ALAN STENBACK PHOTOGRAPHY

ALAN STENBACK PHOTOGRAPHY

It was quite the sunrise waiting at the gate of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Open from sunrise to sunset, the Arsenal is a wildlife refuge that sits on land once used as a weapons manufacturing facility operated by the US Army. Today it’s one of the largest urban wildlife sanctuaries in the west, covering 15,000 acres just 10 miles north of downtown Denver.

Once past the gates, Wildlife Drive winds its way for 11 miles through the preserve. I’ve driven it before, but never at dawn, so I was pretty excited. Based on the line of cars waiting at the gate, I wasn’t the only one.

Once opened, the line of cars took off past the gate like the mad dash at the start of a marathon. It seemed like everyone knew something I didn’t so I followed along for a little while until the cars started dispersing as everyone found their own destinations and experiences.

The lighting in the refuge as the sun rose above the horizon was breathtaking. I didn’t know whether to hop out of the car for the landscape or keep driving in search of the wildlife.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

I’d heard deer are plentiful and it wasn’t too long before several started appearing along the roadside, grazing on their breakfast. After stopping to grab a few images of the resident hoofed ruminant mammals , I continued along.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

One of the largest draws of the Arsenal are the herds of bison. Much like you can experience in Yellowstone National Park, road crossings are common and I was eventually stopped in my tracks as such. They appeared to have their routes – unbeknownst to me – and I was frequently trailing their tails, failing to get into a good position for a nice bison portrait on nearly every occasion.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

I have utmost respect for dedicated wildlife photographers, particularly for their patience. In a place like the Arsenal it’s almost as if the wildlife know, and intentionally turn a cold shoulder when a lens is pointed at them. “Pay no mind!” Nonetheless, I enjoyed the peaceful morning among our wild friends and hope to make a return with a proper game plan.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal