Directions: From Denver head east on I-70 and exit onto Quebec Street. Turn left to head north on Quebec. Turn right on Prairie Parkway and left on Gateway Road. Follow Gateway Road into the park and bear right onto Wildlife Drive. Follow the signs to the lakes area and once you pass the 4 way intersection with Havana Street/Wildlife Drive, look to the left for the parking area sign. Park here but cross Wildlife Drive to the Prairie trailhead on the south side of Wildlife Drive.
The hike to the Rod & Gun Club Ponds is one of the prettiest hikes in the refuge. The easy, rambling, trail cuts through multiple stands of juvenile and mature cottonwoods. The trees are stark during the winter and radiate color in mid-October. The landscape along the trail alternates between narrow chutes between the trees and open prairie with terrific views of the Front Range mountains.
From the parking area, start off on the Prairie Trail just across Wildlife Drive. The Prairie Trail rolls across the open landscape is impressive mountain and city views until it enters a thicket and comes to the junction with the trail to Havana Ponds. Continue straight through the thicket until the vegetation shifts to towering cottonwood groves. The trail through the cottonwoods (again, amazing the fall) feels almost like a carriage path through some old estate. Once out of the cottonwoods the landscape opens and the mountain views return. When you reach an unsigned trail junction, go whichever way you want, this is the start of a short loop.
After the loop, you'll arrive at the Rod & Gun Club Ponds. The Cottonwoods growing along the western shores are tremendous and incredibly beautiful in the fall. Your destination is a wildlife viewing blind on the shore of the ponds and it feels like you are quite remote by the time you reach the ponds, even though Wildlife Drive is only a few hundred yards away. They recently built a paved path connecting Wildlife Drive to the blind so this spot gets more visitors then it used to. Stroke your hiking ego a little knowing that you walked here, instead of driving.
This trail sees far less traffic then the trail around Lake Ladora and is far more scenic then the hike to Havana Ponds. If you are a fan of prairie and cottonwoods, especially in the fall, then this hike will be paradise for you. The big skies and mountain views are just icing on the cake...oh yeah, keep your eyes out for wildlife, this is a wildlife refuge after all...
October 21, 2018
January 25, 2015
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Rod & Gun Club Ponds
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
Date Hiked: January 25, 2015
Distance: 3.5 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 200ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,244 to 5,265 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39.812950, -104.861191
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service