Hutton Lake NWR

Hutton National Wildlife Refuge lies in the Laramie Basin, SSW of Laramie, Wyoming.  This preserve, established to protect habitat for migrant waterfowl, is reached via a series of dirt-gravel roads that are easily traversed by most vehicles.  Drive southwest on Highway 230 from Laramie and proceed to mile marker 12; turn left (south) on Brubaker Lane (County Route 37), which soon crosses the Laramie River, and follow it until it curves to the east and intersects Sand Creek Road.  Turn left and proceed a few more miles to the refuge entry road, on the left.

Set amidst vast sage grasslands, the refuge also includes Hutton Lake, an adjacent marsh, a pond and a large seasonal lake that attracts migrant shorebirds.  The access road leads to an observation deck along the marsh and to a duck blind on the pond; walking trails lead from these areas for close inspection of the lakes and grassland.  Visitors will likely see an excellent variety of wildlife as they drive from Highway 230 to the refuge entrance; these include pronghorns, western meadowlarks, horned larks, vesper sparrows, a large diversity of raptors (especially northern harriers) and white-tailed prairie dogs, which are especially abundant within the refuge itself.

Today, thousands of swallows (mostly cliff) and hundreds of noisy yellow-headed blackbirds dominated the scene at Hutton Lake NWR.  Other sightings included American white pelicans, cinnamon teal, ruddy ducks, Forster's terns and, surprisingly, a small flock of ring-necked ducks.  Unfortunately, high winds and deteriorating weather cut my visit short but I'll return, perhaps in late summer or early fall.  After all, National Wildlife Refuges have long been my favorite settings for wildlife observation, offering unspoiled natural habitat, harboring an excellent diversity of species and having little appeal to the general public.