To be effective for regional monitoring of broadly distributed species, migration monitoring must involve a network of well-distributed, standardized counts that effectively sample all major flyways and known sub-populations. Due to sparse coverage of long-term raptor migration surveys in the Central Rockies between Montana and New Mexico, HWI decided to conduct surveys at 26 exploratory sites across Wyoming and southern Montana in 2000. These surveys revealed high concentrations worthy of additional attention in the southern Wind River Range of central Wyoming, and on Commissary Ridge and in the Salt River Range of western Wyoming. Of these sites, Commissary Ridge had higher overall volume and diversity, and was by far the most accessible and logistically well suited for establishing a long-term migration site. Accordingly, during fall 2002, HWI conducted the first full-season count at Commissary Ridge and has continued full-season counts each year since.
Download the site brochure and species check list.
Come visit us at the site--everyone is welcome! Our educational interpreters will help you learn more about migration ecology, raptor identification, and our research efforts. If you are a large group, please contact us to schedule your visit in advance. Weekends can get busy, and we want to make sure your group has the best experience possible. If you are an individual or small group (5 or less), you do not need to schedule your visit.
From Evanston, WY, head east on I-80 for 13 miles. Take U.S. 189 north to Kemmerer and continue 1 mile north of Kemmerer to Frontier, then turn northwest on State Rd 233. Continue for about 16 miles to Lake Viva Naughton/Viva Naughton Reservoir (before reaching Lake Viva Naughton, you will pass another smaller reservoir). At the southeast tip of the Lake Viva Naughton, turn right on a 2-track dirt road (unmarked BLM road, look for a small sign on the fence about 30 feet from the main road). Continue down dirt road to the ridge, about 6 miles. Camp will be on your left. Walk up the ridge to the observation area.
Bird Field Guide (we have Jerry Liguori’s raptor guide books available at our store)
Hat and sunscreen
Seasonal clothes (temperatures can vary drastically in the fall, and WY is known for their wild winds so bring a windshell)
When to Visit
We operate daily 9am-5pm, August 27-November 5. All activities are weather dependent and we do not conduct migration counts in inclement weather (heavy rain or snow). Click here to see a weather forecast for the count site. The best time to visit is during bulk passage (highest volume of raptors migrating through), which occurs September 10 through October 30. Because of the sensitivity associated with raptor trapping/banding, as a general rule we do not allow visitors into our trapping blinds.
For those interested in overnight stays, there are plenty of remote camping options near the site or in the valley below along the Hams Fork River, a developed campground about 15 miles north along the Hams Fork River, and several motel options in Kemmerer and Diamondville within 25 miles of the site.