Tuesday, September 13, 2016

LepSoc 2016 - Day 9

This was a very long day of driving, broken by just a few quick stops in Colorado and a breathtaking scenic drive through the Snowy Range of southeastern Wyoming. I started off early and drove east past Pike's Peak and into Colorado Springs, then headed north through Denver (drove past the mile-high stadium!) with a small detour through Fort Collins to see the beautiful campus of Colorado State University, where I almost decided to go, back when I was making college decisions. I knew the drive across Wyoming to Evanston was going to be very long and monotonous, so instead of getting straight onto the freeway in Laramie, I took a last-minute detour to explore the Snowy Range Scenic Drive, for my third and final time crossing the Continental Divide during this trip. I'm glad I made this decision, as I saw a fair number of exciting butterflies in addition to the beautiful views.

Entering the Medicine Bow National Forest at the Centennial Visitor Center
There were several interpretive signs at the visitor center, including this nice one about pollinators!

Route 130 NW of Centennial, WY - Corner Mtn Trail Head (east side of the pass)
Erynnis persius Persius Duskywing, 1 male
Oarisma garita Garita Skipperling, 1
Papilio rutulus Western Tiger Swallowtail, 1 male
Parnassius smintheus Mountain Parnassian, 1 female
Cupido amyntula Western Tailed Blue, 1
Euphilotes sp. unknown species of buckwheat blue, 1 female
Glaucopsyche lygdamus Silvery Blue, 3
Phyciodes cocyta Northern Crescent, 1 female
Chlosyne palla Northern Checkerspot, 3
Euphydryas anicia Anicia Checkerspot, 2 females
Speyeria hesperis Northwestern Fritillary, 1 male
Coenonympha tullia Ochre Ringlet, 1

On top of the pass
I saw a few gigantic fritillaries cross the road near the pass, which I can only assume were Great Spangled Fritillaries. Unfortunately I didn't see any when I parked, but took a bunch of photos of the fantastic views!
Panorama of Sugarloaf Mountain (left, 11,391 ft), Medicine Bow Peak (ridge in the background, 12,013 ft),
Browns Peak (behind trees on right, 11,709 ft) and Libby Lake (click for full-size view)
Libby Lake, looking west
Libby Lake and Sugarloaf Mountain (11,391 ft), looking northwest
Libby Lake and the east ridge of Medicine Bow Peak (left) and Browns Peak (11,709 ft, right),
the two highest mountains in the Snowy Range.
At the summit
Medicine Bow Peak, 12,013 ft, looking north from the pass summit.
Viewpoint at Libby Flats on the south side of the pass.
One of a few signs at the Libby Flats view point.
I have no idea why the viewing platform was made to look like a small castle, but it was fun if nothing else!
So many alpine wildflowers blooming!
...and even more wildflowers!
Panorama looking south-southeast from the Libby Flats view point. There was a forest fire in the distance.
Panorama looking north at the Snowy Range: Medicine Bow Peak (long center ridge), Sugarloaf Mountain (shorter peak, center right) and Browns Peak (short ridge to the right). Click on photos to view at full size.

Route 130 - NF-255 turnoff E of Ryan Park Campground (west side of the pass)
Pieris marginalis Margined White, 1 male
Colias scudderi Scudder's Sulphur, 4 males, 2 females
Icaricia saepiolus Greenish Blue, 1
Speyeria coronis Coronis Fritillary, 1
Speyeria mormonia Mormon Fritillary, 1
Boloria chariclea Arctic Fritillary, 8
Phyciodes pulchella Field Crescent, 1

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