where, when, and what to find

Kane Springs (incl. Picnic Area & Hole N" The Rock)

posted by Tim Avery at
on Friday, March 27, 2015 

Hole N" The Rock from Google Street View

Driving south out of Moab it's not long before you find yourself at the Hole N" The Rock shop and rest stop on the side of Hwy 191. This historic 5,000 square foot home which began taking shape almost a century ago by the Christensen family as a small alcove for the young Christensen boys to sleep in at night grew into a man-made engineering marvel 20 years in the making.  You can actually take a tour for $6 if you care too.  Birding wise this isn't where the best birding in the area takes place--if you are here for birds there are two locations to check.  First is the Kane Springs Picnic Area just to the north on the east side of the highway.  This is a popular stop for truckers, day trippers, and folks just looking for a break form the hot desert.  Hug cottonwoods make a great riparian habitat here--birding wise it can be very productive early in the morning.  From May through October it is often busy with mid day tourists breaking.  The other location and the one I like to bird is on the est side of the highway directly across from the picnic area.  A large gravel pullout here with a tiny dirt road leads into the wash.  From here you can hike down stream several miles in lush riparian habitat and usually with the place to yourself.  The small creek helps cool things a little bit, and the habitat is really great.

Although it is taking some warming up to, birders are starting to stop here between Moab and parts further south.  Most don't take advantage of the great birding west of the road, and just stop at the picnic area.  This is a mistake.  If you are passing through between April and September, its worth taking some time here to bird along the creek.  The first time I stopped here I immediately headed to the creek and the sound of LUCY'S WARBLERS singing like crazy.  This led to great looks at PLUMBEOUS VIREOS, BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, and BLUE GROSBEAKS. WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE and ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER are both common here and can usually be heard calling. Overhead WHITE-THROATED SWIFT and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW flutter about.  BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, LAZULI BUNTING, and LESSER GOLDFINCH are also usually seen.  Looking back at notes I can't seem to find my report, but in 2007 I know I had a SUMMER TANAGER here as well.  I also had one just a few miles away at Newspaper Rock.  I also recall having BLACK PHOEBE here but my checklist doesn't seem to show it.  Regardless, this tiny riparian strip is a very productive and under-birded site worth checking out.

From the intersection of Center Street and Main Street/Hwy 191 in Moab Head south along the highway for 15.2 miles.  Here the pullout to the gravel area leading to the riparian habitat is on you right.  About 100 feet south on the left side of the road is the turn into the picnic area. Another .25 miles south on your left is the Hole N" The Rock.

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