Alligators in Colorado?We've lived in Colorado Springs for six years now, and my Wife Rosemary and I take a few 2 or 3 day trips a year to different parts of this beautiful area to see what we can see...
Well..... Yeah! There are!
Our trip to Taos, New Mexico (in late March 1999) was interesting but not spectacular. There wasn't any real snow in the mountains... (we don't ski anyway), and the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at was less than worth the money we spent... oh well, at least we got away for a couple of days, and we did learn that "in New Mexico, Pain is a Flavor" after attempting to eat a hot pepper laced dish at breakfast. (Can you pass the Tums please?)
What about the alligators?
Oh, yeah, the alligators... Well on our way back home, we drove up from Taos, NM on Hwy 522 (turns into 159 at the Colorado border) then turned left at Ft. Garland onto Hwy 160. About half way to Hwy 17, there was a turn-off towards the Sand Dunes National Monument Park (Hwy 150) that also advertized the Alligator Farm. We turned right there and a while later were at the entrance to The Sand Dunes park. To get to the Alligator Farm from here, which is on Hwy 17, there is a road a few miled back that heads West. This road will intersect Hwy 17 in about 10 miles.
We saw a herd of bison wandering around and stopped to take a few photos. Rosemary got one to look at us by 'mooing' at it, but other than looking annoyed, they completely ignored us.
At Hwy 17, we turned north (right) and drove up to the Alligator Farm which was just a few miles further. It's kind of where I drew the the red square in the center of the map. (Thanks for the map MapQuest.com!)
I had heard about the Alligator Farm from a friend, so this was a planned destination on our part even though it was somewhat out of the way towards home.
Well... my wife and I were surprised to find the Alligator Farm to be as interesting as it is. In fact, this turned out to be the highlight of the 3-day trip!
The Alligator Farm is possible because the farm's ponds are naturally heated to 87º fahrenheit by water from a 2000 ft. deep geothermal well. I'm pretty sure that any passing ducks that stop off for a rest appreciate the warm water... at least at first. (I guess for some, it may be the last thing they appreciate)
The farm is also a fish farm, specializing in raising 'Rocky Mountain White Tilapia' fish for the dinner tables.
(I'd never heard of them before and I'm pretty sure I have never eaten one.)
A little additional information on the history, fish, and geothermal details is available on the web site I could find out there. (http://gatorfarm.com)
It would have been nice if there had been some additional information and/or a person to talk to about the place. It is pretty much a self-guided tour, but in my and my wife's opinion, worth the $5.00 (per adult) entry fee.
Some of the exhibits are inside a large barn structure and it is hard to get good photos. The 'big guys' are outside. I tried to get Rosemary to go stand next to one so you could judge the size, but she wouldn't do that. You will have to take my word for it that some of these guys approach probably 10 feet in length. (I couldn't get her to go count their teeth either. So much for a photographer's helper.)
Here are some photos of them... There is supposed to be about 85 in all, and I believe it!
This guy was real interested in my digital camera, so I shot him (with my camera).
After about an hour of looking around, we headed north on Hwy 17 until it turns into Hwy 285, then east on Hwy 50 towards home.
Hope you enjoyed the photos!