The Egeria Park region encompasses the towns of Yampa and Toponas to the south. Yampa is a small jewel in Colorado often referred to as the east Gateway to the Flat Tops Wilderness.
Volcanoes once dotted and shaped this landscape. Reminders of the area’s dramatic volcanic past are revealed in the many buttes dotting the Egeria Park landscape. These remnants of extinct volcanoes are composed of erosion resistant basalt. At least 53 volcanic necks (vents) have been recognized in the region. Finger Rock, two miles south of the town of Yampa is the most obvious.
Egeria Park has been witness to many ways of life. Ute Indians followed a southern trail from the south near the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado rivers en route to the Flat Tops Mountains. From the west, tribes from Utah followed a trail that began near present day Meeker. These were small bands of close knit families coming to hunt, collect roots, berries, and seeds. They did not own this land – they were part of it. Ute Indians summered in this valley along the river they called Yampa after an edible plant.
In 1880, when the Ute were removed from their spiritual and ancestral home to reservation land, a wave of settlers appeared. In 1861, while surveying for a possible railroad route, engineer and statesman, Captain Edward L. Berthoud named the region Egeria Park. The valley’s many waterways must have inspired the name, which refers to the Roman water nymph Egeria, deity of clear water and springs. The Flat Tops Mountains encompass over 110 lakes and ponds. Countless miles of streams provide habitat for diverse populations of big game and other wildlife. By 1881, the first white families had settled in Egeria Park.
In 1883 men from the mining camp of Breckenridge, to the southeast, rode into Egeria Park looking for land to settle. When choosing a homestead the men agreed to play cards to see who should choose first – and so it went until each man had a homestead. The founding of the towns of Yampa and Toponas soon followed. The area remained isolated until the railroad arrived in 1908 and opened agricultural, ranching and timber markets.
In a short time the settler’s homesteads became prosperous cattle ranches and served as the major economic force for the town of Yampa. Ranching is a continuing way of life – several large cattle ranches remain and hay from the region remains in demand due to its superior quality. A thriving lumber industry also existed due to the stands of pine, spruce and fir in the area. In 1906 the area boasted 12 sawmills, which served this growing district.
In the late 1800s the town of Yampa was an important overnight stop for stagecoach lines that ran between Steamboat and Wolcott to the south and over Gore Pass to the east. By the early 1900s, tourists arrived on new trail lines to camp, fish, and hunt in the Gore Range and Flat Tops Mountains. One of the most famous visitors to this area was President Teddy Roosevelt who came to Egeria Park with a hunting party in search of the region’s plentiful big game and wildlife. Roosevelt’s visit served to bring additional stimulus to an already thriving hunting and fishing industry. The region’s big game and other wildlife attracted people from all over the world. The local hotels, guides and liveries did a thriving business. Double-wide Moffat Avenue drew crowds to watch horse races, bronc riding and brass bands. Today cowboy polo is still played on the historic downtown street. By 1908 special trains were chartered to accommodate the sportsmen and women who used Yampa as their base camp to the Flat Tops. Trappers Lake was the most popular destination. To this day Yampa hosts sportsmen and women from all corners of the world.
Ranching and agriculture are still mainstays of the area. Cattle and sheep are driven through town en route from summer grazing rangeland to winter pasture.
PLACES TO SEE
Yampa Egeria Historical Museum: 100 Main Street/Crossan’s Market 101 Main street across from Museum
Yampa’s past lives in these two buildings; the museum was built in 1904 as a bank – the vault remains (minus any currency) and looks much today as when it opened. Crossan’s was where locals went to pick up groceries and gossip.
Montgomery’s General Merchandise: 24 Main Street
Established in 1890 as a mercantile, Montgomery’s is among the oldest, continually operating general stores in Colorado. It is said of this store “if they don’t have it, you don’t need it.”
Antler’s Café: 40 Moffat Avenue.
Built between 1904 and 1906, Antler’s Café first opened as a saloon and then became a pool hall during Prohibition. Later Antlers returned to a saloon with back room gambling. When gambling was outlawed in Colorado it became a café and bar and remains so today. Antler’s Café has been a local hangout for almost 100 years and is on the register of historic places.
The Royal Hotel: 201 Moffat Ave
Legend has it that Theodore Roosevelt came into Egeria Park on a hunting trip in 1900 and wanted a hunting lodge in Yampa. The Royal Hotel was completed in 1904 – how it was funded remains a mystery. It is said that guests of the hotel included writer Zane Gray, outlaw Butch Cassidy and the resident ghost, Rufus.
Penny’s Diner and the Oak Tree Inn are open 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Boor-Redmond Ranch – 22190 CR 13
An intact agricultural complex, the ranch has been in continuous use since circa 1890. The approximately 387 acre ranch is a testament to the important role that ranching played throughout generations of Routt county history.
Directions: Drive nine miles north of Yampa and turn left on RCR 15.
Rock Creek Stage Station/Gore Pass Station: Routt National Forest Rd. #206 –
The Rock Creek Station was built in early 1880s and served the first mail route into the Yampa Valley. The difficulty of travel in this isolated region made the station important to the settlement of the area. Today the station, slightly ‘off the beaten path’ can easily be reached. Look for directional signs on Routt National Forest Rd. #206.
Directions: From Yampa, head south on 131. Turn left on 134 and follow to Routt National Forest Rd. #206. Fill up with gas and food in Yampa.
In the Gore Range south of Yampa, is Gore Pass, a route which follows a trail traveled by Ute and Arapaho tribes on their seasonal journeys between Middle Park on the east side and Egeria Park on the west. Today Gore Pass is Hwy 134 and the area is known for wildlife viewing, big game hunting, fishing and winter recreation.
Directions: From Yampa drive south on 131. Turn left on 134. This road will eventually take you towards Kremmling or you can loop over to Steamboat Springs and back down to Yampa.
Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway
Yampa is the east portal to the Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, a working byway where you may encounter a herd of cattle or horses, or a flock of sheep as they are moved pasture to pasture by ranchers and sheepherders. To find out more about our featured Flat Tops Journey, click here.