June 11-15, 2023

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Join Carl Bendorf and George Armistead on a fantastic five-day birding tour to find the summer specialty birds that make Colorado a premier destination. Expect spectacular scenery, great birds, and a fun, shared adventure! Tour price includes ground transportation & meals during tour, lodging, and two experienced tour guides.

What makes our trip special?
Birding in Rocky Mountain NP
  • Two of the top birding destinations in North America: Rocky Mountain National Park and the Pawnee National Grasslands.
  • Fantastic scenery and birding in five different life zones.
  • We will take time to enjoy the birds we see while also allowing reasonable time for photographs.
  • Expert guiding by the founder of Colorado Birding Adventures and the author of Better Birding.
  • Small group with two leaders and a maximum of ten participants (1 to 5 ratio).
  • All nights at ONE comfortable hotel.
  • Comfortable travel in two 7-passenger mini-vans; everyone gets a window and no climbing in and out of those big tour vans.
  • Group dinners included each night at the best local (non-chain) casual restaurants.
  • Typically pleasant weather with warm sunny days, cool nights, low humidity, and relatively few bugs.
  • Easy Access – our tour headquarters is just 45 minutes from Denver International Airport if you are flying.
From Our 2022 Participants:
Your Guides
Carl Bendorf

Carl Bendorf, a native Iowan and Colorado transplant, is a national leader in helping young birders, families, groups, and individuals discover the joys and benefits of birding. Carl is an experienced birding guide, past president of the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union, founder of Iowa Young Birders, and recently completed his third term as a member of the American Birding Association Board of Directors. He has been invited to guide at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and on behalf of Birdwatcher’s Digest. Carl founded Colorado Birding Adventures in 2016.

George Armistead is a lifelong birder based in Philadelphia. Along with Brian Sullivan of eBird, he co-authored Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field and is also author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania. George has guided wildlife tours on all seven continents. He has also managed events for the American Birding Association, and served as chief network officer at Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures. In 2021, George founded Hillstar Nature offering natural adventure trips worldwide.

Carl and George’s expertise, friendly and relaxed style, attention to detail, and exceptional customer service will make your Colorado birding adventure a memorable experience.


Click below to watch video highlights from past summer birding tours:

Colorado is a big state and our route will maximize our birding in varied habitats while minimizing our driving time.  North-central Colorado offers birding from the short-grass prairies to the alpine tundra and majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park with the variety of the foothills in between. The last day of our trip will be a long swing down into the cholla cactus and pinyon-juniper areas south of Colorado Springs with a goal of adding even more species to our trip list.  Besides the great birding, the scenery will be spectacular! 

Our tour headquarters will be Longmont, a thriving city of 100,000 centrally located just 45 minutes from both the mile-high city of Denver and our key birding destinations. You will need to arrange to meet us at the Fairfield Inn in Longmont by 3 p.m. We can provide you with a list of available shuttle services from the airport or from Denver.

Click to see larger map
Tour at a glance:

Day 1:  Arrival day in Denver/Longmont and afternoon birding in the Foothills

Day 2:  Pawnee National Grasslands

Day 3:  Rocky Mountain National Park

Day 4:  Foray into south-central Colorado

Day 5:  Return to Rocky Mountain National Park

DAY 1 – If you are arriving by plane on this day, plan to meet us at the Fairfield Inn in Longmont by 3 p.m.  After checking in to your hotel, we’ll head head ½ hour west from our Longmont hotel for our first birding sample of the Foothills–where the vast Great Plains prairie meets the Rocky Mountains.  We may visit several birding hotspots for our first try White-throated Swift, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Golden Eagle, Western Wood-Pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, American Dipper, Lesser Goldfinch, Spotted Towhee, Bullock’s Oriole, and Lazuli Bunting. After enjoying our first group dinner back in Longmont, we’ll learn more about birding in Colorado and our plans for the rest of our days.  Overnight in Longmont.

Your comfortable lodging for tonight and every night of our tour is the popular Fairfield Inn & Suites Boulder/Longmont, a perfect base of operations for our birding. 

Burrowing Owl at Pawnee Grasslands

DAY 2 – Pawnee National Grasslands.  We’ll Leave Longmont early for the 90 minute drive northeast to the Pawnee National Grasslands.  Described by author/birder Pete Dunne as one of his favorite birding destinations in the world, Pawnee is one of the most intact examples of short-grass prairie in the Great Basin—and an unforgettable experience for any birder.  We will have a quarter million acres nearly to ourselves as we search for the resident breeding species including Swainson’s and Ferruginous Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Says, Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Black-billed Magpie, Chestnut & Thick-billed Longspurs, Cassin’s, Grasshopper, and Brewer’s Sparrows, and Lark Bunting.  We will also see the occasional Common Nighthawk utilizing the only available day-perch in sight–a roadside fence post! After a picnic lunch at Crow Valley Park, we’ll visit several water areas on our way back to Ft. Collins for Cinnamon Teal, Western and Clark’s Grebe, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, White-faced Ibis, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Great-tailed Grackle. Dinner and overnight in Longmont. 

DAY 3 – Rocky Mountain National Park.  The fourth most-visited national park (3.3 million visitors in 2020), RMNP offers some of the finest mountain birding in Colorado.  We will enter the park from the east and drive directly to the top of Trail Ridge Road (12,183 feet).  Here we will be well above treeline and in the spectacular alpine tundra home of Brown-capped Rosy-Finch and White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Both are relatively common but can be very difficult to locate. We’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery amidst the abundant nesting Horned Larks and displaying American Pipits.  

Later in the morning, we’ll work our way back down the east slope of the park through the sub-alpine (10,000-11,500’) and montane (8,000-10,000’) life zones which each have their own distinct mix of birds.  Here we will seek Northern Pygmy-Owl, Williamson’s and Red-naped Sapsuckers, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Hammond’s and Dusky Flycatchers, Canada Jay, Steller’s Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Pine Grosbeak, Cassin’s Finch, Red Crossbill, Green-tailed Towhee, Virginia’s and MacGillivray’s Warbler, Western Tanager, and Black-headed Grosbeak.  And we haven’t yet mentioned some of the mammals we might find such as elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, yellow-bellied marmot, American pika, golden-mantled ground squirrel, and least chipmunk. Dinner and overnight in Longmont. 

Moose in RMNP
Moose in RMNP

DAY 4 –  Marathon foray into Southern Colorado. This will be our longest driving day as we venture down into southern Colorado for new habitats and new birds.  Just south of Colorado Springs, we will explore vast areas of cholla cactus which can harbor Chihuahuan Ravens, Curve-billed Thrashers, and Scaled Quail.  In the afternoon, we’ll explore the beautiful Arkansas River Valley in search of Pinyon Jay and Lewis’s Woodpecker before returning to Longmont for dinner and overnight.

DAY 5 – Flexible Itinerary.  We’ll use our last day to look for species we may have previously missed. This may include a return to the spectacular Rocky Mountain NP, checking various lakes and reservoirs, or even just a thorough exploration of Boulder County. After a final group dinner, our tour will conclude at the Fairfield Inn around 7 p.m.

Note: Your lodging on the last night of June 15 is NOT included in your registration fee giving you the option to book another night on your own at the Fairfield Inn or another location of your choosing near the airport.

We will focus on the target species that most visiting birders want to find—how many of these have YOU seen?

No guarantees, of course, but we’ll try to see as many of these prairie and mountain west species as possible in five days!!  Join our small group of like-minded fellow birders as we fill in those holes on your life or year list. This tour will truly be a summer birding bonanza!

Curious about our most recent tour? Take a look at the entire bird list from June 2022 here.

Your tour cost is $1,950 per person, double occupancy.  A $300 deposit and completed registration form from each participant will confirm your adventure.  Final payment must be received by April 15, 2023; we will email you an invoice in advance for the balance due. Registrations for which payment in full is not received by April 15 will be considered as having been cancelled by the registrant (see cancellation policy below.) A single occupancy supplement  of $375 will offer a single room throughout the tour (pending availability.)  If you are traveling alone and choose to share a room, if we cannot provide you with a rooming partner although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. We will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share. 

What’s Included:  The tour price includes all travel as described in the itinerary, four nights of lodging in a comfortable hotel, ground transportation and meals during tour, tour materials, and the services of the leaders.  The included meals are five dinners, four lunches, and four breakfasts. Routine tips for included meals are also included.  Gratuities for your leaders are at your discretion.

Our birding tour begins on Saturday, June 11 at 3 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn in Longmont and ends after dinner on Wednesday, June 15 by 7 p.m.  You should arrange your own transportation to and from the Fairfield Inn–all transportation in between is included.

Not Included:  Air and ground transportation to and from our tour headquarters at the Fairfield inn in Longmont, alcohol, laundry, room service, hotel-mini-bar, hotel phone changes, and other items of a purely personal nature.

PLEASE NOTE: Overnight lodging is NOT included in the tour cost on our last birding day (June 15) as some participants will want to stay overnight near the airport and others will be departing by personal car for other destinations.  If you wish to stay at the tour hotel for this last night, please make arrangements with the hotel directly.

Cancellation: If you need to cancel, please notify us by email.  Your cancellation will be effective using the date and time your email is sent.  If you cancel, we will refund your payments less any deduction per below:

  • Prior to January 1, 2023, $100 will be deducted from your refund.
  • From January 1 through April 14, $300 will be deducted from your refund.
  • Beginning April 15, your payments are non-refundable.

We reserve the option to cancel the tour if there are insufficient reservations, 60 days before the beginning of the tour. If we cancel the entire Tour because of insufficient reservations or within 60 days of the tour beginning because of any other reason beyond our reasonable control , all deposits and other payments will be refunded to you by us in full.

While not required, we strongly recommend that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance upon booking your tour, to cover any financial losses due to cancellation (by us or by you) for whatever reason. Many travel insurance policies require you to purchase a policy either at the time of booking or very shortly thereafter. Please be aware that many travel insurance policies do not cover COVID-19-related illnesses or expenses. If a participant is unable to continue with their tour due to a COVID-related reason, all costs associated with isolating and/or later rejoining the tour are the participant’s responsibility.

Air Travel:  If you are flying, you should arrive at and depart from Denver International Airport (DEN). The last night of lodging (June 15) is not included in the tour cost to allow you to select either an airport hotel, stay another night at our tour hotel in Longmont (make your own arrangements), or make other arrangements.  Please do not book your flights until your space on the tour has been confirmed by our office.

Special Note: The per person tour fee may be subject to change due to unforeseeable global economic changes. In the event that our costs for lodging, transportation, or meals change dramatically, we reserve the right to pass on those increases in fees to the tour participants.

Please review the following carefully to make sure this tour is a good fit for you:

COVID-19:  Tour participants and leaders will be required to have completed the full course of their CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior to the start of the tour. Proof of vaccination must be provided to us (by emailing a photo or scan of your vaccination card) before departure. Please be aware that many travel insurance policies do not cover COVID-19-related illnesses or expenses. If a participant is unable to continue with their tour due to a COVID-related reason, all costs associated with isolating and/or later rejoining the tour are the participant’s responsibility.

Non-smoking: Smoking is not permitted during any of our group activities including van travel, group birding, or meals. The block of rooms we have reserved are all non-smoking rooms.

Altitude, Mobility, and Stamina:  Participants should be aware of the potential effects of altitude and take steps to prepare including proper hydration.  Colorado has the highest average elevation in the United States and our birding and travel will range from roughly 4,500 feet above sea level to several brief periods about 11,000 feet.  Our four overnights will be in Longmont (elevation 4,984 feet above sea level.)  Our days will be active and can include multiple walks of up to one mile on level roads or on trails with some rocky sections.  Most walks are filled with frequent pauses to observe birds.  This tour is not recommended for birders who are prone to altitude-related health issues,  have mobility issues, or who have difficulty or are unwilling to climb unassisted in and out of mini-vans.   We recommend that you consult with your physician prior to committing to this trip and if you have health conditions or concerns about your ability to undertake moderate activity at higher elevations.

Daily Schedule:  For optimal birding, we will start early each morning with at least one morning departure from the hotel at 4:30 a.m.   Our first day of birding begins in the mid-afternoon and will continue until about 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner. In mid-June, sunrise is approximately 5:30 a.m. and sunset is 8:30 p.m.  Our daily schedule will vary and is subject to change. A more detailed schedule will be provided to participants.  We will travel in two regular size mini-vans; participants should be prepared to ride in any seat and switch seat locations each day.  Depending on the number of participants, space for items such as heavy-duty tripods and large backpacks may be limited each day.  We encourage you to travel light.

Weather/Clothing:  Weather conditions in Colorado in June can vary widely. Average June temperatures in Denver/Longmont are highs in the lower 80sF and lows around 50F, but we will have at least one early morning at higher elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park where it can be quite cold and windy even in summer; a warm hat/gloves/coat may be needed. In contrast, the temperatures at the Pawnee Grassland can easily be well into the 90s! Afternoon thunderstorms are also common anywhere.  Be prepared with layers of clothing that can adapt to chilly mornings and hot, sunny afternoons. We will not be hiking in extreme rocky places and lightweight hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes will be sufficient.  A windbreaker/rain jacket is recommended as well as a hat for sun protection.  A suggested packing list will be provided to participants.

Based on the above description of the physical requirements of the tour, if you are concerned about whether this tour is a good fit for you please contact us and fully explain your concerns before you register and make a deposit.  To ensure a quality experience for all participants, we may be limited in our ability to make special accommodations if you have mobility, stamina, or altitude-related limitations.

Colorado Birding Adventures does not discriminate in its tours or activities on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap, sex or gender, gender identity and/or expression (including a transgender identity), sexual orientation, military or veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state or local law.

Please review the Terms & Conditions and our Participation Agreement here.

Lodging: Your hotel for the four nights included in the tour cost is the Fairfield Inn & Suites Boulder/Longmont. The hotel is conveniently located closed to restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping.

Please note that our tour ends after dinner on the fifth night (June 15) and the hotel on that night is NOT included in the tour cost. If you wish to stay another night at the hotel, you should make a reservation with them directly. Their direct number is (303) 776-8050 and please mention you are traveling with Colorado Birding Adventures and ask if they will extend our group rate to you.

Food:  Breakfasts will be as provided by the hotel or simple cold breakfasts we bring along on early mornings.  To maximize our time in the field, we’ll offer simple, delicious picnic lunches on most days. Drinking lots of water is vital at high altitude and we will have a supply with us to refill your own reusable water bottles.

Dinners will be at our favorite local restaurants (no chains) in Longmont. We will be ordering from the full restaurant menu. All restaurants will offer both vegetarian and gluten-free options.   Non-alcoholic beverages will be included with your meals. We cannot offer credit or a refund for any included meals a participant chooses to skip.


Food Allergies / Requirements:   We will do our best to accommodate specific food allergies but we can’t guarantee that all restaurants can meet every need.   Please notify us well in advance of specific needs or requirements so we can work with you to be prepared.

Click anywhere on the map to open an interactive Google map of our locations and general route.

Reserve Your Space Today

Use the form below to reserve your space on our Best of Colorado Summer Birding 2023! We’ll confirm that space is available and email you a registration form and an invoice for a deposit of $300 per person.

Once the trip is filled (our tour this past June was sold out by February!), you will have the option to be placed on a waitlist which does not require a deposit.

Thank you!