Mesa Verde National Park is one of the locations  Denver journalist Ed Sealover recommends visiting in his book, "Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes and Hops."

Mesa Verde National Park

Editor's Note: This story originally aired July 12, 2016.

Somewhere between hiking, history and drinking, you'll find the soul of Colorado, says Denver journalist Ed Sealover. His new guidebook is called "Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes and Hops." By day, Sealover reports for The Denver Business Journal.

The book offers 30 single-day excursions across Colorado focusing on one historical site, one natural site and one drinking site per day. "I think there is a bond running between history, hiking, and drinking," Sealover says. "If you want to discover the soul of Colorado, you will look to find it outside of cookie-cutter restaurants and  strip malls."

He spoke to Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Read an excerpt from the book below. 

Day 2
Las Animas to Pueblo

Natural Site: John Martin Reservoir State Park
30703 Road 24, Hasty / Visitor center open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily /
www.cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/JohnMartinReservoir

Bent County is a land of sagebrush and echoes, packing just 5,600 folks into its 1,500 square miles and feeling every bit as sparse as when traders carved the Santa Fe Trail through it. But what may seem vacant to the human eye is a paradise to the 373 species of birds that pass through or take up part-time residence within its borders, making this outpost of southeastern Colorado one of the best bird-watching locations in the interior United States.

At the heart of this aviary activity is John Martin Reservoir, a place of leafy campsites and rock formations protruding into the largest reservoir in this part of the state. Situated nineteen miles east of county seat Las Animas, it has earned listings among the twenty-five top birding spots in the nation—an honor that is exemplified less by the crowds of ornithologists that converge here than by the stunning variety of winged creatures that return year after year.

Some of the park’s stars include piping plovers and interior least terns, both endangered and both coming in family groups—about five pairs of plovers and about fifteen pairs of terns—from mid-spring to mid-August annually. Plovers stand out with their bright orange legs and orange bills, while the terns—which nearly were hunted to extinction for their feathers in the late nineteenth century—nestle their parted tails on the reservoir’s protected south shore.

Bald eagles visit the north shore each winter, plucking fish from the water. Their appearance is
somewhat out of peak season, as most birders flock to the park in spring and summer.
Lake Hasty Campground, just east of the reservoir, is the best spot for observation, as picnic
benches and campsites spread out under a mass of foliage awash in a symphony of deep-throated warbles. Point Overlook, jutting into the reservoir farther west in the park, offers both the squawking of gulls and a human’s-eye view of the setting sun glistening off the water.

And if becoming the next John James Audubon isn’t on your itinerary, the reservoir is teeming with walleye, bass and crappie. Plus, the four-and-a-half-mile Red Shin Trail encircles the park and ends at a marker on the old Santa Fe Trail.

John Martin Reservoir is miles from other human settlements. But it’s clear the birds know something that we don’t.

Reprinted from Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes and Hops by Ed Sealover with permission of The History Press. Copyright (c) Ed Sealover, 2016.