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Craig Journeys Part II

BrownsParkWildlifeRefuge-Melody VillardBecause Craig, Colorado is the gateway to so many spectacular sights, we have broken up our journeys into two parts. For information on the town of Craig, please visit Craig Journeys Part I.

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

Grand Overhang Yampa - Bill Mitchem

Grand Overhang Yampa

Gates of Lodore

Length of Journey: One hour one-way

Route: Follow Hwy 40 to Maybell. Take Hwy 318 West to CR 34. Take CR 34 to the Gates of Lodore Campground.

Services: Restrooms, state park pit toilet and potable water.

Main Attractions: The Gates of Lodore, named during John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition after the poem “Cataract of the Lodore” by Robert Southey, grace the northern tip of Dinosaur National Monument where the Green River turns south. This area is filled with deep canyons and challenging rapids. Native American tribes hunted and fished in this area before homesteaders, ranchers and outlaws came for refuge.

There are 17 camping sites here with tables and firepits. There are no showers and no RV hook-ups. This is a seasonal campground.

One of the most popular activities from the Gates of Lodore is river rafting through the Class I  – IV rapids. Canyon walls stretch up to 2,500 feet above. River rafting groups must have a permit and must be booked in advance.

There is one ¾ mile maintained trail in the park and many cross-country routes into Dinosaur National Monument. Only experienced hikers are advised to take cross-country routes. Please take water on any hiking adventure.

Coke Ovens BrownsPark-Melody Villard

Coke Ovens

Length of Journey: One hour plus, depending on the level of comfort driving on unpaved county roads.

Route: Take Hwy 40 to Maybell. Take Hwy 318 west and turn left onto CR 10. Take CR 10 to the Bromide Charcoal Kiln.

Services: No services.

Main Attractions: “Dating from 1898, the four stone charcoal kilns are important as the only remaining intact structures associated with the Bromide Mining and Milling Company’s smelter facility.  The period of intensive operations at the facility extended through the end of World War I.  The kilns are in excellent condition and clearly reflect the beehive shape associated with structures constructed to process wood into charcoal.  They have been ranked by a researcher of Colorado’s coke ovens and charcoal kilns as the best surviving examples of their type in the state.” – See more at:

BrownsPark Wildlife Refuge -MelodyVillard (2)

Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge & the Swinging Bridge

Length of Journey: 1.5 hours one-way.

Route: Take Hwy 40 to Maybell. Take Hwy 318 west and follow the 318 until you see signs for Browns Park Wildlife Refuge.

Services: Primitive campground and restrooms.

Main Attractions: Browns Park is a great destination for birding enthusiasts. Sightings in March included mallard, pintail, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, gadwall, sandhill crane, great blue heron, turkey vulture, osprey, golden eagle, yellow-headed blackbird, red-winged blackbird, American robin, and many other species. Moose, deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope can also be found in Browns Park.

Browns Park once housed outlaws Butch Cassidy and The Wild Bunch. Within the 12,140 acre Refuge there are boundless opportunities for exploring.

The Swinging Bridge: The swinging bridge is a steel expansion bridge. You can drive across the bridge, which is about 8’4: wide, so think twice if you have a large camper. There is a campground at Swinging Bridge on the river, complete with restrooms on the river. The Swinging Bridge is located at just East of the state line.

Villard Ranch pronghorn - Melody Villard (17)

Cedar Mountain

Length of Journey: about 15 minutes

Route: Travel only in good weather. Take Hwy 40 west from Craig for a mile. Turn right on CR7 and go north for 5 miles. Turn right on Cedar Mountain Access (BLM Route #2190).

Services: restrooms, picnic tables, interpretive trail

Main Attractions: Cedar Mountain stands 6,500 feet high, rising 1,000 feet from the ground for scenic views of the surrounding area. There’s hiking, wildlife viewing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing and more. OHV vehicles must stay on the road. “The primary geological feature of the mountain is the cap of volcanic basalt that has prevented the erosion of the underlying Browns Park Formation of sands and sandstone. Deposition of the Browns Park Formation resulted from sandstone, conglomerates and siltstone being eroded from the Elkhead and Uintah Mountains. Volcanism was occurring in the Elkhead Mountains and Park Range. Deposits of volcanic ash are mixed in with the Browns Park sediments. A lava flow from a volcano in the Elkheads covered the Browns Park Formation in the Craig area. The basalt cap at Cedar Mountain is a remnant of that flow. Erosion occurring since that time has washed away all evidence except this remnant at Cedar Mountain. Few other places exhibit the sedimentary depositional patterns evident in the Browns Park Formation, the nature of volcanic events and rock characteristics, and the results of erosion and weathering in such close proximity to each other.” –

Scenic Drive
Length of Journey: ½ day.

Route: Take Hwy 40 to country road 57, Price Creek Road. This becomes country road 7 at Rio Blanco. Then take Hwy 64 at Rangeley towards Meeker. In Meeker take Hwy 13 north back to Craig.

Services: Services in Meeker.

Main Attractions:
Beautiful drive for photography in the spring and fall. Eat lunch in Meeker before heading back to Craig.


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