Colorado Headwaters Loop
Comanche Trail Lake
From I-20 and US 87 in Big Spring, take US 87 south 3.8 miles to Comanche Trail Park on the right.
Follow the signs to Comanche Lake to reach the spring from which Big Spring got its name. A traditional watering hole for the Comanches, the spring has various wren and sparrow activity in the morning. The grasslands near the visitor center often hold great flocks of wintering sparrows, and the lake shoreline can be abundant with shorebirds depending on lake level. The area also provides good habitat for dragonflies in summer. This multi-use park provides full visitor facilities, as well as a nature trail and a hike-and-bike trail.
Big Spring State Park
At the intersection of US 87 and FM 700 in Big Spring, go west on FM 700. Pass the intersection of FM 700 and Wasson Rd. and continue right (west) on FM 700 to the park. The park is immediately on the left and the road is well-signed.
At Big Spring State Park, the northern limit of the Edwards Plateau is reached, culminating in a series of bluffs rising 200 feet above the Rolling Plains. Big Spring State Park caps one of the limestone bluffs at the northern edge of the plateau. Below the bluff, known as Scenic Mountain, sprawls the town of Big Spring. Large woody plant species include mesquite, shin oak, skunkbush sumac and redberry juniper. Prickly pear and other cacti are common on the rocky slopes of the park. Common wildlife such as cottontails, jackrabbits, Ground Squirrels and roadrunners can often be seen, particularly early or late in the day. Many of the area’s numerous and varied bird species can also be observed. Watch for wildlife near the ponds. From late October to April, Sandhill Crane, along with geese and an occasional Whooping Crane, can be seen at the Sandhill Sanctuary north of the State Park. This and other area lakes support nesting Snowy Plover, Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet. The Sandhill Crane Sanctuary is located on One Mile Lake. From the State Park entrance drive northwest on FM 700, turn left as you exit the State Park, turn right on 4th St. and left to Jones St. Prairie dogs can be viewed at the municipal airpark on the west side of Big Spring.
Lake Colorado City State Park
From I-20 East entering Colorado City, take Exit 210 onto FM 2836 South for 5.3 miles. Follow signs to the park. The entrance is on your left.
Pick up a bird checklist at the park entrance. This state park has a scenic rocky lakeshore with weathered shelves of exposed strata that make convenient benches from which to leisurely scan the lake’s surface for possible loons as well as a seasonally changing array of grebes, ducks and geese. Lakeside thickets of buckeye, locust, juniper and prickly pear provide cover for various sparrows, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia and 2 or 3 kinds of towhees. The power transmission poles provide perches for various raptors.
Fisher Park/Champion Lake
From I-20 and TX 208 in Colorado City, take TX 208 south for 7.8 miles, and turn right onto CR 123, following signs to the lake.
On the way to the reservoir check the roadsides for large flocks of Sandhill Cranes in winter. White Pelican is present during migration and some winters. Watch for Spotted Sandpiper and other shorebirds. Horned Grebe, scarce inland, has occurred among the more common Eared Grebes. Trilling Rock Wrens may be seen flitting about the rocks around the lakeshore.
Lake J. B. Thomas
From Colorado City, take TX 208 north to Dunn and FM 1606, 13.7 miles. Turn left on FM 1606 and continue for 7.1 miles to Ira. Go straight ahead on FM 1606 West for 4.9 miles to the junction of FM 2085 West. At 2.4 miles, go left onto FM 1298 South for 2.2 miles to the lake entrance on the right.
The South Side Park has excellent views of this large reservoir on the Colorado River, and provides good lakeshore habitat. Look for a variety of waterfowl in winter, with shorebirds during migrations.
Return to FM 1298 South and go west on CR 3236 for 2.4 miles to White Island Park. White Pelican has been seen here in winter. This part of the lake also has good lakeshore habitat, with nice scenery from the rocks that overlook the lake.
Wagon Wheel Ranch
In Snyder, take US 84 north 6.5 miles to FM 1142. Go 2.5 miles and turn left at the large white sign for the ranch. Follow this road 1.2 miles to the ranch on the right.
This guest ranch encompasses 800 acres, with the adjacent 1,200 acres, once part of the ranch, still available to birders and naturalists. Several loop roads, including one that encircles an 80-acre buffalo wallow, provide access to the property and its birds, wildflowers, reptiles and invertebrates. Five ponds provide habitat for pan fish, Killdeer and several species of large showy dragonflies. In winter, they attract wintering ducks and a few shorebirds. Nesting birds include Swainson’s Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk, Greater Roadrunner, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Vermilion Flycatcher, Bewick’s Wren, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Cassin’s and Lark Sparrows and Bullock’s Oriole. Look for Black-tailed Jackrabbits and during May, several species of flowering cactus. Lodging, food and organized activities are also available.
Call for Access
Lake Alan Henry
From US 84 and FM 2458, head east on FM 2458 and after 2.6 miles continue straight on FM 3549 to the Sam Wahl Recreation Area and Lake Alan Henry, a total of 5.9 miles from US 84. If you wish to visit the Alan Henry Wildlife Habitat Area 4.6 miles further down the unpaved road, you must first call for access: (806) 775-2602.
Arrive early for the height of bird activity, a bit later in the morning for butterflies and dragonflies. During spring and early summer, the mesquite grasslands harbor Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Bullock’s Oriole, Cassin’s and Lark Sparrows, plus widespread species such as Common Nighthawk, Greater Roadrunner, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Cliff Swallow and Northern Cardinal. In the winter, look for waterfowl on the lake. Mesquite/cactus scrub attracts Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Curve-billed Thrasher, Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting. Ornate Box Turtle, Checkered Garter Snake and various lizards may be seen on the road. During spring, various cacti as well as plains zinnia and skeleton plant bloom at the roadside.
White River Lake
From Post take FM 651 north 23.7 miles to FM 2794. Take FM 2794 east 7.1 miles to the entrance of the lake on the left.
During winter, the lake attracts ducks (including such local rarities as Greater Scaup and Common and Red-breasted Mergansers), loons and grebes. The trees along the edge of the lake provide good cover for migrating songbirds in spring and fall. Recent visits during summer months have revealed large numbers of breeding Yellow-breasted Chats and Indigo Buntings and smaller numbers of Bell’s Vireos, Field Sparrows and Summer Tanagers. Butterflies and reptiles are particularly abundant and diverse at this site.