Rarely far from water, eagles can be found in a number of places around the state of Colorado. The best season to spot eagles is during the winter, as more than 1,000 bald eagles pass through the Centennial State through late-February.
Here are a few spots around Colorado where you're likely to spot bald eagles:
Editor's Note: Bald eagles are wild animals and unpredictable. Visiting a spot where they're known to frequent is no guarantee that one will be seen. Find four tips at the bottom of this piece that will increase your chances of a successful sighting.
1. Barr Lake State Park
A favorite destination among Colorado's birders, Barr Lake State Park is home to more than 370 species of birds throughout the year, including bald eagles. Found near Brighton, a nesting pair lives at this park, known to raise young each year.
Though not a service that runs during the winter season, birders should be aware of Barr Lake's Eagle Express. It's a motorized 13-passenger cart that takes visitors on naturalist-guided tours from May through September.
Find more info here.
2. Eleven Mile State Park
Located roughly an hour-and-a-half west of Colorado Springs, Eleven Mile State Park is another spot known for eagle spotting. It's home to a large reservoir with a thriving salmon population in an area dubbed 'Dream Stream.'
3. St. Vrain State Park
Visit St. Vrain State Park near Longmont during the winter for a chance to spot a bald eagle. There are 14 ponds located in the park, providing the perfect habitat for many species. Another unique species found here can be spotted during the summer – American white pelicans.
4. Highline Lake State Park
Found in northwestern Colorado near Loma, Highline Lake State Park has been dubbed an 'Important Bird Area' by the National Audubon Society, thanks to providing a home for more than 200 species of birds. Bald eagles are frequently spotted here during winter months.
5. Yampa River State Park
A spot that's also known for attracting sandhill cranes during their annual migration, Yampa River State Park is home to nesting bald eagles. Find Yampa River State Park just west of Steamboat Springs.
6. Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Site
The large variety of birds at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Site attract birders year-round. Find both golden and bald eagles at this destination, along with more than 100 other species of birds.
7. John Martin Reservoir State Park
Found in Bent County, John Martin Reservoir State Park is one of the best birding spots in the state. Along with two federally protected shorebirds – the least tern and the piping plover – bald eagles can be found at this destination. The large reservoir is a great spot for eagles to hunt and live.
8. Trinidad Lake State Park
Though eagles can be tricky to spot here year round, Trinidad Lake State Park has been known to attract bald eagles during the winter. Find Trinidad Lake State Park four miles west of Trinidad, Colorado, near the state's southern border.
9. Sweitzer Lake State Park
A great park for spotting waterfowl, Sweitzer Lake State Park is found near Delta, between Grand Junction and Montrose. It's home to a 137-acre reservoir and is a popular bird-watching spot. Eagles have been known to frequent this area.
10. Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area
Designated as an "Important Bird Area" by the National Audubon Society, Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area is home to bald eagles during winter months of the year. Open daily from dawn to dusk, two popular trails that lead to viewing areas include the Sandpiper Trail and Cattail Flats Trail, subject to seasonal closure to protect roosting. This spot is found near Fort Collins.
11. Standley Lake Regional Park
Found in Jefferson County, Standley Lake Regional Park is a spot that takes pride in their eagles, maintaining an active social media presence that helps to document their activities. Watch the live 'eagle cam' online to see what these majestic birds are up to or visit the park to catch the action in real life.
12. Lake Pueblo State Park
Home to Pueblo Reservoir, Lake Pueblo State Park is a great place to go eagle spotting thanks to the ample food source provided by the large lake. This Front Range destination is located roughly an hour south of Colorado Springs.
Four tips for spotting bald eagles:
1. Look near water sources including rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. This is where bald eagles tend to find their food, thus they rarely travel far from these spots.
2. Utilize binoculars. This will greatly improve your chance of getting a good look at a bird.
3. Go spotting on a cold day. Eagles tend to stay perched for longer periods when it’s frigid, making them more predictable and easier to see.
4. Dawn and dusk are good times to spot roosting eagles. Eagles tend to collect in one spot when they turn in for the night. Look in lakeside tree groves.