From Buffalo Peaks Ranch to Denver’s Curtis Park


You’re Invited to the

Pie Factory Pop-up

Help us celebrate the Land Library’s Headwaters to Plains Network

The amazingly diverse landscapes of the American West have inspired a trio of Rocky Mountain Land Library sites along the South Platte River, starting in the headwaters with South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, flowing to where the river meets the plains at our Waterton Canyon Library, and finally on to the Puritan Pie Factory, home of the Land Library’s new urban center in Denver’s historic Curtis Park neighborhood.

Thursday, October 20th

5:00 – 9:00pm

The Puritan Pie Company

26th & Champa, Denver

Map Link

If you like Pie, you won’t want to miss this fun evening!

There will be food, drink, and pie aplenty, along with music and a Silent Auction full of art and inspiration. Hear about upcoming plans and programs, and all the ways you can make the Land Library your own.

During the evening we will literally start unpacking the Land Library. Just a few boxes of surprising titles to start, with more than 1,5oo to go!

Please RSVP — suggested donation, $25

Click Here for Tickets

With THANKS to Aurora Water, Chelsea Green Publishing, Davis Graham & Stubbs, & Denver Water for their sponsorship of the Pie Factory Pop-up!









2015 pic

South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the Land Library’s headwaters home



The Story of the Land, from Headwaters to Plains


You can sense the change of season at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. But just as the summer winds down at the Land Library’s headwaters site, we have exciting news to report back here in Denver. The Rocky Mountain Land Library will soon be opening it’s third place-based learning center at Denver’s old Puritan Pie Factory, located in the historic Curtis Park neighborhood. This urban branch is designed to help connect people to nature — not the distant natural history of our nearest National Parks, but the nearby nature of the neighborhoods where we all live.


The Puritan Pie Factory at 26th & Champa.

We have two city-inspired collections that we are anxious to share, namely a Kids Nature Library (with thousands of books on bugs, birds, bats, and more), along with (what we’re calling) an Urban Homestead Library, featuring books on nature in the city, with many volumes on green-living, including hundreds of titles on edible landscaping, urban farming, beekeeping, raising chickens, and much, much more.

With thousands of books as an inspiring resource, the Purtian Pie Factory will be home to workshops and classes, nature clubs and activities for kids, neighborhood gatherings, plus artist & craft studios. If the community has a creative need, we would love for the Pie Factory to help fill it.

For instance:


Some of our favorite books are on seeds (really!). Along with seed books, we’ll be setting up a Free Seed Library, much like this wonderful photo from the Manitou, Colorado Seed Library.



How about a Teaching Kitchen for both kids & adults? Over the years we have noticed that the intersection of food & land is a perfect place to feel those connections we all have to nature and the land! (This fun photo is from the Organic Teaching Kitchen in New York).

Thanks to the visionary owners of the Puritan Pie Factory, so much is possible! Over the next few weeks & months we’ll all be learning more about the Pie Factory and the Curtis Park neighborhood. Who knows what new ideas and programs will emerge as we explore this amazing opportunity together!

Many of us are especially excited that the Pie Factory is already part of Denver’s Beat Tour. Just next door to the factory is the site of Neal Cassady’s boyhood home.


We’re already stacking up our Beat books, everything from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to Gary Snyder’s Riprap Poems!


Let there be Pie! From Headwaters to Plains, from South Park to Curtis Park:


Worlds Above & Worlds Below


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:

Milky Way 7-9-16

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!

gary schroeder9780933573185-us

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! 


A Summer to Remember

buff14 (1 of 1)

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:

buff15 (1 of 1)

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.

buff13 (1 of 1)

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:

buff11 (1 of 1)24353751045562886

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.

buff17 (1 of 1)

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.

buff16 (1 of 1)

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

buff2 (1 of 1)

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:

buff1 (1 of 1)

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!


Before & After at Buffalo Peaks Ranch

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.

cook's house

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!

Field Trip to a Biologic Hot Spot


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!