Colorado 2021: Prairie Chickens, Grouse & More

Greater Sage-Grouse by Pam Higgonbotham
April 01 - 11, 2021
Tour Length: 11 days Est. Spaces Left: 0

Join us for this road trip through Colorado from the eastern prairies to the high Rockies searching for Prairie Chickens, Sage Grouse, Ptarmigan and others.

Photo: Greater Sage-Grouse at Coalmont, Colorado  by Pam HIgginbotham


Future Departures:
April 01, 2022
Tour Leaders:
Max # Birders:
14 (+2 leaders)
Birds; Photography;
Easy ; many early mornings and long drives
Double Accommodation:
$ 3575
[per person]
Single Supplement:
+ $ 575
$350 [per person]

This trip is a guaranteed departure, and is a joint tour with our partners at Rockjumper Tours. 

Colorado is the best place in the country for finding all the species of Prairie-chicken and many if the Grouse. Its varied topography, ranging from prairie grasslands through high plains to subalpine forests and alpine tundra, supports as many as 500 species of birds; its geographical location astride the Continental Divide provides a mix of eastern, western, northern, and southwestern species not easily found together anywhere else.

Our trip will take us from the eastern prairies of Colorado into the high Rocky Mountains, covering about 2000 miles in searching for our target species. In order to see many of these species at their leks at dawn, we’ll need to be up and out by 4:00 or 4:30 AM. We expect to find Greater and Lesser Prairie-Chicken; Greater and Gunnison’s Sage-Grouse; Sharp-tailed and Dusky Grouse and, possibly, White-tailed Ptarmigan. Other species of interest include Mountain Plover; Three-toed Woodpecker and Williamson’s Sapsucker; Rough-legged Hawk; Black, Brown-capped, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch; McCown’s and Chestnut-Collared Longspur, and many others.

Comments from travelers:

I thought our trip was a great success and thoroughly enjoyable. What a wonderful window on Colorado! Forrest, I’ve considered signing up for this trip ever since you first told me about it and I’m so glad I finally did so. I’ve enjoyed every one of my trips with High Lonesome and this one, my fifth, was no exception. Thank you for putting on a second trip! Stephan, your almost instant provision of an incredibly comprehensive trip report was remarkable! You are an outstanding guide and I look forward to joining you on a trip again sometime.  RW, Calgary

Once again, that was a fantastic trip – terrific guides, good food, & amazing birds – all anticipated.  Amazing looks at Colorado’s countryside and a wonderful group of travel companions – a bonus!  E & D Bar Harbor, Maine

Thanks so much for your incredibly comprehensive report. It was one of my more memorable birding experiences and the planets were most definitely aligned for us, particularly in light of the big storm that concluded our visit. Had the storm occurred days earlier, I don’t even want to ponder how negatively it would have impacted our tour.  F. C. Edmonds, Washington

I returned home Friday evening after spending 10 days with nine other people, covering 2,608 miles in two SUVs (Chevy Suburban and Ford Expedition), seeing ~130 species of birds (including 14 life birds for me) (130 is the total for the trip but I did not see every species), as well as 20 mammals. I survived and now I can proudly say I’m a hardcore birder!

This adventure was the Colorado Grouse Tour by High Lonesome BirdTours led by superb bird guide Stephan Lorenz (I swear he has bionic eyes and ears) and Claudia Cavazos, awesome co-trip leader.

I was by far the least experienced birder on the trip so my learning curve was practically vertical most of the time. Many thanks to Paul and Maureen Kellers Wolter for sharing scopes and for everyone helping me spot and identify birds – Marcy Packer, Glyn Thomas, Bea, Don, Irving. My modest contribution was spotting the great horned owl on a nest.

We went (in the really early and really cold morning) to leks; one in Kansas and the rest in Colorado to see the prairie-chickens and grouse displaying, experiences I won’t soon forget, truly amazing to see. A highlight was seeing a pair of white-tailed ptarmigan on Loveland Pass. In 50 mph wind gusts. Oh yeah, there was a flat tire early on.

It was fun to see everyone’s reaction to Colorado as they enjoyed the beauty of my adopted home state. We had all kinds of Colorado weather – sun, wind, snow, sleet, and more wind. We enjoyed springtime in Delta, Montrose, and Grand Junction then came back to winter in Walden and the drive down to Denver.

Almost forgot -we went to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Colorado National Monument (a new place for me). (All these photos are mine and hope to post more from others because theirs are way better.)

C. C., Lakewood, Co

Photo: Greater Sage-Grouse at Coalmont, Colorado  by Pam HIgginbotham

High Lonesome BirdTours is an equal opportunity service provider;

High Lonesome Bird Tours is an authorized permittee of the Pawnee National Grassland



  • Meeting Location

    Denver International Airport @ Noon; will meet at arrivals exit in Jeppesen Terminal (main concourse)


    Very comfortable hotels; some fine Colorado restaurants.


    From Denver, includes nine nights lodging, all
    meals, transportation, entry fees, guides, taxes,


    Alcohol, phone calls, laundry,
    other personal expenses.

  • Top Birds

    Great & Lesser Prairie Chicken; Greater & Gunnison Sage-Grouse; Dusky Grouse, White-tailed Ptarmigan; Chukar; Rough-legged Hawk; American Dipper; Lewis’s Woodpecker; Three-toed Woodpecker; Junpier Titmouse; Pinyon Jay; Black, Gray-crowned, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch; Pine Grosbeak; Mountain Chickadee.

    Top Mammals

    Big Horned Sheep, Pronghorn, Coyote, Black Bear

    Habitats Covered

    Short-grass and long-grass prairie, foothills, mountains, montaine forest

    Expected Climate

    In the early spring, we can encounter very wintry weather including snow. Temperatures can be in the 20’s early in the morning at some of the leks. Please make sure to bring layers! It can also be quite warm (60 degrees or more) in some areas of Colorado.

  • Other Attractions
    Wonderful scenery, mountain views, prairie dog colonies.
    Suggested Clothing & Gear
    • Credit cards / cash
    • Binoculars
    • Scope and tripod (optional)
    • Sunglasses and sunscreen
    • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
    • Small umbrella
    • Small day pack / fanny pack
    • Small flashlight
    • Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)
    • Itch relief cream
    • Lip screen/balm
    • Prescription drugs - carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
    • OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
    • Toiletries
    • Hair Dryer
    • Small alarm clock
    • Cleaning fluids/cloths/drying cloths
    • Field guides
    • Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
    • Lightweight shoes/sneakers/sandals
    • Hat with brim/visor
    • Rain jacket/wind breaker
    • Shorts
    • T-shirts
    • Swimsuit
    • Medium-weight long pants
    • Medium-weight long-sleeved shirts
    • Warm hat with visor
    • Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
    • Warm winter jacket
    • Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
    • Glove liners
    • Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
    • Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)
    • Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
    Recommended Reading
    • National Geographic Field Guide to The Birds of North America (7th Edition)

      Jon Dunn, et. al. 2017
      National Geographic Society
    • A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors

      Brian Wheeler & William Clark
    • The Sibley Guide to Birds

      David A. Sibley (2000)



  • Lesser Prairie Chicken Holly, Colorado Photo: F. DAvis
  • Greater Prairie Chicken Wray, Colorado Photo: F. Davis
  • Gunnison Sage-Grouse by BLM
  • Pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan (can you see them?) by Forrest Davis
  • Lewis's Woodpecker Buena Vista, Colorado Photo: F. Davis
  • Mountain Plover at Blue Adobe Reservoir Photo: F. Davis
  • Greater Sage-Grouse lek in Coalmont, Colorado by Pam Higginbotham
  • McCown's Longspur Pawnee Grasslands, Colorado by F. Davis
  • Cassin's Finch by Chris Dominick
  • Swainson's Hawks by Carl Sheely
  • Rough-legged Hawk by Carl Sheely
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse by Pam HIgginbotham
  • Pine Grosbeak by Pam HIgginbotham

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