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Cherokee Winter Nature Tour - At Cherokee Ranch and Castle

Those lucky enough to have hiked Cherokee Ranch know that there are a wealth of habitats and a rich flora that distract your eyes downwards, even as the vistas of the rugged backbone of the Rockies and distant misty towers of downtown Denver tempt you to look further away. We have experienced toasty winter days that were breathless and surprisingly sunny, as well as blustery days in the summer. One thing is for sure—you will never be bored on a Cherokee hike! This year we are starting much earlier—for better birding. But the plants will already be awake!


Whoever says winter is the “dormant” season? Wise naturalists know that nature does not sleep, you can now SEE those birds flitting in the bare branches. Buds are set on everything, and there is much more than just bark, branches and berries to liven a walk. You can see two species of Chickadees and Nuthatches that never stop in their search for food and there are a few last lingering hints of flowers. You will be surprised at how many evergreens there really are; not just pines and junipers and Oregon Grape, but many of our native shrubs and forbs keep living foliage and rosettes through the winter: they are still hard at work chlorophyll pumping! You might also be surprised to know that some Dark-eyed Juncos fly all the way from the Pacific Northwest and even Canada to winter at Cherokee. Other winter species include Flicker, Woodpeckers and a resident Red-tailed Hawk. What better time and place than Cherokee Ranch in the bright, winter light.



$20 member, $25 non-member.


Tour Guides: Panayoti Kelaidis and Lynn Willcockson




* Plants don’t really care how you dress for the field trips but BIRDS DO!! It is easier to see birds if you DO NOT wear white or other very bright colors –i.e. yellow, orange or red. Also, bring your binoculars: they can be used for both birds and plants

* Please wear comfortable shoes and bring your own supply of water for a 2 hour adventure

*Directions and details for your hike will be emailed to your email address approximately one week before your hike



Colorado Ecosystems and Native Plants Field Trip

Rocky Mountain Gardening Elective

The ecosystems of Colorado range from plains grasslands to the alpine tundra, mountain meadows to sub-alpine forests and all the points in between.

This field trip allows students to study the amazing diversity of plant and animal life that co-exist within these ecosystems and be able to identify each community by physical appearance and other site characteristics.

The class starts and ends in Morrison and we will survey the majority of ecosystems in the state.

The reference text for this course is From Grasslands to Glacier by Cornelius Mutel and John Emerick. The text is currently out of print, but used copies can be found online for purchase.


$72 member, $82 non-member.


Instructor: Sheridan Samano

The carpool will meet offsite and gas expenses for drivers will be shared.

Offsite meeting location for carpool will be be determined no later than 2 weeks before trip. Students will be notified via email.



High Altitude Garden Tour - Fall

Come cool off in the mountains at the second high-altitude garden tour featured this year at Penn and Cord Parmenter’s ranch in the beautiful Wet Mountains.


This is the “Vegetable Walk of Fame” – a tour designed specifically to see the gardens bursting with late summer harvest. See corn in succession, pumpkins on the vine, cool weather veggies, herbs, flowers and lots and lots of tomatoes. There will be seed saving in progress, which is sure to inspire some taste-testing as well and even a visit to Cord’s blacksmith shop.


Seeing is believing, and once you’ve seen Penn and Cord's mountain gardens loaded with food, you will want to go right home and start growing vegetables!


Penn’s Forest Garden is in the trees on a decomposed granite mountain and has a collection of over 45 raised beds – built with dry-stack rock or wood.


Cord’s Bio-Intensive Garden is in the open and down the mountain in the rich bottomland soil, featuring 28 large bio-intensive beds, a fleet of covers and a few well-placed hail guards.


This walking, talking, educational tour includes demonstrations, examples and two totally sustainable passive solar greenhouses. The setting is gorgeous; bring your camera, a sack lunch, water, the usual stuff …


$25 members, $30 non-members


Tour Location:

12746 CR 255

Westcliffe, CO 81252

North of Westcliffe

South Central Colorado

Wet Mountains

Participants meet at the tour site ready to start at 12 p.m.


Come prepared for 8,140 ft. in the ‘fall’. See you on the mountain!


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