Camp Hale

This US Army camp was constructed a few miles north of Leadville, Colorado at the beginning of World War II, and was the home of the 10th Mountain Division.  It was the brainchild of Charles M. Dole who, seeing the need for high altitude and mountain training for the US military, petitioned the “War Department” for funding and a facility to provide such training.

After getting approval he organized a group of volunteers and they initially trained at Mount Rainier in Washington state until Camp Hale was completed in the fall of 1941.  Soldiers were taught how to ski and snowshoe (if they didn’t know how to already) and were also taught rock and mountain climbing skills and cold weather survival techniques.  It was also used to test clothing and equipment to be used in harsh, winter conditions.  At its peak Camp Hale was home to 15,000 soldiers and 5,000 pack mules and horses.

That training paid off handsomely when the 10th Mountain Division was deployed to northern Italy to fight the Germans in January of 1945. On February 18, 1945 they surprised the Germans by climbing and taking “unclimbable” Riva Ridge, a German stronghold.  They never lost a battle and continued on to take Mt. Belvedere and other sites, including the strategic Po River Valley, before forcing the Germans to retreat on May 2.

After the war it was decided there wouldn’t be a need to continue such training and Camp Hale was slowly dismantled, though it did serve as the home of the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command from 1951 to 1957.  That group was later re-established at Fort Drum, New York in 1985.

Camp Hale was formally closed in 1965 and the land was turned over to the US Forest Service a year later.  Other than a few concrete foundations, nothing remains at the site other than some information boards at an overlook.

This memorial, listing the 990 soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division who died in combat, is outside the entrance of Ski Cooper resort, 7 miles south of where Camp Hale was located.


Colorado Wolf Center -Overview

This is the full name of the facility:


It is a 50-acre sanctuary located near the little town of Divide, Colorado, about 45 minutes west of Colorado Springs.  I had driven out here when I was in the area about a month ago but had just missed the start of a tour and didn’t want to wait around for the next one.  It was also quite hot that day and the few enclosures I could see from the parking lot appeared to be empty, as the animals were either down by the fenceline near the tour group (getting fed treats) or resting in the shade.  It was relatively cool today and the animals seemed to be much more active.

This facility is intended to provide a safe place for the animals and educate the public on their habits and efforts to preserve them.  Several types of wolves are endangered and this facility also helps rehabilitate animals which may have been injured or, in the case of wolf-dog hybrids which some people try to keep as pets, have been abused, neglected or abandoned.

There are several types of animals here, mostly wolves but also foxes and coyotes.  They have red foxes, swift foxes (I tried twice but never saw any of them), timber (or gray) wolves, arctic wolves, endangered Mexican gray wolves, and coyotes.  The only type of wolf they don’t have here is the endangered red wolf.

Here are the ordering rules for the various animals:

Wolves – Males are classed as Alpha, Beta or Omega with Alpha’s as the leaders of the pack.  Alpha Males and Alpha Females are the only ones to breed.  Betas and Omegas serve lesser roles within the pack.  Females are also classed as Alpha, Beta or Omega, and are sometimes referred to as a She-Wolf.  Young wolves are called Pups or Whelps.  A group of wolves is called a Pack or Route.

Foxes – This is a little more complicated.  Males are called Dogs, Tods or Reynards.  Females are called Vixens.  Young foxes are called Kits, Cubs or Pups.  A group of foxes is called a Skulk, Leash or Earth.

Coyotes are simple – Males are called Dogs.  Females are called Bitches. Young coyotes are called Pups.  A group of coyotes is called a Band.

A coyote’s howl contains “yips” and is a fairly high pitch.  A wolf’s howl is deeper and more “mournful”.

Wolves average 50-100 pounds.  Coyotes are smaller, averaging 25-45 pounds.

Timber wolves are found lots of places, but mainly the upper Great Lakes, the Pacific Northwest, and in Alaska (in the US).  Arctic wolves are found in Alaska (in the US).  Red wolves are now found only in North Carolina and are on the “Critically Endangered” list.  Mexican Gray wolves are now found only in Arizona and New Mexico (in the US) and are also on the “Critically Endangered” list, though they are thought to be making a slight comeback.  I saw signs various places in those two states advising people how to behave if they encountered them, and to report any action that needed to be taken against them in the event of any contact or very close encounters.

Colorado Wolf Center (1/3)

Here is the first group of pictures I took on Friday.  There was a red fox enclosure right next to the Visitor Center and that is where the tour started.  This fox is actually a cross-breed with an Arctic Fox so it’s coat is much lighter in color.  It was laying curled up in the sun but would occasionally move it’s head around and look up at us.



You’ll see red red foxes at the end of the third picture post.

Next we went past several very large enclosures which had a variety of types of wolves, as well as one with coyotes.  The only type of wolf I mentioned which they do not have here are red wolves which, ironically, are now only found in North Carolina.  They are on the “critically endangered” list and there are believed to be less than 50 left, mostly falling prey to human hunters.

You’ll see coyotes at the start of picture post 2, but here are some of the wolves.  All of the enclosures had the names of the animals listed although I was so busy taking pictures that I don’t remember which is the male and which is the female, and I won’t try to associate names and faces.  There were signs at some, but not all, enclosures which gave details about what type of wolves you were seeing and information about them.

If you want to see more pictures and learn the names, and the meaning of the names, go to their website at  There you’ll find bio’s of the current, and past, animal population here at the Center.




Here is one of the wolves at the fence near our guide, Chantae, who would give them treats.  She is about 5′ 5″ so that gives you some idea how big the wolf is.  Coyotes are generally around 25-45 pounds and wolves are generally twice that big, averaging 50-100 pounds.






Colorado Wolf Center (2/3)

Here are more pictures I took on Friday.

The coyotes stayed up at the top of the hill and away from us most of the time.  This one did meander down the hill briefly but soon retreated.





This male wolf was taking a siesta in the sun.  The female was much more active and stayed by the fenceline for treats.  The animals are fed their main meal in the evening.  The “feeding tour” is more expensive that the regular tour, as is the “full moon” night-time tour.








Colorado Wolf Center (3/3)

Here is the final set of pictures I took on Friday





They constantly watched Chantae’s hands, waiting patiently for her to throw them another treat.



The last enclosure contained two wolves who are not very comfortable around people and they never approached the fenceline as the others did.  Their names and information panel was at the bottom of the hill (I thought we’d be going out that way but we didn’t) and I wasn’t allowed back down there unescorted.




When we were done with the tour Chantae lead us through a “group howl”.  She demonstrated how we were to do it and on the count of three we all howled (there were about 20 of us on the tour).  Sure enough, the animals howled back and they took turns, answering one another, with the sound going back and forth around the various enclosures for about two minutes.

As I was walking back to my car these two red foxes had come out of hiding and were playing, although as soon as I got the camera ready the one on the right laid down and the other started cleaning and grooming it.  The close fencing (a tighter pattern than on the wolf enclosures) also made it difficult to get a clear shot.


I used to see red foxes on the property of the farm house I lived in for several years before moving into my current apartment in Durham.  I also heard coyotes howling during the night the last year I lived up there and discovered that there was a den just a few hundred yards up the hill from the house.  Once I knew they were there I would see them occasionally but they always kept their distance.

I’m really glad I went back to this facility as I enjoyed seeing and learning about the various animals.  Yes, they are in captivity but they are very well cared for and seem to be happy where they are, unlike animals I have seen in many zoos who act like they’d much rather be somewhere else.