Bird and wildflower watching, hiking, camping and other nature-based activities.View All
Exploring this boggy area requires a good pair of rubber boots and a sense of direction.View All
Situated at just under 10,000 feet, this fen is an astonishing vestige of the last Ice Age. The preserve is the most ecologically diverse, floristically rich fen known to exist in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Indeed, it contains more rare plant species than any other wetland known in Colorado.
Visit during mid-July to enjoy wildflowers in bloom: You can see Indian paintbrush, bluebell, day lily, pale blue-eyed grass and shrubby cinquefoil.
A type of wet meadow or marshland fed primarily by groundwater that is constantly flowing to the surface.
Central Colorado, about 8.5 miles south of Fairplay and 2.5 hours southwest of Denver
In the late 1980s, Dr. David Cooper identified High Creek Fen as the best example of an "extreme rich fen" wetland in Colorado. (Only 2-3 other fens with this classification exist in the entire United States.) The Conservancy is working to keep the fen intact and protect the extraordinary diversity of plants and animals that it supports.
Since 1991, The Conservancy has worked to protect the areas in and around the fen. In the late 1990s, research indicated the need to protect not only the land, but also the water and watershed in the region. Today, The Conservancy is working with partners and the local community to protect upwards of 15,000 acres in this area.
Open year-round, dawn to dusk
You can camp at the U.S. Forest Service's Buffalo Springs Campground, located 5 miles south of the preserve on U.S. Route 285.
High Creek Fen supports two rare plant communities and 14 state-rare plant species, most of which are isolated populations that survived here after the glaciers receded.
State-rare plants include the following:
High Creek Fen is a very boggy area with level terrain. There are no established trails. Traversing the fen can be hazardous: It is quite easy to get, if you'll pardon the expression, "stuck in the muck." Please wear either rubber boots or a pair of old shoes that you're willing to throw away afterwards.
During summer months, deer flies are an issue; please come prepared with long sleeves/pants and insect repellent.
Also, please leave pets at home while you enjoy the native plants and animals at High Creek Fen.
Caution: Afternoon lightning storms are fairly common in this area, so please be alert for dark clouds. And remember, your car is the safest place to take shelter during an electrical storm. Other tips: