, light and very comfortable. For the main part of the tour we’ll stay at the lovely Chateau Chamonix in Georgetown. Located in a quiet situation in town by a rushing artificial stream this hotel has only ten rooms so likely we’ll be the only occupants. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are direct from London to Denver. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* may be available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Though mid-summer this tour is mostly at an altitude of over 2000m so temperatures are generally very pleasant. Daily maxima reach 23°C – 27°C in Georgetown (altitude 2600m) and Green Mountains Falls (altitude 2600m), though most of our day trips will be a little higher and therefore a little cooler. At night temperatures drop to around 10°C. It is warmer in Palisade as it is lower, with daily maxima often reaching around 30°C.Rain will occur but will not amount to much, occasional showers are the norm.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.
Flower, butterfly, bird and mammal checklists are available.