If you fill your tag early, or the weather isn’t cooperating for your hunt, there’s no shortage of activities you can do in Northwest Colorado. Following is a sampler of how to stay busy when you’re not out in the bush.
HOT SPRINGSHOT SPRINGS
It’s almost as if the region’s multiple hot springs were custom-made for hunters, each ready to soothe tired legs and aching backs. If you’re in Steamboat Springs, Old Town Hot Springs, near the corner of Third Street and Lincoln Avenue, provides the most convenient soaking option and a little excitement with its recently remodeled pools and pair of 230-foot slides (www.oldtownhotsprings.orgwww.oldtownhotsprings.org). ).
If you have time, make the 7-mile trip to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs north of town on Routt County Road 36. Strawberry Park features a series of natural stone pools tucked into the hillside along Hot Springs Creek (www.strawberryhotsprings.comwww.strawberryhotsprings.com). You can also take a walking tour of seven hot springs scattered throughout downtown. ). You can also take a walking tour of seven hot springs scattered throughout downtown.
www.strawberryhotsprings.com). You can also take a walking tour of seven hot springs scattered throughout downtown.
Farther south, the Meeker Recreation Center features a family aquatics area with a four-lane lap pool, diving well, therapeutic whirlpool, water slide, hot tub and lazy river, with extended fall hours to stay open after dark.
There’s also the sprawling complex of 22 pools and private baths at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa right along the Colorado River (www.hotsulphursprings.comwww.hotsulphursprings.com).).
Firearm connoisseurs will want to take a look at the Museum of Northwest Colorado (www.museumnwco.org). Housed in the historic former Colorado State Armory building, the museum in the heart of downtown Craig showcases the Cowboy and Gunfighter Museum as well as a new Craig centennial exhibit and a collection of nearly 1,000 working cowboy artifacts and railroad memorabilia.
Meeker visitors can revel in the past with a trip to the historic downtown Meeker Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt once stayed, as well as a trip to the White River Museum.
“It’s free, there’s a lot of homestead goodies and artifacts, the whole story of the Meeker Massacre, and the curators are very knowledgeable and can cover a lot of genealogy,” says Suzan Pelloni, executive director of Meeker Chamber of Commerce.
Other notable museums include downtown Steamboat’s Tread of Pioneers Museum (www.treadofpioneers.orgwww.treadofpioneers.org) — complete with exhibits exploring Steamboat’s Olympic heritage, ranching roots and outlaw tales from its Wild West past — as well as the quirky and unique collections at Craig’s Wyman Living History Museum () — complete with exhibits exploring Steamboat’s Olympic heritage, ranching roots and outlaw tales from its Wild West past — as well as the quirky and unique collections at Craig’s Wyman Living History Museum (www.wymanmuseum.comwww.wymanmuseum.com). ).
www.treadofpioneers.org) — complete with exhibits exploring Steamboat’s Olympic heritage, ranching roots and outlaw tales from its Wild West past — as well as the quirky and unique collections at Craig’s Wyman Living History Museum (www.wymanmuseum.com).
If you have the time, you also can drive west to Maybell and then turn east on Colorado Highway 318 for 70 miles to the John Jarvie Ranch (435-781-4400) in Brown’s Park along the Green River, where outlaws like Butch Cassidy rode. There you’ll find a one-room stone building built by outlaw Jack Bennett; a museum with displays and video history; a two-room dugout where Jarvie and his wife Nellie first lived; a blacksmith shop and corral, constructed from hand-hewn railroad ties which drifted down from Green River, Wyo.; and a replica of the general store built in 1881 and furnished with many artifacts from the Jarvie period, including the original safe which was robbed by the men that murdered John Jarvie.
MOVIES AND BOWLINGMOVIES AND BOWLING
MOVIES AND BOWLING
Simple entertainment is never far. Catch a flick in Steamboat at one of the six auditoriums with stadium seating at the Metropolitan Wildhorse Cinemas. Craig also has a pair of screens at the recently renovated West Theater at 29 E. Victory Way.
If you want to head for the lanes, Thunder Rolls Bowling Center in Craig offers the largest facility in the region. There are another 12 lanes at Steamboat’s Snow Bowl on the west end of town and even six lanes in Walden at Paradise Lanes. Beyond that, the Rifle Fireside Lanes lie just north of Rifle off Colorado Highway 13.
OFF-ROAD RIDINGOFF-ROAD RIDING
Endless open space means plenty of options for dirt bike and OHV users. Sand Wash Basin, about 50 miles west of Craig, offers a Bureau of Land Management-managed area where wild horses still roam. According to the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig, 90 percent of the Sand Wash Basin’s 165,000 acres is open for off-road travel. The Craig office (970-826-5000) has visitor’s maps available marking some of the BLM’s inventoried routes in the basin.
Jackson County also has plenty of open trails ranging from the vast timber rides in the State Forest State Park, to the 60-plus miles of dirt bike-only singletrack on the Snyder and Willow Creek Trails near Rand and the state’s only OHV sand and open dune riding at the North Sand Hills Special Recreation Management Area. Other public options include the Wolford Mountain area north of Kremmling or the singletrack trails just south of Routt County, between McCoy and Burns as well as the technical trails at the Bocco Mountain SRMA near Wolcott.
If you’re heading to or from the 235,406-acre Flat Tops Wilderness Area for your hunt, consider the trip on the 82-mile Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway from Yampa to Meeker. “It’s great just to go check out Trappers Lake, but in the fall it’s especially worth it to see the leaves changing,” says Pelloni.
Another scenic drive is the 101-mile Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway from Walden to Fort Collins. Stop by the State Forest State Park along the way to find out why Walden has earned the title of “moose-viewing capital of Colorado.”
Closer to town, consider the short but spectacular hike to Fish Creek Falls just east of Steamboat or the 3-mile loop trail up Cedar Mountain, just northwest of Craig, providing great views of the Flat Tops and Elkhead Mountains. If you’re in between the two towns, consider the Carpenter Ranch, where the 1.5-mile interpretive trail loop in the Yampa River Preserve (free and open dawn to dusk) gives you a chance to spot some of the Nature Conservancy preserve’s 150 bird species.