American Alligator - Reptile in the Rockies

American Alligator

The indestructible alligator has escaped from the brink of extinction twice. A giant asteroid impacted the planet 65 million years ago and devastated the global landscape. The catastrophic event eliminated 75% of the plants and animals from the earth. Mammals, birds, snakes, lizards and alligators were some of the lucky survivors.

By the late 1960s, due to merciless hunting, the alligator was at the verge of extermination once again. Miraculously, intensive conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase dramatically. Now alligators are a common sight in the swamps, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes of the Southeastern United States.

I photographed this gator at the most unlikely of places, a high desert valley near Mosca, Colorado. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park began as a fish farm to raise tilapia for human consumption. The first gators introduced were to dispose of the dead fish. The farm has evolved into more of a sanctuary for rescued exotic reptiles.

The park is now home to over 300 alligators with some members of the original congregation measuring 11 feet long and weighing over 500 pounds. From what I observed, despite its uncommon habitat, the resilient American Alligator appears to be surviving just fine in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Lynn,

      It's a great place to visit. I never would have thought we would discover alligators in the mountains of Colorado.

  2. Great shot Dan - I hope it was with a zoom lens!

    1. Judi,

      No zoom lens. That's how close you're allowed to get at the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. We had a great time visiting the place.

  3. Great gator photo! And such a nice short post (hmmm, that's a good hint to myself!)

    1. Thanks Courtney,

      I'm not the best with words but I have lots of images so that seems to work best for me. Short and sweet.

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  5. friends just got back from the Everglades with similar photos...they are sooooo cool...the gators not my friends...well, them too...Good luck with the challenge! I can't wait to see your next photos...will follow . Z

    1. Yeah, I think alligators are pretty common down there in Florida. I wan't expecting to see them in the high mountains of Colorado. We kind of just stumbled upon the Gator Farm but it was a great experience. They offer unbelievable access to the animals so it's great for taking photos.

  6. Hello Dan, I so enjoyed your post thank you - and the photographs are wonderful!
    Here in South Africa alligators are called crocodiles .. fearsome creatures.
    I loved the picture of the praying mantis - much revered here as per the old tradition - not so sure that it still has the status it used to have.
    I look forward to your next post.

    1. Thanks Susan,

      I think the crocs are much more aggressive than our Colorado gators making them more dangerous. We live in a place that offers lots of opportunities for viewing wildlife but I can only imagine what the exotic animals down there in South Africa are like.


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