Unrelenting forces of nature have carved immense and intimate landscapes in northwest Colorado. Spanning 14,918 square miles, the region encompasses expansive areas of public lands—canyons and rivers, forests and wilderness, parks and peaks, mesas and plateaus— preserved for posterity and enjoyment by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colorado State Parks. This remote area has always attracted rugged individuals and today rewards adventurers with experiences where, like explorers, you can find yourself alone and renewed by vast frontiers.
Agricultural operations worth visiting.
Museums of Northwest Colorado & Southwestern Wyoming.
Canyons and Rivers
Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway connects you to the canyons and rivers of northwest Colorado. Here you can choose a Heritage Journey to view time in the geology of the land, discover the painted pictographs and carved petroglyphs of the Fremont and Ute Indians, see where wild horses still roam, or stand 2,700 feet above the Green and Yampa Rivers. You may observe a twenty-five foot waterfall, the Gates of Lodore, or experience the solitude of a wildlife refuge.
Deep below northwest Colorado’s diverse landscapes lie geological expanses of fossil fuels and minerals. When traveling in the region, you are journeying across an energy trail.
Forests and Wilderness
Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway, linking Yampa and Meeker, showcases the legacy of Routt National Forest’s multiple-use land management. You’ll follow a Ute trail recorded by the Ferdinand Hayden Expedition, 1874–1878, through pristine scenery with excellent wildlife viewing. It is a working byway for ranching, logging, and mining operations. Take time on our Heritage Journeys to explore Trappers Lake, the Ute legacy at the White River Agency, and Thornburgh Battle Monument. Or, follow the West Elk Loop—described by a forest ranger as “the closest you can come to a wilderness experience in a passenger car.”
Mesas and Plateaus
The Colorado River defines this region—its waters coursing through the mesas and plateaus and geologic time—to carve Glenwood Canyon and nourish its valleys. Recognized as one of the most biologically diverse areas on the Western Slope, the Roan Plateau provides outstanding habitat for fishing, deer, and other wildlife. Sixty percent of the area is public land where for generations outdoorsmen have come to camp and hunt. Here you can follow in the footsteps of Ute Indians, Theodore Roosevelt, forest rangers, and oil drillers. And, on alternate routes, working ranch land, farm land, and the work of marble stonemasons.
Mountains and Parks
Cache la Poudre–North Park Scenic and Historic Byway follows the federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre, from Fort Collins to Walden. Traveling through the river canyon you’ll ascend to 10,276-foot Cameron Pass, cross between the Never Summer and Medicine Bow mountain ranges, and then descend into North Park. Now called “Moose Country,” the Ute Indians named the area the “Bull Pen“ for the great buffalo herds, which grazed in the valley. Three Heritage Journeys let you explore mountains and parks in Routt National Forest, the Continental Divide, and Mount Zirkel Wilderness.
Steamboat Springs Day Trip: This remote northwest region of Colorado had long-served as the Ute Indians’ summertime hunting grounds. The town remained isolated until the arrival of the Denver, Northwest and Pacific Railroad in 1908. The rail line from Denver across the Continental Divide enabled year-round transportation of livestock and coal as well as passenger travel. Today, the railroad still transports coal from the region. Take the Tour
Hahns Peak Day Trip: Located at 8,126 feet, Hahns Peak has 15 historic structures including a museum, which provides a walking tour map.
Rural School Tours: The Rural Schools self-guided tour of Rio Blanco County incorporates schools in and around Meeker and Rangely.
Craig Journeys Part 1
Craig is the mid-point between Denver and Salt Lake City. Aside from numerous lodging accommodations, restaurants, and more, Craig is home to the only wave pool complex on the Western Slope. Fishermen and hunters often depart from Craig on their adventures and history buffs will be occupied with an abundance of petroglyphs in the surrounding areas. Within an hour from Craig…
Craig Journeys Part 2
For Part II of our journeys we will begin with Gates of Lodore then journey to Colorado’s Coke Ovens and finish up with coverage of Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge & The Swinging Bridge and Cedar Mountain.
Hayden is home to less than 2,000 residents, but is comparable in friendliness to small towns of days past. People wave at each other as they pass by in cars or on the street. Everyone seems to know who the new people in town are, what’s happening with their town and there is an immense pride in place and heritage.
Rio Blanco Journey: Meeker
“Northern Utes and their ancestors inhabited mountainous Colorado and Utah for centuries. White settlers in the Colorado Territory brought competition and conflict for the land. The Ute Reservation and Agency at White River were established by the treaty of 1868. Settlers violated the treaty encroaching onto Ute lands. Utes and local traders previously engaged in a friendly “buckskin” economy through trading posts along the Yampa and Little Snake Rivers.
Rio Blanco Journey: Rangely
The town of Rangely was incorporated in 1947 even though it had been inhabited thousand of years prior by the Fremont People. Later the Shoshone and Ute Indians lived in the area. Rangely is located on a high desert plateau at 5,200 feet above sea level and depends of the water from the White River, which runs through town in an east-to-west direction, for survival and recreation.
Walden is a quaint town tucked into North Park, Colorado, conveniently located about an hour from Steamboat Springs, Granby, Kremmling and Wyoming and about two hours from Ft. Collins. The town of Walden measures an elevation of 8099 feet and can be found in the heart of Jackson County. While Walden sits in a bowl of protein rich grasses and abundant wildlife it is surrounded by 12,000 foot peaks that define the Rocky Mountains.