Field Trips

The SWS 2018 Annual Meeting will offer unique opportunities for field trip enthusiasts! Explore the natural beauty of Denver with landscapes varying from short-grass prairie at 4,000 feet above sea level to alpine tundra at 14,000 feet above sea level. The diversity of stream and wetland types is great across this incredible elevation gradient. All field trips will be guided, include transportation, park fees and meals/snacks. Registration for field trips is limited. All field trips will take place on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. If a field trip is sold out and you would like to be put on a wait-list, please contact

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Plains to Peaks: Wetlands across Colorado’s Elevation Gradient

Learn about the wide range of Colorado wetlands as we start at 4,000 ft. and travel as high as 10,000 ft. With an emphasis on wetland plant identification, this full-day field trip will focus on the major hydrologic processes that shape Colorado wetlands and common plant species within those wetlands.

We’ll first visit the Colorado plains, located east of Denver, and stop at Lowry Range, a former military site that is now operated by the Colorado State Land Board. The site includes a prime example of a flashy, Great Plains riparian-wetland complex, fed by period rainfall and groundwater springs.

Next, we’ll head over to Boulder’s Chautauqua Park and hike along riparian canyons. We’ll stop for a stunning view of the Flatirons and eat lunch among the wildflowers. That afternoon, we’ll drive higher up through the foothill and montane zones and stop at 10,000 ft., just below the Indian Peaks of Boulder County. From that height, we’ll view montane and subalpine wetlands, including fens and willow cars.

This field trip will be led by Joanna Lemly, Denise Culver, and Sarah Marshall, Colorado State University.

Things to consider: All-weather clothing and waterproof footwear are recommended. Lunch will be provided. Participants can download the Colorado Wetlands App in advance, which provides descriptions and photos of over 700 Colorado wetland plant species and access to wetland mapping.

Time: 7:00am - 5:30pm
Capacity: 30
Registration fee: SOLD OUT

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Fourmile Creek Fen Restoration

Extremely-rich fens are one of the rarest fen types in the US.  Join us for a field trip to Fourmile Creek Fen.  Located southeast of historic Fairplay at nearly 10,000 ft., this wetland was the site of one of the largest and most intensive fen restorations in the Southern Rockies.  The trip will focus on exploring the various habitats of the fen, discussing the ecology and functioning of mountain fens, as well as techniques of fen restoration.  As we move through the fen, we will hunt out rare fen plants and botanize at will (as the season allows!).  After visiting the fen we will walk over to Fourmile creek to see some of the five-and-a-half mile long restoration of that stream and discuss how water management and restoration intersect in Colorado.

This field trip will be led by Brad Johnson, Colorado State University. 

Things to consider: Field gear and waterproof footwear are recommended. 

Time: 9:00am - 3:30pm
Capacity: 20
Registration fee: $125

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Wetlands of Rocky Mountain National Park: Riparian areas, fens, wet meadows and landscape management

Travel up to 7,000 – 9,000 ft. with us to explore the large glacial valleys of the Rocky Mountain National Park that support intact riparian ecosystems. We’ll be joined by Park staff for discussions on ecosystem management and policy, specifically how management addresses heavy browsing from elk and other herbivores that threatens these ecosystems. We’ll also visit the Endo Valley fen to discuss its water source, species composition and biota. Throughout the day, we’ll stop at several wet meadows that are seasonally wet, but have not accumulated peat soils, and discuss hydrologic regime.

This field trip will be led by David Cooper, Colorado State University, and Rod Chimner, Michigan Technology University. 

Things to consider: All-weather clothing and waterproof footwear are recommended. Lunch will be provided. 

Time: 7:00am - 5:30pm
Capacity: 30
Registration fee: SOLD OUT

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A Colorado Plains River Bicycle Tour: Changing Wetlands and Landscapes

Bike along the beautiful Cache la Poudre River and learn how the changing landscape of Colorado’s Front Range affects this plains river and its wetland ecosystems. Throughout the ride, we will stop at several key locations that exemplify this plains system and discuss how the river corridor and its channel evolution better inform us of the current state and future trajectory of the river and its aquatic, wetland and riparian ecosystems. Along the way, we’ll review various river management strategies that are possible, given the current constraints, and discuss potential restoration actions that could be implemented to rehabilitate the critical functions of the river and its wetlands. Finally, we’ll end the day on the patio at High Hops Brewery in Windsor overlooking the Rocky Mountains and the headwaters of the Poudre. The bike ride will be somewhere between 7 - 11 miles long, depending on final site selection. 

This field trip will be led by Hally Strevey, Coalition Poudre River Watershed, and Johannes Beeby, Otak Inc. 

Things to consider: Bicycles, helmets and lunch will be provided. All-weather clothing, shoes for biking and sunscreen are recommended. If you wish to purchase drinks at the brewery, a driver’s license and money are required. 

Time: 7:00am - 5:00pm
Capacity: 20
Registration fee: SOLD OUT