Soggy night at Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge

Day 7 of my border to border road trip.

I left Kalispell under light clouds, but as I drove further south the clouds became heavier and heavier, and by the time I stopped in Dillon to refuel, it was raining.   It rained intermittently until I arrived at my destination, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, when the rain stopped but the clouds lay heavy and obscured the surrounding mountains.

I first saw Red Rocks, near the southern Montana/Idaho border, several decades ago, when I helped conduct a breeding bird survey.  A beautiful wide open valley, surrounded by high peaks and full of wildlife, drew me back.   A small campground at Upper Red Rock Lake provided a home for the night.  A couple of large RVs occupied a large central campground and, for reasons that escape me, kept their generators running all night long.

I arrived early enough to take Shadow for a walk along the main road.  Golden grasses, aspens on the cusp of changing into their fall colors, and high peaks trying to peek through the clouds filled me with awe and contentment, in spite of the cold and damp.

Upper Red Rocks Lake
Upper Red Rocks Lake, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

After a quick dinner and a few tosses of the Frisbee for Shadow, the rain returned so we called it a night.  It rained off and on though the night, but the clouds started to break at dawn.  As damp as it was, I wasn’t expecting to hear much wildlife activity, but when I climbed out of the CR-V, I was greeted by ducks on the lake, plus red squirrels, black birds, blue birds, ravens, and a few species I couldn’t recognize.  I quickly set up the mics, in spite of the still droning sound of the RV generators.

As I drove out of the refuge, I ran across several groups of pronghorn.  The lighting was not great for photography, but the colors were so fantastic, I took some shots anyway.

A couple of young pronghorn bucks.
A couple of young pronghorn bucks, Red Rock Lakes NWR.
A large group of pronghorn show what those white rump patches are for.
A large group of pronghorn show what those white rump patches are for, Red Rock Lakes NWR.
A pronghorn buck browsing on a wet morning.
A pronghorn buck browsing on a wet morning, Red Rock Lakes NWR.

Then it was time to head east, to Yellowstone.

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