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Rifle, Colorado

 
Did you know Rifle was one of the first towns in Colorado to have electric lights powered by a hydroelectric plant at Rifle Falls?
The site of the former power plant—where water cascades down limestone walls—is now a beautiful State Park. Today, children and adults can picnic, camp, and explore the caves of the park. Or, enjoy a hike on the nature trails leading up to the Rifle Fish Hatchery to see enormous rainbow trout. Further up the canyon is Rifle Mountain Park, where world class rock climbing extends for 2.5 miles and has over 250 bolted climbing routes for non-winter climbing. Then, when winter arrives and water freezes on the canyons, ice climbers strap crampons to their boots and ascend the frozen vertical walls. Ice Caves along Koper’s Trail offer a less vertical but no less magical experience. Before the caves were used for recreational pursuits, pioneering ranchers chipped the ice out in blocks and carried them down to lower elevations for cold storage.
Did you know the Bookcliffs formation contains the richest concentration of oil shale in the world?
Massive layers of oil shale are prominently exposed on the sides of the famed Bookcliffs, seen to the west of Rifle. The oil shale cliffs can be viewed along Interstate 70 for miles to the west into Utah, to Green River, and beyond. There is more kerogen here than there is oil in all of the Middle East. For over 100 years, scientists have been experimenting with ways to extract oil shale “kerogen”—an organic precursor to oil—that must be heated to produce oil and gas. Deep beneath the oil shale layers of the Piceance Basin, tightly locked in complex geologic formations lies vast quantities of natural gas. Recent advances in well-drilling technology have brought much of the rich gas into production. As a result, Colorado is now among the largest natural gas producers in the nation.
Did you know Rifle is known for its world class hunting?
The White River National Forest and BLM lands surrounding Rifle make the region one of the best world class hunting and fishing destinations in America. Ute Indians were the first to hunt the area—evidence of their wickiups, or shelters, and camps, can still be found along wildlife migration paths. White hunters arrived in the late 1800s, and bow and arrows, black powder and rifles are still used to hunt mountain lions, black bear, elk, and deer. Theodore Roosevelt set the state record for the largest mountain lion killed in Colorado while on a hunting trip near Rifle, more than 100 years ago. (The record held until 2002.) Today, the Colorado River, tributary streams, and Rifle Gap Reservoir provide some of the best fishing in the state. You can catch rainbow and German brown trout, walleye, pike, small mouth and large mouth bass, and yellow perch.
Did you know Rifle is consistently cited in state and national top ranked destination lists?
Rifle ranked 28th in Outdoor Life Magazine: Top 200 Towns for Sportsmen, 2011. Rifle Falls State Park placed 6th in Sunset Magazine: Top 10 Waterfalls to Visit, 2011; ranked 66th in the Colorado Tourism Office: Top 99 Gorgeous Places in Colorado, 2012; and Rifle Mountain Park ranked 4th in their Top Rock Climbing Spots in Colorado, 2011.

Directions:

  • Only a three-hour drive from Denver and one hour drive from Grand Junction.
  • Take Exit 90 off Interstate 70.

Trip Planning:

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