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Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway


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Flat Tops Wilderness- The Flat Tops Wilderness is located in northwest Colorado. It lies in the White River and the Routt National Forests. It is divided into three administrative sections: the Blanco District, the Eagle District and the Yampa District.

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General Information

View from east end of the Flat Tops Scenic and Historic Byway
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
View from east end of the Flat Tops Scenic and Historic Byway
Description - This 82-mile byway leads from Yampa to Meeker. The byway cuts through the heart of the original White River Plateau Timberland Reserve, set aside in the late 19th century, it became an initial part of National Forest system. Two decades later, in a foreshadowing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, development of any kind was banned around Trapper's Lake (the "Cradle of Wilderness").

Allow 2 1/2 hours to drive the 82 mile byway, with 40 miles of gravel road. The road is open from June through October, depending on snow. In winter, snowmobilers, skiers, and snowshoers are welcome. Gas and services are available in Yampa, Buford, and Meeker.

Attractions - This byway cuts through the heart of the original White River Plateau Timberland Reserve, set aside in the late 19th century, it became an initial part of National Forest system. Two decades later, in a foreshadowing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, development of any kind was banned around Trapper's Lake (the "Cradle of Wilderness"). The area's long-standing history of preservation and multiple-use land management makes for pristine scenery and superlative wildlife viewing. Yet this remains very much a "working" byway, dotted with active mines, ranches and timber-producing woodlands. Meeker and Yampa, the route's two endpoints, embody the rugged individualism that lies at the heart of Colorado. From this byway, the visitor can explore the geological wonders, forests and meadows of the Flat Tops, headwaters of the White and Yampa Rivers.

For more information please call the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) at 800-999-4997.

This information is provided courtesy of CDOT.

Recreation - The Flat Tops Byway leads through the Routt and White River National Forests and north of the Flat Tops Wilderness. There are numerous opportunities for camping, hiking, four-wheel driving, motorcycling, horseback riding, backpacking and fishing along the 82-mile byway. Over 300 miles of trail weave through the heart of the Flat Tops. Horses, pack animals, and hikers are welcome in wilderness areas. Mountain bikers and ATVs may travel on designated non-wilderness trails.

Climate - Climate conditions in Colorado should be taken seriously throughout the state. Snow and ice are common on roads and trails from mid-October through late April. In the summer months snow is still possible but less common. Varying conditions throughout a given day can be expected throughout the year. Remember that summer days can typically have beautiful sunny mornings and short sudden thunderstorms in the afternoon. Please prepare appropriately for your outdoor experience.

Location - This scenic byway is located in the mountainous northwestern region of Colorado between the towns of Yampa and Meeker. Beginning in Yampa the byway leads northwest on County Road 17. Within five miles 17 ends at Primary Forest Road 16. The byway follows this route westward into the Routt National Forest, across Trout Creek and over Dunckley Pass. As the byway leaves then reenters the National Forest the road number changes to Forest Road 8, which leads south toward Buford. This stretch of the scenic road passes campgrounds, Ripple Creek Pass and eventually parallels the North Fork of the White River. Forest Road 8 continues to follow the White River as it passes through Buford and on to Meeker.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Leslie Connelly (Thornton, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Beautiful area, road between Buford and Yampa is rougher than between Meeker and Buford. There is a gas station/motel/restroom in Buford. We stopped there and sat on the porch of the General Store, over 20 hummingbirds. We even saw a bat. We traveled on a weekday, only saw a few cars. There are lots of places to pull off and look at the beautiful view.


More Information

Contact Information:
USFS - Yampa Ranger District, P.O. Box 7, 300 Roselawn , Yampa, CO, 80483, Phone: 970-638-4516

Additional Information:
Blanco Ranger District - The Blanco Ranger District encompasses the northwest portion of the White River National Forest. It includes much of the Flat Tops Mountains and the upper White River drainage.
Colorado Scenic Byways - Driving through Colorado can be some of the most rewarding driving possible. The scenic byways deserve their name and are definitely worth the detour.
Meeker Area - Meeker draws most visitors during hunting season, but visitors to this town during warm summer days will be thrilled with its small town charm and endless recreation opportunities.
Yampa Area - The Yampa area surrounds the town of Yampa and includes the upper Yampa River drainage. Yampa is located on Colorado Highway 131, south of Steamboat Springs.
Yampa Ranger District - The Yampa Ranger District surrounds the town of Yampa in northwestern Colorado. It includes much of the upper Yampa River, and the upper Williams Fork River drainages.

Links:
Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.

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