Friday, August 29, 2014

Buffalo Herd Overlook


If you drive west along Interstate 70 in Colorado, approximately 20 miles west of Denver, you will see this road sign before exit 254 advising you that there is the Buffalo Herd Overlook at that exit.  My husband and I pass this sign whenever we head up into the Rocky Mountains from our home, and we were always curious as to what we'd see when we got off this exit. (All photos in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)


This is what we saw at first when we drove off the exit--a pasture of grass and trees, surrounded by a twelve foot high, barbed wire topped fence.


There were warning signs on the fence, that the bison that lived within were owned and managed by Denver Mountain Parks City and County of Denver.  Denver has 46 mountain parks, with over 14,000 "pleasure acres" for the use of hiking, picnicking, and sightseeing in the Front Range foothills and the Rocky Mountains, all within an hour's drive of Denver.


This sign on the fence has been severely weathered and it's hard to read, but it tells the sad tale of the American Bison--the true name of the animal which is often incorrectly referred to as Buffalo. The North American Plains were once roamed by as many as 60 million wild Bison. As westward expansion occurred in the 1800's by gold prospectors, homesteaders, the US Army and railroads, there was a wanton destruction of these bison. They were slaughtered for their hides, as sport, and as a way to control the Native American population which relied upon bison as a major food source. By the late 1880's bison were nearly extinct, with less than a a few hundred left.  Fortunately, conservationists, such as President Teddy Roosevelt and William T. Hornaday, founded the American Bison Society to help prevent the total extinction of  bison. The last wild bison were contained in Yellowstone National Park. and the Denver bison are direct descendants of this herd. Two bull bison were brought to the Denver Mountain Parks system in 1914, and mated with bison cows from the Denver City Zoo. They have thrived over the years.



Since we did not see the bison in the meadow on the north side of the interstate, we drove back to the south side towards Genesee Park. There is actually a tunnel that the bison can use to travel under the interstate from one side to the other.  It connects the south and middle pasture to the north pastures.


Genesee Park is Denver's first and largest mountain park at 2,413 acres. We began to drive up Genesee Mountain which ascends from its base at 6,000 feet to its 8,284 feet summit.


As we drove, we finally saw the bison herd!  Twenty new calves were born this past spring, and if you look closely you can see them, as they are lighter in color.


The bison were eating machines, enjoying the wild grasses in the meadow.  The Bison is North America's largest land animal.  Males can stand six feet high and weigh between 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.  Females stand up to five feet tall and weigh 800 to 1,00 pounds. They are herbivores, grazing on grasses and sedges.


We enjoyed watching the bison for quite awhile.  The bison have about 743 fenced in acres to roam, and the herd numbers are kept under control, in order that they will have enough to eat.  Excess bison are auctioned off to help pay veterinary and maintenance fees.  Today, wild bison number around 19,820 nationwide, according to the Denver based National Bison Association.  An estimated 250,000 head are raised on ranches for hides and meat, although many of those bison have been interbreed with cattle, or carry cattle traits.  The largest herd of free roaming bison today are in Yellowstone National Park, with approximately 3,500 bison.


After watching the bison herd we then took a drive up towards the summit of Mt. Genesee. The day was overcast and threatening rain, but we could still see some of the distant mountain ranges.


When we arrived at the parking area near the summit we saw this couple enjoying the peaceful view and cool mountain air.


This collage are some of the berries, flowers and grasses we saw along Mt. Genesse's summit trail.   Photo upper left: Baneberry, photo upper right: Smooth Goldenrod, photo lower left: Gray Golden Aster, photo middle bottom: Hoary Alyssum. Last photo bottom right is of wild grasses.


The word Genesee is a Native American word for "shining valley" and seeing bison roam relatively free in this park was a shining moment for me!  I'll be looking for them again on future trips to Genesse Park.

Come back next blog post where I'll show you our exciting drive up to 14,000 feet on Mt. Evans. It's the highest paved road in North America!

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64 comments:

The Quintessential Magpie said...

How I loved seeing this, and I am so happy you got to see and share the bison herd!

I love touring Colorado with you, Pat. We have family in Boulder and some friends who just moved from Colorado Springs to Mobile. My sister spent a summer many, many years ago in Estes Park and loved it. If we ever get out that way, we will look you up!

Happy Labor Day to you!

xo

Sheila:-)

ellen b. said...

Such fabulous sights to see. How wonderful you have so many wonderful things so close to your new home!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Look at all of those bison. Wow, what a herd and the little ones too. We enjoy turning off and exploring too. I would be very happy sitting in those chairs enjoying the world too.
Sam

backroadjournal said...

No matter what direction you travel, you always have such interesting things to share with us.

Sue said...

Amazing sight to see, Pat! All those years Iiving in NM, I never saw bison. Lucky you. :-)

Linda said...

Hi Patricia,
Thanks for taking us along on your adventures.
I just thought I would let you know that I am browsing your posts on NYC again since I am thinking of returning there for another visit one day. LOVE how you share and offer a wonderful perspective of this vibrant city.
Hugs,
Linda at Beautiful Ideas

Barbara said...

I did not know about the tunnel under I-70 for the buffalo! How neat is that!

Betsy Adams said...

Oh what an awesome post, Pat... I'd love to visit that area also. There are just so many gorgeous areas of Colorado which I WANT to see sometime.

I loved watching the Bison when we were in Yellowstone. Such marvelous animals... Glad to hear that CO takes such good care of them...

Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Ni de Aqui, Ni de Alla said...

You so lucky! I've never seen a bison herd. Its sad what they have done to these animals to control the Native Americans.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Awesome! Definitely a 'shining moment' to see herds of buffalo. I think I could join that couple there at the overlook...and soak it all in for awhile. Thanks for sharing the info about bison...most interesting!

janiceadcock said...

Love all the bison shots.

Gunilla Bäck said...

How awesome to see a whole herd! I've only seen a few animals in captivity.

Ida said...

Wonderful post. I was hoping you would see the Bison and you did! I enjoyed your trip through this area through your pictures.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, it is cool seeing the bison. A nice herd with their cute babies.. Great shots! Thank for sharing your post with my critter party.. Have a happy weekend!

Cloudia said...

This was thrilling - seeing the herd.

Leaving the East (Philly/NYC) can feel like losing something, but there are compensations; and I'm here to tell you that one can survive quite nicely far from the center of things.

ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
=^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I enjoyed this post very much. I love seeing photos of animals in their natural habitat.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Good for you checking out the sign and finding the bison. Good on the city of Denver for having the forsight for having so many mountain parks.

Marie said...

Boy, I wish I'd talked yo you before we made the trip!!!:( We wanted to see bison and didn't know where to look. We were right there, of course on 70, as you can see from the posts I've been doing. Anxious to see the photos you took on Mt. Evans and how your visit compares to ours! If we ever get back up there, we'll look for this wonderful bison herd. Great photos! It must have been a thrill! Loved the wildflowers too.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful shots of the place.

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Lovely series of photos.......great to see the bison!

Happy Sunday!
Rubt

lindaakacraftygardener said...

wonderful to see the bison

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

This is interesting Pat. What do most of us know about bison? - what we've seen on television.
It's nice to know that this species has been brought back from near extinction but one thing bothers me. Are the bison freely mating with cattle or is a crossbreed been desirable?
Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday.

podso said...

I would have wanted to linger and watch these amazing animals for awhile. You two are seeing so much of your new state. I guess it's good to do while you are new there. You probably have seen far more than many who have lived there a long time!

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

Lovely scenery and sights..what a nice tour! :)

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I like the idea of bringing the folding chairs to sit and enjoy this magnificent view! Beautiful photos my friend! Hugs!

Beth said...

This was a very interesting post, Pat. I can tell that you are really loving life in Colorado! Good for you!

Barb said...

You saw quite a lot of bison, Pat - and the trip up Mt Genesee was pretty even on a cloudy day. We drove over Squaw Pass this week but didn't venture up Evans due to rain.

ladyfi said...

Wonderful shots of the bison.

Al said...
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Fun60 said...

That must be quite something to see a herd of Bison.

carol l mckenna said...

Oh I agree ~ love to see the buffalo roaming free and your photos are wonderful for OWT ~ !

artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Donna said...

My niece lives in denver and is getting married next year. I can't wait to explore Denver and the parks surrounding it....We have a Genesee Valley here which is also named after that same Indian name.

Beautiful flowers along the trail. Amazing to see bison in a park in a city although this is CO.

lorik said...

How exciting seeing a herd of bison. Recently I thought I saw bison...they turned out to be Scottish Highland Bulls. This week I have white bulls:) At first I thought yours were black bulls..and smiled...but bison....how lucky you were.

lorik said...

How exciting seeing a herd of bison. Recently I thought I saw bison...they turned out to be Scottish Highland Bulls. This week I have white bulls:) At first I thought yours were black bulls..and smiled...but bison....how lucky you were.

SmilingSally said...

Hello Pat,

How wonderful that you take us with you on each adventure! Thanks for sharing your good wishes and for your blues.

Have a Happy Blue Monday!

Christian Weiß said...

A wonderful area and great animals, they have something archaic.

Hannah said...

Your Colorado shots are wonderful, it's great they are taking such good care of the Bisons. I was always fascinated by the huge heads of the males. The babies are cute.

Jeanne said...

Hi Pat, thank you so much for your sweet comment. Of all the blog friends I would love to meet...It would be you. I mean it. I love your wonderful and interesting posts so much and I love you too. It has been a pleasure to learn about NY and now Colorado, each time I visit you. We have been to many places in Colorado and sometimes your photos and experiences brings those times in focus again. Most of all I love watching your precious family members having a wonderful life with you and your husband living near them. You made the right choice to move Pat.

We have been very close to the bison on occasion in Yellowstone Park. Bill has a great photo of a mother with her baby suckling. It hangs in his office. We once got caught behind a herd of bison walking on the road ahead of us. we had to drive very slow until a mile or more they went off to another grazing area. It was awesome watching them and many with their calves following along next to their moms. A special memory. I enjoyed your history of the bison too.

Have a wonderful week.
xo, Jeanne

Willow said...

Catching up on reading so many posts--I've been off line a lot lately. I especially enjoyed your post about the archeology dig as we participated in one a few years ago along Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mtns with our archeologist son. Also, this summer we drove through southeast Colorado on our way to Taos--what beautiful country!

chai-and-chardonnay.blogspot.com said...

Amazing animals!

La Petite Gallery said...

Hi Pat, these photo's are awesome I am going to copy one for a painting.
Do you think the comments have dropped off this summer? I have
not gotten many. This is a great post. yvonne

NC Sue said...

Great photography! I hope you'll link up with http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2014/09/shell-game-linky.html

Su-sieee! Mac said...

I love that they built a tunnel for the bison to walk back and forth to their lands. Thank goodness for people who have the vision and persistence to protect bisons. Thanks for the tour. If I ever go through that area again, I'm going to see the bison.
Take 25 to Hollister

Yvette said...

So beautiful to see these large animals roaming at will - well, almost at will. It's too bad they have to be fenced in and culled. But that's the reality of today. At least they are being kept from extinction. Thanks for sharing this, Pat. I love your enthusiasm, how you've fallen in love with your newish state of Colorado. Good for you.

ann said...

Welcome to Colorado. I grew up in Golden. My grandparents had a cabin on beyond the park at Beaver Brook. As a little girl, I always anticipated seeing the buffalo as we drove through. That was long before I70 when we drove the old highway 40. You have written a wonderful history of the herd and brought back some wonderful childhood memories for me with such great photos.

RandomWith Jack said...

Amazing pictures !

Al said...
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Arija said...

Great to see such a healthy herd of bison beautiful surroundings, lovely flowers and scenery too.

Mary Cromer said...

I love watching Bison. We actually have several herds within a few miles of here, but I know why they are here and so I take photos and then get sad ;) Love seeing them like this in a more wild setting!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Judith

The bison in the bison herd in Colorado have been kept as genetically pure as possible, I read that their DNA is 99.9% pure bison. What private bison owners are doing on ranches, however, have been to mate them with cattle. I think it improves the quality of the bison meat that the ranchers sell. Bison meat is very popular in Colorado and other western states and is catching on elsewhere, as it is very lean and tender. It tastes like a juicy beef beef steak with less fat. I believe the bison in Yellowstone are very pure bison, but there have been instances when they have roamed onto ranches in Montana, so who knows what happens then? There are no fences around Yellowstone so it is very possible for the bison to roam off its boundaries naturally.

Thanks for the question!

Pat

Jacqueline said...

They are so beautiful. We got to see a lot of them right on the road with us when we snowmobiled in Yellowstone a few years ago. They were a little intimidating that close.

Tracy said...

Hi, Pat! So good to catch up with you here! And to see all the bison! To think how may there once were once upon a time... Such wonderful imagines in this and your previous post. It's such fun to see the mid-west/west from your experiences. And September already?! Where has the summer gone?! LOL... I love this time of year, though. Summer was HOT, hot for here, so autumn's cool is welcome. In a lot of ways this is my favorite time of year--new beginnings, new openings, and then slowing down as we near Christmas.. Whoops, I said the c-word! ;o) Happy Days to you all there, Happy Autumn! ((BIG HUGS))

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Pat, It is so fun to compare your photos now to your old ones. Wow, things sure changed and I am hoping that you love the changes and the proximity to your family.

Cheers!

Sharon

Kalantikan said...

Oh that was wonderful, i love seeing mountain layers with different colors, i always look for that in such landscapes. And the bison are so lovely, i didn't know there's already a lot of them. Thanks.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Great photos of the bison! Quite a treat!!

Jim said...

Interesting.
Sydney – City and Suburbs

Daniela said...

I'm feeling so guilty having had so little time for the pc lately, our work in Tenuta Geremia during this last month has made us all far too busy, and I think it's going to be the same for September too ... I do apologize with you both if my visits here have been so few, I do love so much coming here, I feel at home in your cozy corner, but, believe me, I'm even sleeping few hours each night to do as many things as possible ... you know, this is the season of preserves in Italy, and we've lots of fruits tree and vegetables !

And so, sure you do understand me, with all my love I wish you all the very best for this weekend, enjoy your late summer that looks so much lovely seen in your pictures, amiable, so chaming and very beautiful, as usual, and believe me your more and more fond friend
Hugs
xox
Dany

Marie said...

I can't believe they closed the road up Mt. Evans so soon in the season! Wow! Glad we went when we did. Of course, our vacations generally revolve around our grandson's school schedule. They started back in mid-August!!! :-( Thanks for your comments. Looking forward to more of your posts!

The Gathering Place said...

Pat, you lead an interesting life! I love all the information and places you visit, and share. Thanks again!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Thanks for the tour Pat. It's so great that these bison have a place to roam free. I'll never forget seeing them up close and personal when we visited Yellowstone years ago.

Susie said...

Pat, I know you are enjoying the adventures of nature. So much to see out there . I have to say though, I truly miss all the big city adventures you took us on . I'll be in Denver on a lay over next Wednesday. LOL. I'll think of you. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

Claudia said...

I remember the thrill of seeing the buffalo herds in Yellowstone. There's also a nice, healthy herd in Custer State Park in North Dakota (and a lot of too-friendly donkeys). It's a thrill isn't it - seeing them in the semi-wild. One can only imagine their magnificence when the buffalo truly roamed.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

How fun that we both were enjoying bison herds this past week! Ours were on Antelope Island and they walked right in front of our car. Aren't they magnificent? (And yummy as burgers too?)

Proud Italian Cook said...

Pat those majestic views are out of this world, so beautiful but those switchbacks with no guard rails would panic me, I don't know how you did that!