Salt Fork Loop
McClellan Creek National Grassland
From McLean, head west on I-40 14 miles to Exit 128/FM 2477 East. Check the playa lakes on both sides of the road at 0.2 mile for ducks and shorebirds. At 3.4 miles turn left into the National Grasslands’ recreation area.
The recreation area has a large lake, nestled in a canyon surrounded by mixed grass prairie, where Common Merganser, Canvasback, Great Blue Heron and Bald Eagle can be found in winter. The tall cottonwood trees surrounding the lake provide good viewing of orioles and woodpeckers in summer. Throughout the grasses and the timber, Rio Grande Turkey can be seen throughout the year in the morning and evening. White-tailed and Mule Deer are very common throughout the grassland and even visit the campgrounds throughout the day. Common Nighthawks can be observed feeding in the evenings and early morning in the spring and summer from any of the paved roads on the grassland.
From I-40, go west 3 miles to Exit 124 to TX 70 and go south on TX 70. Check out the large playa after 1 mile for waterfowl and shorebirds, then proceed for 10.9 miles and turn right at the sign for the public boat ramp.
Scan the lake from here. This large reservoir provides an opportunity to see loons, grebes, ducks, geese and other wintering waterfowl. Cottonwood trees at several boat ramps hold nesting Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Common Grackle, Bullock’s Oriole and other songbirds. Dragonflies and damselflies include Aztec Dancer, Banded Pennant, Eastern Amberwing and Widow Skimmer.
Continue on TX 70 for 4.7 miles to US 287. Turn right and head west on US 287 2 miles to FM 3257 and follow the road until it ends at the lake, 3.2 miles.
During summer, listen for Dickcissel and Western Meadowlark. At other times, check any flooded fields for shorebirds and puddle ducks. When the road turns to mesquite and low brush, watch for additional species such as Bewick’s and House Wrens, Cassin’s Sparrow and Western Kingbird. As you reach the southern side of the lake’s western arm, continue west on the dirt roads that access additional shallow coves. Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Orchard and Bullock’s Orioles, Blue-gray Gnat-catcher, Eastern and Western Kingbirds and Red-headed Woodpecker occur here. Watch for an area where small snags protrude from the water. Terns and woodpeckers roost here and Black Tern has been seen flying over these shallows.
Bar H Dude Ranch
From Green Belt Lake, go south on FM 3257 for 1 mile to the sign for the dude ranch on the right.
This site is both a working ranch and a guest ranch with lodging, guided tours, picnics, barbecues and events for guests. Visitors may take self-guided tours to wooded creek and river bottoms. Guided tours to observe nocturnal wildlife are also available. Temporary and permanent photo blinds are available for wildlife photography. Bison, coyotes, quail, turkey, deer and Prairie Dogs can be seen on the ranch. The staff has hosted visiting birders from around the world, and as many as 60 bird species have been seen in one day. The Alanreed Tract, covering 4,000 acres of the ranch, is an excellent venue for birding and wildlife viewing in this part of the Panhandle.
(806) 874-2634 or (800) 627-9871
Playa Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Taylor Lakes Unit
Return to US 287 and go east through Clarendon for 7 miles. The Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is on the right. Leila Lake is 0.3 mile past the WMA.
There is a viewing blind that offers the opportunity to observe migratory waterfowl and shorebirds on one of 3 playas on the area. Wintering Canada and Snow Geese, as well as puddle ducks, congregate here in large numbers. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded here. Habitats also include tallgrass prairie and riparian woodlands, offering opportunities to observe grassland and woodland species. This area is closed during special hunts.
A secluded area with incredible scenic views, Finch Ranch offers a tasteful and comfortable rustic lodge built almost 100 years ago. Bird feeders near the lodge offer up-close viewing. Turkey, roadrunner, Painted Bunting, Eastern Bluebird and Bobwhite Quail are commonly seen on the ranch. Other wildlife includes Mule and White-tailed Deer, bobcat, armadillo, squirrel, raccoon, porcupine and coyote. There are 2 trails that lead to a creek and a small lake, with willow-lined banks along the way. Birding, hiking, backpacking and horseback riding are all available. Four-wheel-drive vehicle recommended.
Call for Directions
Collingsworth County Pioneer's Park
From Wellington, head north 6 miles on US 83 and turn left after the bridge over the Salt Fork of the Red River.
This site has a scenic view of the water with ample riverfront habitat, and is wooded on the south side of the river. It provides good habitat for dragonflies in summer, and during winter is a good place to watch for Sandhill Crane in the evening. Snags on the east side of the bridge provide habitat for woodpeckers. The large trees in the picnic area provide habitat for both nesting and migrant birds, including Mississippi kites and Eurasian collared doves. Check for a variety of ducks present in the river in winter and during migrations. Overnight camping is permitted for a fee.