Alex Witze adjusts one of the Star Night telescopes for 10-year old Mekhi

What a summer it has been! Renovation at Buffalo Peaks Ranch continues while a full slate of workshops and field classes are underway. Astronomy authors Jeff Kanipe and Alexandra Witze led off on July 9th with the ranch’s first Star Night. A terrific crowd came out and enjoyed glimpses of far away planets and galaxies, starting with our age old companion:


Early in the night, Lynn Willcockson took this wonderful shot of the Moon

After a very successful, cloud-free Star Night, we decided to stick closer to home. Colorado State University’s Denise Culver led us on a tour of Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s wetland plants. The absolute highlight was a thorough exploration of the ranch’s 4-acre fen — home to many globally rare plants.


Fen plants tend to be tiny. Here’s Denise leaning in to identify a grass, with a handy plant guide that she also wrote: the Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants.


Denise Culver shows off a small carnivorous plant at home in Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s fen.

In August we were thrilled to have former Colorado State Geologist Vince Matthews return for his second Field Geology tour of South Park.


Here’s Vince giving everyone the lay of the land before heading out on a full day exploring South Park’s diverse geological wonders and mysteries.

And just this last weekend, artist Sherrie York returned to lead a Nature Journaling class across the ranch:


Starting off with several loosening-up exercises:


Erin Durant warms up by sketching her left hand.

We love having classes and workshops at the ranch, even before we can turn on water or power to the old buildings and barns!

There’s such a joy in learning. Sometimes the only reaction is awe:

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WORLDS ABOVE : Milky Way over the Cooks House by Jeff Kanipe


WORLDS BELOW: a “star cluster” at our feet, taken on our fen walk

September is just around the corner, and so are two terrific Poetry Workshops that we’ve been waiting for all summer long.

Yes, it’s been a great summer, and we’re already planning for more workshops and field classes for next year!


Poetry in the Park


There’s still plenty of activity at Buffalo Peaks Ranch this coming month, but we’re already looking forward to what’s ahead in September — such a glorious time in South Park as the air grows crisp, and the leaves start to turn. This September’s Ranch workshops are all devoted to poetry. Come join us!

Please note: Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we are very happy to be offering special Student/Teacher Discounts to both of September’s poetry workshops!

Here’s what we have coming up:


Saturday, September 10th, 10:00am – 2:00pm: Jodie Hollander returns! Jodie, and a small group of writers, will explore Poetry, Memory and Childhood. Prepare for a great discussion, with writing prompts to get you writing your own poems, plus plenty of time for questions and sharing.

Jodie Hollander has published in poetry journals across the globe. She is also one of the founding editors of Garo, an on-line art & literary journal inspired by the Rocky Mountain Land Library and Buffalo Peaks Ranch.  To register, and to find out much more about Jodie, and her poetry workshop, click on this link!

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Saturday, September 17th, 9:00am – 3:00pm: Poet Gary Schroeder will be offering Haiku Moments/Haiku Mind, a poetry workshop perfectly set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park. Gary and his small band of students will explore the Haiku experience, enjoying brief Haiku hikes across the ranch.

Gary Schroeder is the author of four volumes of poetry, and his new collection of Haiku, After Rain, is forthcoming from Folded Word Press.

To register, and to find out much more about Gary, and his Haiku workshop, check on this link!

Jodie and Gary are wonderful teachers,  expert in creating such a warm and welcoming environment. We feel lucky to have them both at Buffalo Peaks Ranch!

And, for fans of poetry, come see a sampling of the Land Library’s growing collection of poetry books, from across the globe — volumes such as these! 


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Larry Glass, one of last week’s amazing HistoriCorps‘ volunteers, just sent us a wonderful batch of photos. Before the day’s work began, Larry roamed around Buffalo Peaks Ranch, camera ready. Above, you’ll see the Main House at sunrise, and below there’s cattle grazing in the early morning mist:

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Whenever we’re at the ranch our eyes are always moving across that big bare valley, home to grazing herds, along with pronghorn, coyote, badgers, and an occasional bear.

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Larry Glass is also adept with his metal detector. On his free time he scanned the patch of grass in front of the house (above), alongside the cottonwood to the right. Here’s what Larry found:

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Larry uncovered an old logging tool (a wooden cant hook with a metal dog), once used for lifting & turning logs. Here’s a nice bit of detective work: a root from the cottonwood tree stretched above the cant hook, a good clue that the hook was much older than the tree. Chances are this tool goes back to the early days on the ranch, back when it was called the Guiraud Ranch.

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Larry made it out to the old Lambing Barn, a structure visitors especially love. Someday we’d love to keep it pretty much as is, clean up the corral a bit, and create an indoor/outdoor space for classes and events.

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More from the Lambing Barn corral: an amazing storm cloud to the east, as dusk starts to settle over the ranch.

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Larry Glass has a great eye for images that capture the long ago work of the ranch (above), and he sure appreciates all the reasons people love coming to Buffalo Peaks Ranch:

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Looking off toward the western mountains: Red Hill at sunset (along with one of the Leopold Benches we built last summer).

Thanks to Larry Glass for sharing these wonderful images, and for being part of the HistoriCorps volunteer team for the past two summers. We can’t wait to have you back!


HistoriCorps trailer

HistoriCorps just wrapped up its second summer at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. For the past two weeks HistoriCorps’ amazing volunteers have transformed the ranch’s Cooks House and Bunkhouse.

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Two years ago the Cooks House was in dire need of a new roof, and a new paint job!


Fast forward to just a few days ago, and you’ll see the new cedar shingle roof, and many fresh coats of paint. HistoriCorps also painstakingly rehabilitated all the old windows.

Is this REALLY the same building??

And here’s the Bunkhouse two years back, complete with a leaky roof and peeling boards:


This past weekend HistoriCorps volunteers repainted one half of the old structure. We’ll tackle the rest soon!


Step by step, Buffalo Peaks Ranch is coming back to life. We’ll be bringing more and more books & people to the ranch. Stay tuned!


The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s thanks goes out to HistoriCorps and all their inspiring volunteers. We would also like to thank the South Park National Heritage Area for the grant that made this summer’s work possible!


At first glance, South Park appears to be a never ending expanse of shortgrass prairie. However, within this high mountain grassland, peatlands occur, or more specifically fens. South Park’s fens are home to many globally rare plant species, including several that can only be found in the great northern boreal belt.

JOIN US on Saturday August 6th as we explore one of South Park’s most unique landscapes. Our first-ever Fen Field Class will be led by Denise Culver, a botanist/ecologist with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Denise has been mucking around Colorado’s wetlands for over 20 years, She is also the co-author of the Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetlands: Identification, Ecology and Conservation (pictured above).


You’ll definitely get your feet wet, but you’ll also learn so much more about why South Park is such a truly special place! For more on the upcoming Fen Field Class, and how to register, click here!



The Milky Way, above the Main House at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. (photo taken by 2015 HistoriCorps volunteer Larry Glass)

Taking full advantage of South Park’s dark skies, on July 9th we will be hosting the first of many Star Nights at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Join astronomy author Jeff Kanipe for a telescopic tour of the summer sky, including the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, star clusters, and the billowy star clouds of the Milky Way.

Join us for this fun and informative night under the stars (weather permitting of course). Lodgings are available at several Fairplay motels just 15 minutes away, or come early and pitch your tent at the ranch! Snacks and hot drinks will be provided during star gazing, along with coffee and dutch oven biscuits in the morning.

For more on the Star Night fee, and how to register, click here!


Jeff Kanipe is the author of numerous books on astronomy, including A Skywatcher’s Year, Chasing Hubble’s Shadows, The Cosmic Connection, along with his recent effort, a multivolume guide to celestial objects, Annals of the Deep Sky.

We have many more Summer Ranch Programs coming up; everything from the geology of South Park, to nature drawing, and haiku poetry. For more on what’s ahead, here’s our Summer 2016 schedule!


Worlds above and worlds below. With special thanks to Larry Glass for his terrific nightime shots at Buffalo Peaks Ranch!

Thanks to a planning grant from the Borgen Family Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Land Library has been working hard this winter on renovation plans for Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Soon we’ll be carefully adapting this historic ranch, and creating a residential library devoted to people and the land.

Here’s a terrific new video on what’s ahead. Thanks to Winton Media for telling the Land Library’s story so well!

Watch, enjoy, share, and HELP the Land Library grow!

For much more information, here’s Your Trail Guide to the Rocky Mountain Land Library, or write jeff@landlibrary.org!



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