Colorado’s Annual Monte Vista Crane Festival

Free admission from March 10-12

Photo by Cary Aloia, courtesy Colorado Tourism Office

A smorgasbord of barley, from specially tended fields mowed just before the event, ensures avian attendance at Colorado’s annual Monte Vista Crane Festival, but the birds themselves are the March draw for human visitors to the tiny San Luis Valley community. Elegantly long-necked and-limbed in muted gray plumage, some 20,000 sandhill cranes— stretching up to 5 feet in height—descend in a flash mob of feathers onto the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, a biologically programmed stop on their yearly flight path from New Mexico to the Greater Yellowstone region of Wyoming and Idaho. Hopping and prancing, loafing and calling, the cranes lift off en masse in the morning and roost in the refuge’s swamps at sunset—all against the backdrop of snowy Sangre de Cristo peaks. An homage to the migration spectacle, the nonprofit festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with activities from guided tours to a talk on “The Secret Lives of Nesting Sandhill Cranes.”

Monte Vista Crane Festival, March 10-12, free admission ($10 guided tour),

Categories: Events