Sugarite Canyon State Park

Sally and I drove the two-and-a-half hours to this park because I’d seen that Lewis’s Woodpeckers were being seen nearby.

Coal was mined in the canyon from 1894 until the start of World War II. In 1912, a company town was built in the valley, and, at it’s peak, 1,000 people lived there. When the mines were shut down in the 1940’s, almost all the buildings were disassembled. The only remaining house now holds the visitor center. I asked the woman in the visitor center where the name “Sugarite” (pronounced SugarEAT) came from. She said the quick answer is that nobody knows, although some think it’s a corruption of an Indian or Spanish word.

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We hiked part of the trail through the old town site and saw the foundations of many other buildings.

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We drove into Colorado to look for the woodpecker, then headed back over the border. About 150 yards from the state line, we found a picnic table in a shelter along Lake Maloya and enjoyed a leisurely lunch while watching a Bald Eagle in a tree across the water.

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We drove to the dam, parked, and walked along the shore of the lake for a mile or so.

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Along the way, I spotted another Bald Eagle.

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It was a stunning day. The park would have been prettier if a forest fire hadn’t burned through some years back. But if it hadn’t, the woodpeckers wouldn’t be there and neither would we.

Our bird list for the park:

  • American Kestrel
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Say’s Phoebe
  • Northern Flicker
  • Townsend’s Solitaire
  • American Robin
  • Common Merganser
  • Canada Goose
  • Redhead
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Scaup (probably Lesser)
  • Bald Eagle
  • Mallard
  • Green-winged Teal
  • American Crow
  • Lewis’s Woodpecker
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