Welcome to ColoradoTrue, a blog featuring all things Colorado, but mostly western Colorado (and occasionally eastern Utah).

First off let me apologize for not updating my blog for September. I had lots going on, not the least of which I'm moving. I'm leaving my beloved Colorado and moving to my beloved New Mexico. I've bounced back and forth between Colorado and New Mexico several times over the last 20+ years. This may be my last bounce. I haven't decided yet whether to continue ColoradoTrue.com or shut it down. More on that next month. Until then be happy, stay safe.

Posted October 3, 2022.

COLORADO PLACES

Last month in the High Country. This month we skip across the mountain from Ouray to Telluride, which is our Colorado Place of the Month.

You say you missed some of the past Colorado Places? No problem! All of the Colorado Places that I haved presented here are archived at Highways-Byways.com.

"....get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space..."

Edward Abbey

Upcoming Events

COLORADO PHOTOS

I drove Forest Road 825 (San Juan County Road 14) last month. It's a really cool 4x4 drive that tops out at over 12,000 feet. Along the way you pass several old mines with lots to explore. I've included photos I took of some of these old mines.


Brooklyn Mine


Carbon Lake Mine


Old mine adit


Longfellow Mine


Koehler Tunnel


Koehler Tunnel Drainage

COLORADO ADVENTURES

Hikes, camping trips, road trips, off-roading, and other adventures. This month we will be driving one of Colorado's lesser known scenic byways that features lots of magnificent scenery and interesting stops along the way.

Flat Tops Scenic Byway

For this adventure we will be driving the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. The byway is 82 miles long, running from Meeker (west end) to Yampa (east end). Most of Flat Tops Scenic Byway travels along Rio Blanco County Road 8 (CR-8), except when it crosses into Routt County and becomes Routt County Roads 132, 19, and 17. About half of the 82 miles are paved, the first 30 miles from Meeker and the last 10 miles to Yampa. The rest is well maintained gravel. We will be traveling from Meeker To Yampa for this road trip.
The included map is taken from a government brochure entitled "Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway". The brochure is available at the Meeker Visitor Center, White River Museum, and park and forest service offices. It also contains a brief description of each of the numbered stops. The photos are of stops I made along the byway in July 2022. The #s in parentheses correspond to circled numbers on the map.

Meeker


Flat Tops Scenic Byway


Flat Tops Scenic Byway


We will visit two of the Rio Blanco County historic school houses before continuing along the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. Turn onto CR-6 and look for the historic Coal Creek School House (distance of about 5.4 miles). After visiting Coal Creek continue east on CR-6 for another 4.2 miles to Little Beaver School. Return to CR-8 to continue traveling Flat Tops Scenic Byway.


Coal Creek School House


Coal Creek School House


Little Beaver School


Little Beaver School

Agency Park Overlook and Oak Ridge State Wildlife Area

The Agency Park Overlook (#2) is 5.2 miles from Meeker on CR-8. There is a kiosk with several panels on the history of the White River Indian Agency and relations between white settlers and the Ute Indians. For more information on this topic visit the White River Museum in Meeker.
Flat Tops Scenic Byway passes through the Oak Ridge State Wildlife Area (#4) starting some 17 miles from Meeker. It's 16.9 miles to the Sleepy Cat Unit and 20.2 miles to Lake Avery in the Lake Avery Unit of the State Wildlife Area. The area has picnic tables, campsites, restrooms, potable water, corrals, and lots of trails. There are ample opportunities for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, boating, or just plain relaxing.

White River Museum


Panorama from Agency Park Overlook


"Meeker's Perspective"


"The Ute Perspective"


"The Utes Must Go"

Sleepy Cat Unit
Oak Ridge State Wildlife Area


Fishing Info

Buford School and Lost Creek Guard Station

We will visit one more historic school before continuing on the scenic byway. Buford School is located on sort of a D-loop off CR-8. Easiest way to get there is to turn onto CR-17 (New Castle-Buford Road, FSR-245) 22 miles from Meeker, then 0.8 miles to Buford School on the left. Return to CR-8 after visiting the school.
Lost Creek Guard Station (#6) is 32 miles from Meeker along the byway. The guard station was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and is still in use by Forest Service crews. There were several Forest Service vehicles parked there when last I drove the byway.


Buford School 1889


The original Buford School was built in 1889. When flooding damaged the original building in the early 1900s the school was rebuilt at the present location using materials recycled from the old school. The new building operated as a school until 1952. It is currently used as a community center.


Buford School


Lost Creek Guard Station


Lost Creek Guard Station


Rio Blanco CR-8 a little east of
Lost Creek Guard Station

Forest Service Road 205 to Trappers Lake

A visit to Trappers Lake (#8) is mandatory when driving the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. Turn south onto Forest Service Road 205 (Trappers Lake Road) and continue about 10 miles to the Outlet parking area. From there it's a short quarter mile hike to the lake. Flat Tops Wilderness provides the magnificent scenery surrounding Trappers Lake. Trappers Lake is the headwater for the north fork of the White River.


Himes Peak Campground


Himes Peak Campground is located about six miles from the FR-205 turnoff and is named for the very prominent Himes Peak. It's a primitive campground with 11 campsites and vault toilet. The hillsides to the right above the north fork of the White River are littered with tree trunks from an old wildfire blowdown (possibly the 1898 forest fire?).


Himes Peak


Himes Peak


Wildfire Blowdown


Lake of the Woods


Stephanie on Trail to Trappers Lake


Charlie on Trail to Trappers Lake


Trappers Lake and Amphitheater Peak (center)


Trappers Lake Outlet

Trappers Lake Lodge

Trappers Lake Lodge is located right next to the Outlet parking area, so I took a quick look around. Thought it was pretty neat so I included some photos even though it's not officially part of the byway tour. There are lots of nice lodges along the Flat Tops Scenic Byway and I'm making no endorsements here, but if anyone wants more information on Trappers Lake Lodge I've included a link to their website.

Trappers Lake Lodge


Trappers Lake Lodge


The Lodge


General Store


Store Interior


Half Way - Junction CR-8 and FSR-205

Ripple Creek Overlook

Ripple Creek Overlook (#9) is located 44.7 miles from Meeker on CR-8. This is a great place to stop for lunch. There are picnic tables tucked under the shade of tall pines and a vault toilet if you really have to go. And, the views are outstanding.


Ripple Creek Overlook


Panorama from Ripple Creek Overlook


What's in the Panorma


Wildflowers


Wildflowers (lavender - Featherleaf Fleabane, red - Indian Paintbrush , yellow - don't know)

Ripple Creek Pass to Yampa

It's about 53 miles from Meeker to Ripple Creek Pass (#10), the first of two passes Flat Tops Scenic Byway will cross on its way to Yampa. Ripple Creek Pass at 10,360 feet is the higher of the two, the other being Dunckley Pass at 9,764 ft. Ripple Creek Pass is located on the border between Rio Blanco and Routt Counties, and also marks the boundry between White River and Routt National Forests. At this point the byway becomes Routt County Road 132.
Pyramid Guard Station (#12) is the second guard station encountered on the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934.
The byway becomes curvy with switchbacks on both sides of Dunckley Pass. Dunckley Pass is 62.4 miles from Meeker and 19.6 miles from Yampa. Be sure to stop at the Dunckley Pass Overlook (#13) to take in the breathtaking views. Pyramid Peak (11,532 ft) is the highlight of the view.


West side of Ripple Creek Pass


East side of Ripple Creek Pass


Pair of marmots


Pyramid Guard Station


Pyramid Guard Station


Dunckley Pass elev 9764 ft


Panorama from Dunckley Pass Overlook


View from Dunckley Pass Overlook
Pyramid Peak center right

Yampa

Finally we arrive in Yampa (#17), which bills itself as the Gateway to the Flat Tops. Yampa began as a hunting camp in the 1880s. Later, agriculture and a robust lumber industry kept Yampa going. The arrival of the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific Railroad in 1908 also helped a lot. Today, Yampa is a quiet town with a population of around 500. Yampa holds kind of a unique event each Fourth of July - cowboy horse polo where riders and horses chase a polo ball up and down Moffat Avenue.


Welcome to Yampa


Montgomery's - the Walmart of Yampa


Antlers Cafe & Bar


Very Nice Victorian House


Vintage Jail


Town Hall


First Baptist Church


View south along Main Street


Yampa Library


Buildings along Moffat Avenue

This concludes our drive of the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. The only thing left to do is return to our starting point in Meeker. There are two options. Either drive the scenic byway in reverse (3-4 hours), or take CO-131 to Steamboat Springs, US-40 west to Craig, then CO-13 south to Meeker (2 hours).


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