Barr Lake State Park offers the nature enthusiast a remarkable opportunity to observe all types of wildlife, including coyote, deer, and such dramatic birds as white pelicans, great blue herons, cormorants, egrets, ospreys and hawks. More than 350 species of migratory and resident birds have been seen the park. Numerous bald eagles winter at Barr Lake and one pair stays to nest and raise its young every year. The southwest side of the lake is home to a bustling rookery with over 200 nests. View the Barr Lake Bird List.
In addition to bird watching, frequent deer sightings (both mule and white-tailed), as well as the occasional coyote, fox, cottontail, and ground squirrel can round out your sightings list. Around the lake, mature cottonwood trees combine with wetland, riparian and aquatic plant communities to create a diverse habitat for wildlife watching.
Many anglers are attracted by the fishing opportunities, which include rainbow trout, walleye, wiper, tiger muskie, largemouth bass, yellow perch, crappie, bluegill and channel, blue and flathead catfish.
Barr Lake’s Nature Center has displays about the park’s wildlife and you can have your questions answered by a naturalist.
While much of the prairie at Barr Lake is a mix of drought tolerant exotic species, prairie restoration efforts have returned some natives to the area. Observe a native mixed grass prairie "lawn" at the Nature Center. Buffalo grass, side-oats grama, and blue grama create a delightfully beautiful (and low-maintenance) lawn full of color and interest. Other prairie restoration efforts around the lake have created stands of native little and big bluestem grasses.
Nature enthusiasts can enhance their knowledge at the Barr Lake Nature Center, which is located near the south parking lot. Visitors can see displays about the park’s wildlife and have their questions answered by a naturalist. Center hours vary; call (303) 659-6005 for hours and information about upcoming programs or to arrange a program for your group.
Park Naturalists offer interpretive programs and guided walks to help visitors learn about all the aspects of the park, from its history to the plants and wildlife that make it such a unique area.
The Eagle Express—a motorized 13 passenger cart—is your ticket to great wildlife watching at Barr Lake. Starting on Mother's Day in May, Naturalist-guided Eagle Express tours depart from the Nature Center every Saturday at 10:00 and every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. from mid-May through September, weather permitting. Enjoy a guided trail ride to the gazebo boardwalk or to the rookery at mile marker three. If you would like to schedule a special trip on days other than Saturday or Sunday, mid-May through September, or to make reservations, please call 303-659-6005. A donation of $1 per person is suggested. Space is limited to 13, so please call ahead for reservations.
Barr Lake State Park is the headquarters of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Its staff operates banding stations in the park and offers public programs. They can be reached at 303-659-4348.
Barr Lake is a great place to view the Rocky Mountains rising from the plains much as early settlers did when they first arrived in the area. Historically, Barr Lake was a bison wallow—a deflation basin created by strong prairie winds. Native vegetation like sand dropseed and sand sage speak of our sandy soil comprising Pleistocene, recent alluvium, and sand blown from the South Platte River Basin.